On a misty morn, we strolled through prehistoric forests at Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park with tree ferns, moss-covered logs, and gigantic eucalyptus—the world’s second-tallest trees. While Savannah ogled the oblivious wallabies, Sam shouted “platypus!” when he spotted one in the creek.
Next, we jetted back to Queensland’s Fraser Island, a World Her-itage Site and the world’s largest sand island. A Kingfisher Bay Resort ranger led our 4WD ecotour of the island’s pristine freshwater lakes and rainforest. Sam held back, but Savannah jumped into the icy water with abandon. Kingfisher Bay’s owners built the minimal-impact ecoresort in 1992, with award-winning architecture, alternative energy, xeriscaping, and the Seabelle restaurant specializing in “bush tucker” (dishes made with native herbs, flowers, fruits, animals and insects).
We spent a perfect last day at Tangalooma (“gathering of the fish”) Resort on Moreton Island, tobogganing down enormous sand dunes followed by an ecocruise on water so clear we saw every turtle, fish, and stingray. Dolphins danced in the boat’s wake, and we lucked upon 200 dugong—close cousins of American manatees. We killed the motor and floated through with absolute awe.
On the flight home, I wondered whether our Australian adventure had raised Savannah’s appreciation of nature. She had acted the trooper on a windy day kayaking trip. “My arms got so tired, but I kept on trying my hardest,” she wrote in her journal. Back home, a tragedy solidified her newfound passion—Steve Irwin’s death two weeks after we’d explored his beloved Australia Zoo and wildlife hospital. We watched Croc Hunter shows in his memory, while I continued to hope I would raise my kids to become the wildlife warriors he urged us all to be.