Before the trip to Australia had even been thought of, it was a well known fact in my middle school that I very desperately wanted to go to Australia. When asked why, the answer was the same, every time: I want to hug a koala. (Of course, the answer is actually a pretty complex one that involves me explaining stuff to a bunch of middle schoolers that don’t speak English as a first language. So we just went with the simple answer.)
So over the weekend, after I had done the most important stuff, aka go to the opera house and be cultured, I gave all that mature culture up, marched up to the information desk of my hostel and asked very simply, “Where can I go where I can meet koalas.” At first, we talked about the zoo, and all the cool animals there, and then one of the other guys at the desk asked me if any of the other animals were important to me.
Answer: No. If I want to go to a zoo, I’ll go in Seoul. I want koalas. And kangaroos if you have them.
After realizing that, the staff suggested I try Wildlife Sydney, which was a zoo that was just for Australian animals. And I could get the tickets bundled with two other places, including the Aquarium (I LOVE AQUARIUMS.) THIS WAS PERFECT.
I attempted to be up bright and early today. I really did. And I was AWAKE at 9. But I was not out of bed until about 10. It’s my holiday, everyone can deal. I was down at the harbour by 11:30 though, and on the ferry over to Darling Harbour by noon. I do love that the most convenient way for me to get around is via ferry. I love boats.
So, I get into Darling Harbour, make my way over to the zoo, walk in, and the first thing I’m face to face with is a room filled with massive butterflies flying around. I thought they were beautiful, but I couldn’t help but laugh and think about my co-teachers in Korea, who all seem to be terrified of moths, and probably would have had a near same reaction in the butterfly room. I was really hoping I could get a butterfly to land on me, but that sadly didn’t happen. So I made my way into the next room and came face to face with…
My heart stopped and I couldn’t breathe for a moment, because this adorable ball of fur was curled up in its tree, chilling like a villain, watching all of us as if we were crazy and he couldn’t be bothered with us. But really, who cares what he thinks of us, because there was a KOALA RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
I ended up standing there, taking tonnes of photos of this one koala until he went back to sleep, then tried to walk away. Another koala woke up by the window though so I was there for another few minutes, taking photos of that one. Eventually, I had to move on and away from the koalas, otherwise I would miss the rest of the exhibit.
The entire zoo was really cool, because all the animals were ones that were native to Australia. There were wallabies and wombats next, who didn’t feel like getting their photo taken too much, so I was thankful for my zoom. Wombats are very strange looking creatures, and reminded me of walking, furry rocks.
The next section was the rain forest section, with the cassowary and the pademelon. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of either of these animals before, but the cassowary freaked me out. It looked like an ostrich that had come straight out of Jurassic Park. I jumped when it popped out from behind a tree and stared at me through the glass. I almost thought it was going to hiss, rattle and spit venom at me like the Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. But luckily, we were all safe, and I could move on to the next room (after getting a few photos of course.)
I probably spent the most time in the Outback section, simply because there was a lot going on in there. When you first walk in, there are supposed to be kangaroos hopping about. However, it was a nice sunny day in the middle of the afternoon, so the kangaroo did what anyone with no work or responsibilities would do, and was napping in the sun. No big problem really, because sleeping kangaroos are quite cute. However, it would have been nice to get a photo of a kangaroo actually moving. There were lots of other animals on display as well, including lots of parrots and lizards, so I was able to get some fun photos of birds as well.(Side note: my friends will be happy to know that the zoo has a Western Galah named Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.)
Kakadu Gorge was next, which was really interesting, if small. Kakadu Gorge is the home of Rex, one of the largest salt water crocodiles in the world. He was absolutely massive. I haven’t seen many crocodiles to compare him to, however the Australians around me who were familiar to crocodiles were marvelling at his size. I was simply glad that he was in his den, and it was winter so he was pretty much sleeping until September. I caught the area just in time to listen to a keeper talk about Rex and his history. Apparently, he was born in the wild, and would have stayed there for his entire life, but there was a small problem: He became one of the big alpha crocodiles and his territory stretched out to overlap with a public beach where people would take their dogs. I don’t need to spell out what happened next. Rex went from being a caution to a threat. After moving him into a crocodile centre, they hoped they could breed him. However, every time they tried to use him for breeding, he killed the female crocodile (brings all new meaning to “he’s just not that into you”!) So they moved him to Wild Life Sydney and he’s been happy ever since. I always find the prehistoric creatures like that fascinating, because I wonder how they managed to survive while so many other creatures failed to.
I wish I could tell you what came next, however, I can’t. It was the nightfall exhibit, where all the animals were nocternal animals. The lighting was set up so the animals would be able to be up whenever. However, my night vision isn’t perfect I suppose, because I couldn’t see a THING. Maybe they were all sleeping though. Who knows. Apparently there were bats. I hate bats. So it’s good I didn’t see them. I also avoided the room after completely, because it was the bugs room. I asked how creepy it was in there, and apparently there were lots of spiders and some cockroaches. No thank you.
And really, who cares about night animals or bugs when the final room is…. KOALA ENCOUNTERS.
YES. YOU COULD ENCOUNTER KOALAS. For a price.
I don’t think I even need to tell you that yes, I totally bought the cheapest package so I could get my photo taken with the koalas and pet one. I was pretty much the happiest person on earth for that minute. And I think the women taking the photos seemed happy then, because I wasn’t a psychotic 8 year old trying to touch the koalas. Always a good thing.
The koalas are the last exhibit as well, so once that was done, I sat around Darling Harbour, soaking in the wonderful post-koala after glow, simply enjoying the fact I was in Sydney. As every day goes by, I find it harder and harder for me to accept that I need to go back to South Korea in a few days. There are a lot of things I’ve been thinking about, and maybe when I get back I’ll find a way to put it into words. But lets put it simply as: this trip is just the spark for trips to come, not the quenching of a thirst to travel.
So, I’ve seen whales, koalas, kangaroos… I feel like I’m missing one more very distinctive, very Australian, very strange looking animals…
But that’s a story to be told tomorrow.