Location: Manning Valley
Date: January 2009

January 22, 2009. Just a quickie. Here's me worried about creepy crawlies on the Odyssey when one visits my place in suburban Taree! It must be gonna rain... huntsmen seek cover when it smells like rain. Click here for the photo album

January 10, 2009. I felt a tad guilty about not having done a mini Odyssey during December 08 but there were all kinds of reasons I won't bore you with. This time, I waddled up the road to the local Mall in Taree for a photo shoot of Derek and Karen, a couple of reptile lovers who present shows for kids, including big kids like me. They call their show Croc Stars. Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the end of this article.

I was there for the 11am show but the Sony packed it in. MEMORY STICK ERROR. Huh? Wot dat mean? I came home and checked the internet to discover that the Sony F707 and F717 models are notorious for that fault. Fortunately, a good Samaritan posted a page on the web that illustrates, in text and graphics, how to fix the problem yourself instead of paying a fortune to have a repairer do it. I'll attend to that matter tomorrow morning when I'm not so stressed. Grrrr.

So I grabbed the backup Kodak and returned to the mall for the second show at 1pm. I have to say that if the freak-outs and worry-warts had their way, this page would not exist. More stress! At the end of the show, a security bloke called me aside to say that some people complained of my photographing children... that I could be a dirty old man. Yeah, right... smack bang in the middle of a shopping center with a large audience. Crocs and kids. How many opportunities do you get to take pics like that? Besides, the kids' expressions are an integral part of the show. Crocs without kids just ain't the same.

The pics were shot without flash... using available light, which meant a slower shutter speed. I didn't want to freak the animals with an exploding flash. So some of the images are a little blurred. Sorry 'bout dat, but they do tell a pretty interesting story. And so does Derek, by the way. He's a wealth of knowledge, and knew Steve Irwin very well. We spoke on a couple of occasions (the first caused him to be late for the show). He's a legit zoo-keeper. He and his wife Karen live on the Central Coast of NSW. Their show tours schools, shopping centers, carnivals, exhibitions, agricultural displays and just about any place where people gather. The kids love it. You can check out their web site here.

When I first spoke to Derek (actually I hardly got a word in edgewise, which is unusual for me) he had a frill-neck lizard sitting on his shoulder. It didn't faze me in the least. It was incredibly placid. "He's a sook. I'm his security and he's happiest when he's sitting on my shoulder." Lizards are normally skittish but Derek says he's never given his reptilian mates any reason to fear him. "It's a matter of trust." However, the frilly's larger cousins, crocs, are not so amiable. They have no wish or reason to befriend man, and are permanently distrustful.

It was interesting to watch members of the public, including youngsters, feeling totally at ease talking to Derek even while he was off stage, on the shopping mall floor, holding the croc. I didn't feel threatened either... not at all. When I thanked him before I left, I didn't offer my hand because Derek was using both his to hold the croc. Hehe. So you can imagine my surprise when Derek tucked the back end of the croc under his arm and offered his hand to me. Eeeek! But I was happy to shake it.

By the way, if you ever need to deal with a croc on a close-up and personal level, roll him onto his back and he'll happily succumb to a semi-comatose state. Provided, of course, that he doesn't eat you first. And don't underestimate that young croc... he's capable of taking your hand off in an instant. Click here for the photo album


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