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Friday, March 13th: Day 326 – Ripper of a Good Time

Today we slept late still recovering from our hike. Our room number is 13, and today is Friday the 13th. Good thing we aren’t superstitious.

There aren’t many people in this beautiful seaside town. We are told that this is the low period for tourists…but it is likely to remain this way.

Any person that we did meet would greet us with a “How ya do?” or “How ya goin’?” I am never quite sure how to respond!

We went to the Iron Bar for the famous nightly Cane Toad races in Port Douglas. It was really a comedy routine. We were guaranteed a ripper of a good time.

In 1936, the cane toad was introduced to control the cane beetle. It is known as the biggest environmental disaster in Australia.

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History is a documentary about cane toads. It is to this day a top ten best seller in Australia.

The cane farmer imported around 100, although some reports say 300 cane toads, to rid his crop of cane beetles. Now there are ten billion cane toads in Australia. A female lays around 35,000 eggs at a time.

The cane toad has no natural predators in Australia. They are poisonous at every stage of development.

Aside from being poisonous, they secrete a hallucinogen called bufogen? which gave rise to cane toad licking. Yuck!! But some people get high and die, so it isn’t a good practice.

So here is how tonight went. We were the first to arrive at the bar. There was a cricket match on TV. Australia was trying to continue their sporting events but with no crowds. One player did something noteworthy and jumped into the stands to clap for himself!!

Our toad racing crowd seemed to be gathering…and we even stood next to each other. Upon entering, we were each given a ticket with a number on it. I had 17 and Rob had 18. Our fast talking host told us the rules.

There would be two races. Toad jockeys for the first race would be drawn and if your number is chosen, you are a toad jockey. The second race is by auction and the right to be a toad jockey goes to the highest bidder. The advantage here is you get to see your toad in the first race.

One proviso is that all toad jockeys had to kiss their toads. The MC said that only once did the kiss produce a prince, and you are looking at him!!

My picture was too blurry because I did it fast but here is the tentative other foreign jockey from Colorado. The Aussie toad jockeys were more comfortable with this tradition. At least we didn’t have to lick them!!!!

So the numbers were called with a quick interview of the selected toad jockey and accompanying toad.

Five people were chosen with only one selection left. After a long time, he called #17. That’s me. I’m in. I ran up to my spot. He held out his left hand. I assumed that we were shaking left hands…you know, they drive on the left hand side so I shook it. He wanted my ticket!!! Ha!

My frog’s name was was Pidgeon Toad, and he wore an ergonomically designed white jump suit aka hair scrunchie. Here are the clever or questionable names of the cane toads.

I think we Americans were set up because our frogs would not budge no matter how much we encouraged them with our party blowout. Maybe they were blinded by the spotlight. Duds!!!

To see the whole contest in it’s entirety, watch this video on YouTube. You will need to access the link by looking at the web version. Get ready to bust a gut!!

This is as close as Rob got to the cane toad. You think you wash your hands a lot due to COVID-19, think how diligent you wash your hands after handling a poisonous cane toad…prior to going out to get a hamburger!!

After a thorough handwashing, we went outside and were met with deafening sounds of thousands of birds flying, screeching and gathering in the large fig trees that line the main street in Port Douglas. I looked up and my mouth was agape at the sight. Here is a video. Make sure your sound is on!

A passerby commented that this happens every night and that I had better shut my mouth!!


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