Kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, and koalas
Three weeks into our trip to Australia, we hadn’t seen any indigenous marsupials of Australia. We resolved that deficiency with an afternoon visit with Steve and Bev to the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.
Our day traveling began at Mt. Lofty, the highest point in South Australia with a splendid view of Adelaide, the lowlands near the Southern Ocean, farms, and dense forests of gum trees. The weather was clear, the sky a brilliant blue, blending into the Southern Ocean.
Next stop, Antarctica, 2000 kilometers to the south.
Cleland Wildlife Park
We were very excited driving a half hour from Mt. Lofty to the Cleland Wildlife Park where indigenous animals live in natural habitat open to visitors. We hurried through gates from the entrance, down paths through more gates, finally entering a hillside shaded by gum trees.
Then we saw our first kangaroo resting in the shade, watching us approach. He sat up, hopped off, and we continued our walk, seeing several kangaroos resting in the shade of gum trees.
We approached slowly and fed younger kangaroos with bags of special food purchased at the entrance. Other kangaroos saw us and let us approach to offered them food which they took from our hands. They knew the drill; tourists come with bags in their hands, go over and get a snack.
We spent the afternoon walking through the wildlife park, feeding and petted kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, living in gated areas with room to roam, rest, and sleep. We saw wallabies joeys tucked in their mother’s pouches. Wallabies are smaller marsupial similar to the kangaroo but a bit shyer. They approached us for food, then hopped away.
Wombats can be a bit dangerous, so they keep them in a pen and we weren’t allowed to touch them. They burrows in the ground and are elusive. After watching three or four feeding from a bowl for about five minutes, we only glimpsed their faces. Wombats like their privacy.
Emus are strange birds much larger than I imagined. They came up to us as we offered them food. They were gentle, and their big eyes looked right at us. We were able to get so close we could almost pet them, but resisted, not sure if that beak would grab a finger.
Rosellas and lorikeets
We had a quick lunch back at the park cafe right after caretakers had put food into dishes for the native birds. The racket was noisy but entertaining as the parrot like rosellas and lorikeets flew from dish to dish, flying back into the trees before diving to eat some more. We heard the chatter even after we continued our walk to the pond and koala enclosure.
The strangest creatures we saw were echidnas, round bundles of yellow spikes around a balloon body. Echidnas live underground most of the time, spend their days searching for ants and grubs.
Their safeguard are the sharp spikes that protrude from their bodies like darning needles. Odd creatures, not recommended for house pets.
Our most fun experience was petting a koala under the watchful eye of a naturalist. Koalas are fragile, cuddly creatures who sleep 20 hours a day. They live on a diet of gum tree leaves that provide little nourishment. Koalas eat all day (when they’re awake), their primary activity after sleeping.
We also saw birds, waterfowl, reptiles and other strange animals like the Tasmanian Devil – black and furry like a small dog, with a red spot on the inside ear. Very fast and elusive. We didn’t get a picture because they ran from bush to bush, only catching fleeting glances at them.
We spent a few minutes at a station where a naturalist was talking about Australian reptiles. The featured reptile was an Olive Python which can grow quite large. He exhibited one that was about 2 meters long. The naturalist explained that olive pythons are not dangerous for human since we’re too big to swallow. They squeeze smaller animals to death and then devouring them. They’re not poisonous. He asked some children to come down to hold the python to show that we don’t have to fear this snake. (We’ll have more on olive pythons we handled at the Alice Springs Reptile Center in a future post).
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Next: Australian gum trees
As many of you know, I also write mysteries and romantic suspense novels.
I recently published my first international thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, which is available on Kindle as well as other ereaders, tablets, and smartphones.
I’m back in Europe for the summer to hire a translator and to research my next book which will also be a thriller based in Milan. I’ll be posting along the way from Milan, Stresa, Zurich and other locations.
I have a few posts on another blog, Anatomy of a Thriller, where I write about the process of researching and writing an international thriller. I’ll add more posts there as well.
Please share these links with writers or readers who might be interested.