I wrote previously about the majority of our time in Brisbane – not some of my happiest memories from our time here in Australia. But, our last day in Brisbane really was wonderful. Daniel’s conference was over so we got to spend the day together as a family, and opted for the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We weren’t sure how overpriced and touristy it was going to be, but it ended up being one of the big highlights from our entire time in Australia!
Bats! So creepy to watch them squirm around beneath their thin, latex-like wings.
This cockatoo was awesome - he was trained to say "Bye bye" and "Hello." Naomi loved it! She still remembers it and talks about it when we see other cockatoos.
Galahs, or rose crested cockatoos - from the front these beautiful birds are mostly that gorgeous pink color you see on their heads. I guess they're really common in Sydney but I haven't seen them much.
Rainbow lorikeets - Daniel had one as a pet growing up. They had a feeding time for the lorikeets, where you could hold a stick with a cup of feed in it and hope they landed on you to eat. It didn't really work out that way, but there were tons of squawking lorikeets everywhere anyway, which was cool enough.
One of two big highlights of the day was getting to hold a koala. Naomi was soooo looking forward to this – she even wore her koala shirt that day! He was a sweet, sleepy adult male (as most male koalas are – they sleep 20 hours a day!) He smelled very strongly of eucalyptus oil mixed with kind of a dusty dung smell. A bit odd.
Naomi was very hesitant at first.
Naomi was super excited about the idea of petting koalas, but when she was actually face to face with one, she was pretty overwhelmed. This shot also shows that koalas have two (!) thumbs. I guess if you sleep in trees with no hammock, you want a firm grip.
BUT, after she had a stuffed toy koala to hold for herself, she got much more brave, and LOVED snuggling the toy "dahdah" (koala).
She even got brave enough to pet the real koala!
This experience was such a highlight for Naomi that she has talked about it approximately once a day in the 2 weeks since. “Dahdah! Pet dem! Dahdah! Mommy hold dem!” (Koalas – we pet them and Mommy held them!) I’m glad it was so positive for her even though at first she didn’t seem real thrilled about it.
Then, the second highlight of the day, was getting to just hang out with kangaroos. Our jaws kind of dropped when we realized that the “kangaroo enclosure” was this enormous grassy area where we could all go in and just mingle with the kangaroos. The only rule was not to pet the joeys, but at first I was sure they meant we shouldn’t touch any of the kangaroos at all. I mean, they’re kangaroos. But when Naomi ran right up to one, and no one said anything, we just went for it. Later, when a group of school kids came in and acted like it was the most normal thing in the world to pet and feed kangaroos, I realized it really was fine. Such an amazing experience. There were gray kangaroos, wallabies and red kangaroos all in the same area.
I think red kangaroos have such exquisitely sensitive and wise and beautiful faces.
Petting a wallaby. Wallabies and kangaroos are quite similar, but wallabies have much shorter arms (and eat with their hands), are smaller all around, and have different tails. Kangaroos bend down to eat off the ground rather than picking things up with their hands, and use their seemingly more muscular tails as a third leg in the sense of balance when they jump.
The kangaroos were just lying around everywhere, and were so comfortable with us just coming up to them and petting them.
I couldn't believe how similar kangaroos' and koalas' paws were! Koalas distinctly have 2 thumbs and 3 fingers, whereas it seems that kangaroos just have 5 claws on their paw, but other than that the padding, the claws, the fur quality, texture and unique coloration (underlayers and overlayers of fur) are really quite similar.
Several of the females had joeys in their pouches. Some were small enough that the red tails were wet-looking and very small; others seemed almost ready to come out on their own like this one (and probably often do come out on their own, just napping in the pouch). We learned that female kangaroos can simultaneously produce two different kinds of milk, one kind to feed the newborns in their pouches, and another to feed older joeys that hop around. Their gestation period is only 33 days, but they can also pause a pregnancy if they are already nursing 2 young, to forestall the 3rd young'un until the oldest is ready to stop nursing. Pretty handy skill if you ask me!
Petting a kangaroo.
Other animals we saw in various parts of the sanctuary (in cages, not in the kangaroo enclosure, as several of these animals can be somewhat dangerous):
These large lizards (probably almost a foot in length) were found all over the grounds, just like we're used to seeing smaller lizards around in the US. A little surprising!
A tawny frogmouth. It's not an owl, but looks like one (and is distantly related). I think they're much cuter than owls - kind of like cartoon versions of owls.
Kookaburra! Every time I see these birds up close I am surprised again at how large they are. They are the size of a (very) small dog!
Dingoes! Naomi was very excited to see "doggies" there, and Daniel commented that since these were the only dogs he knew of while growing up in the village, this is always what he think of when dogs come to mind (rather than domesticated dogs, like I think of).
After we got home from the koala sanctuary, and Naomi had her nap, we decided to head back to the playground Naomi and I had visited by ferry earlier in the week. They also have a really neat man-made beach there, and Naomi had really wanted to swim before but we hadn’t had her swim clothes. We had a wonderful time hanging out there and at the playground.
Once again, in her favorite position: lying down in the sand playing. :)
Working on a big sand project with Daddy.
On the see-saw with Daddy.
My other little monkey. :) Like father, like daughter!
Heading back to the hotel on the ferry.