Overlooking the Coral Sea resides a colony of highly dedicated koalas scanning the seas for foreign invaders. Ever watchful. Ever vigilant. Well, maybe not. They sleep around 22 hours a day ... but, in those two waking hours, they have an important job.
Snuggled in the trees on the Forts Walk on Magnetic Island, they have usurped the role of guardians of Australia's northern waters from those who spent their time here during World War 11.
Today, tourists, our birthday celebration crew, families and European backpackers included, walk, climb, trudge, puff, sweat their way to the Forts to take in the view the soldiers surveyed and to hopefully meet at least one elusive koala.
The forts cling to the granite, seemingly precariously.
Along the track, dozing koalas find what appear to be very uncomfortable spots to rest. One paw grips the eucalyptus branch and the remainder of the body slumbers peacefully.
Sometimes there's any annoying itch.
The claws are sharp and can be dangerous, but, most of the time, sleep is top priority.
We are privileged to meet a new recruit held tightly in mum's arms.
She sits here, on this rough branch, for hours and hours cuddling her offspring.
One is almost awake for our cameras.
But not for long.
And then he is back to sleep.
As we wander back to our car, we ponder how the roster is determined.
"Ken, it's your turn to be beside the track today and smile for the cameras."
"Oh, no. I did it last week. Isn't it Duncan's turn?"
"Nope. No. Go on, select a tree near the track and BE NICE."
"But I can't understand German."
"Doesn't matter, just smile nicely and pretend to enjoy your job."
Have you walked the Forts Walk?
Communed with the koalas?
Beautiful, aren't they?
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