This weekend it happened. I finally had my “oh my gosh, I am really in Australia” moment. It may have taken a week and a half for it to hit, but boy was it worth the wait.
This past weekend I traveled to Healesville Sanctuary (one of three zoos in the state of Victoria). I was thankful to have the opportunity to tag along on my Advisor’s (Jason) family trip out there (lucky for me they’ve adopted me into the family fold!) as this zoo is in no way easily accessible to me with only public transport and a bike at my disposal.
As we wound through the country roads, we got out first (or maybe just my first) real look at the Australian landscape, and I must say, I was surprised. We were in no way near the desert outback, but we were out an hour and a half from the CBD (central business district) of Melbourne. I expect to see dry, flat land with a lot of open fields, but where we were was lush and green (well as green as I’ve seen Australia anyway) and there were hills. There were HUGE hills. Hills big enough to cause some ear popping as we wound our way through them.
As we drew closer to the sanctuary the landscaping only improved as we hit wine country. The vineyards were breathtaking, and we must have passed dozens of them. I made a mental note to find a wine tour that traveled out that way at some point.
Since it was a family outing, we all did our best to find kid friendly shows and activities and keep the little ones entertained as best we could, and luckily much of their interests coincided with mine. My long list of must-sees boiled down to Koalas and Kangaroos. And all expectations of the sightings were surpassed.
The zoo was beautiful. It reminded me of the Asheville Zoo in North Carolina back home in that the animals were, for the most part, in larger pens where they had some room to roam around. Beyond even the animal enclosures though, the walk around the zoo was scenic on its own.
They had sculptures throughout (and some were interactive water sprayers) and the trees concealed any signs or sounds of human life outside of the sanctuary.
When we made it to the kangaroos, I could hardly contain my excitement. They were in an enclosed pen that you could walk through. The animals had safe spots behind ropes if they wanted, and for the most part that’s what they wanted, but there was one little roo who was just curious enough to come say hello and I got some awesome shots of him(her?).
It was a HOT day (95F so about 32C), so going in I assumed that most of the animals would be hiding out in the shade, and while some were, a lot were out and about. It seemed like we kept hitting each pen at the opportune moment (feeding time). Even the Koalas (famous for their 22 hours of sleep per day) were roaming around when the keepers brought fresh food out. I managed to grab a few decent shots of those fuzzy old men as well.
The whole trip was a grand adventure and a great kickoff to life down under. I don’t feel “at home” here yet (and maybe I never will, but 2 weeks isn’t enough time to know, give me a break!), but at least I can finally say two things for certain.
One- I am DEFINITELY in Australia.
Two- I got a selfie with a kangaroo!