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Caitlin and Andy Blake, twelve-year-old twins, were blindfolded in the backseat of the car. It was a winter's day in Queensland, but because it was Queensland, the sun was still shining and the weather was balmy. The car was traveling along a single lane highway, passing through beautiful Australian bushland. It was really very picturesque but, sadly, not if you were wearing a blindfold.
"How much longer now, Bindi?" asked Andy, who was trying to sneak a peek from the bottom of his blindfold. He was a gangly, dark-haired boy, whose legs and arms sprawled in every direction. His twin sister seemed much more contained. She was shorter, with blond hair and a natural confidence. They were like night and day.
Bindi was sitting in the front passenger's seat. She glanced over at her mum, Terri, who was driving.
Terri raised two of her fingers to indicate they were about two minutes away.
"Not long, Andy. Hey, and no peeking!"
Caitlin was outraged. "What? Can he see where we're going? That's not fair!" She whacked her brother on the arm.
"Owww, I cannot. Keep your hair on!" Andy hit his sister back.
Terri glanced in the rearview mirror. "You two, be nice to each other. We're almost there."
A few moments later the car pulled into the parking lot at Mooloolaba Wharf.
Bindi consulted her watch. "Right on time, Mum. Nice work. Okay, you two, time to take off the blindfolds."
Caitlin and Andy pulled off the blindfolds and paused for a few seconds to adjust to the light. The twins lived in England but were visiting Australia with their parents, who were
speaking at an environmental conference in Brisbane today. They were old family friends of the Irwins, and this was the first time the twins had been to Australia. Bindi had enthusiastically offered to spend the day showing the twins around.
Terri grinned as the kids piled out of the car. "Well, I have to get back to the zoo, so have a terrific time today, kids," she said from the driver's seat.
"Bindi, remember that Derek will drop you back off at the zoo after-"
"Mum!" Bindi interrupted.
"Don't spoil the surprise!"
"I was going to say afterward," replied Terri. She waved good-bye and drove off.
"So where are we exactly?" Caitlin asked, looking around and noticing that they were near the water's edge.
"At Mooloolaba Wharf," answered Bindi. "Just in time to jump aboard a boat to go-"
"Whale watching?" Andy finished her sentence, sounding concerned. He was looking at an impressive catamaran moored at the wharf with the name Steve's Whale One emblazoned on the side.
"Good guess, Andy!" answered Bindi, not noticing his frown. "This is the time of year when humpback whales travel up the east coast to warmer waters where they can reproduce, and that catamaran over there is going to take us on a
Again, Andy interrupted. "On the water?"
Caitlin giggled and gave him a sympathetic smile. "You better tell her, Andy."
Bindi looked confused. "Tell me what?"
Andy gave his twin a pointed
look. "There's nothing to tell, Bindi."
Caitlin didn't agree. "Well, Andy isn't what you call 'robust' when he gets anywhere near a boat..."
Bindi didn't understand.
Caitlin was enjoying herself. "He's more bookish. You know, very good at languages, not so good with travel sickness."
Bindi felt terrible. "Oh, Andy, do you get seasick? I'm so sorry. I didn't realize. I thought a day out on the water-"
"Look, it's fine. I haven't been on a boat for years. I've probably grown out of getting seasick anyway," suggested Andy optimistically.
"Are you sure?" Bindi asked. "We can do something else. Maybe go for a bushwalk instead?"
Andy glanced at his sister, who was trying to hide her smile, and replied firmly, "Bindi, I would love to go whale watching. We'll have a wonderful time, as long as the weather doesn't become...really stormy. Like a cyclone, for instance," he finished, looking smug.
Caitlin's eyes widened. "The weather forecast is fine for today, isn't it, Bindi? On the news back home we've heard about some of the"-she gulped-"cyclones that have pounded the Australian coastline."
"Not to mention the shark attacks, all the poisonous spiders and snakes..." added Andy.
"And the British tourists that g-get lost in the outback," finished Caitlin, now looking totally spooked.
Bindi glanced from one twin to the other. At first she thought they were joking-but both of them looked genuinely frightened! "Come on, you two, Australia's the best country in the world. It's not scary at all! Follow me." She headed off in the direction of the wharf.
The twins looked at each other a little nervously.
Andy said, "Remember, Bindi feeds crocodiles and cuddles up to pythons in her spare time. She has a completely different idea of 'scary' to us."
"Thanks, Andy. That makes me feel a whole lot better!" Caitlin grimaced as she hurried to catch up to their fearless Australian friend.