Australia Zoo is so important that there is a stop on the Greyhound bus for it, with promises of a space to store your luggage along the way to wherever your next stop is. We booked to arrive before 9am on a Sunday, paid our entrance fee and went off in search for this illusive storage facility. When we got to the lockers, one look told me that my beast of a bag was not going to fit. There was a girl sitting there with her backpack, slathering herself with sunscreen (great shout… the sun in Australia is stronger than anywhere else on the planet due to the location of a certain hole in the ozone layer…) who told us that if our bags didn’t fit, there was a storage room behind the shop. Trouble is, the shop was miles away. It wasn’t really, it just felt like it. I dragged my suitcase all the way over and the lady behind the counter said with such conviction that the bags would fit. We had to go to the shop for change anyway, since the locker storage computer system only took coins and then we trudged all the way back again, hoping she was right.
There were a couple of girls who had managed to fit their backpacks into a locker, so Helen was happier, but I was still very sceptical. These two girls asked if we needed any help, we said no thanks and they got on their way. These girls become important later on, I promise. We finally managed to get the bags shoved into a locker each, we were both very sweaty and out of breath from the effort of hitching my suitcase up to the second level of lockers (the computer system automatically assigns you a locker!) but we were ready to see what Australia zoo had to offer.
Right outside the locker facility there was a little “enclosure” with a sign that said “Can you spot us? We’re tawny frogmouths”. Obviously not knowing what we were looking for, it took us a while, but there were these two owls, completely camouflaged against the trees. They hardly moved at all, but were so beautiful with their massive eyes. A short walk away was a giant iguana tank, with this lizard that was so long; apparently it’s tail often gets mistaken for a snake. He’s a mean looking dude, but he was secured away with plenty of space, I might add. Around the corner we were just in time for a quick talk about giant tortoises, who are magestic creatures. Quite happy to plod along at their own pace.
That was one thing that I really enjoyed about Australia Zoo. The animals are given more free reign than the humans. Native lizards just hang out amongst the walkways and birds swoop in and out of the canopies above. “Africa” was visible across a massive body of water and greenery, where there were giraffes and zebras, rhinos and meerkat. Possibly lemurs (I get confused, and animals aren’t actually a favourite of mine).
In “South East Asia”, there were baby Sumatran tigers who were adorable! The park rangers are so into the animals, and these tigers were only a few months old, but the bond that they had was really nice to see. There was a show we went to with the tigers, but it wasn’t choreographed or forced. They stated at the beginning of the demo that they were just trying to tease out the playful nature of the tigers, especially in the water. There were a brother and a sister and another tiger who was a little bit older. They were talking about how they let them bite a little, but were trying to teach the tigers when was too much biting. Seemed a little dangerous to me, letting a tiger bite your arm, but they know much more about bringing up baby animals than I do, so there you go.
There was a nice little area that had cassowaries right next to the koala sanctuary area. I’d never heard of a cassowary before, but it’s basically a giant bird. Looked a bit like an emu, but it was black. But its head was a brilliant turquoise colour. We happened to walk past when he was feeling a little peckish. Oh my goodness, there was a massive bucket of chopped up fruit. When I say chopped up, the un-peeled banana was cut into maybe four pieces. Giant tomatoes were just in half, as were apples and other bits and pieces. I’m pretty sure there was some melon in the mix too. So anyway, this cassowary is a bird, right? And birds don’t really have teeth. They just swallowed these hunks of fruit down in one go, and you could literally see them sliding down its throat. Made your skin feel a bit weird!
Another name for this place is “The Steve Irwin Zoo”, and there are life-size cut-outs, posters and photos of the man himself, his family and his life’s work everywhere. Half of the places you could go to were named after his daughter, Bindi, and there are galleries of his son, Robert’s photography that you can buy. After the main show at the Crocoseum (yes, they went there with the pun-ny name!!), there was a whole montage of Bindi when she was on Dancing with the Stars in the States, with her talking about how she danced for her dad and what-have-you. I mean, it was nice that the place very much still has that family-feeling, and of course it’s a zoo, so there are going to be lots of children around, but at certain points, I did feel like they were kind of milking it just a little bit.
Of course there are koalas and kangaroos at Australia Zoo! So obviously, everyone knows that koalas basically spend all their time asleep or snoozing, but I was really surprised to know that they do this for 18-22 hours a day! What a life. I managed to snap this when the koala was actually awake, but still sleepy-looking!
The kangaroos were in their own park, and you basically walked through their enclosure. They had a couple of pools to cool off in when it got a bit hot, plus a river and a bridge. What I really liked was that you could just hop up to a kangaroo and if could choose to leave if it didn’t wanna hangout with you. No cages, glass windows to stare through. It was cool.