Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

It was dark in the platypus habitat, and I was happy for that when I realised there were tears streaming down my face. I’ve always dreamed of getting up close with them, but you can’t see a live platypus outside of Australia. In that moment, I realised that I had done the “impossible.” It tumbled into me that we are actually here- this is real this is HAPPENING!

And so I stood there and wept. I wept for joy, and I wept for the little girl I was so long ago- the girl who was told time and again that my options were limited; that I could only ever go so far in life; that opportunities really only come for those who have the luxury of options- and that didn’t include me.

I watched the goofy, bumbling creature knock about- bonking up against the stones and plants in her underwater habitat- searching endlessly for food. I tried to take a photo, but the slippery girl was too fast, too random in her movements to track. Perhaps I need to reconsider the rhino as my soul-match animal. I see a lot of myself in the platypus.

Since I couldn’t get a clear photo of her, I went over and got this shot of a skeleton. If you want to see her live, you’ll have to come on down here yourself. I’ll make the bed for you.

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While I was rapt with the platypus, O was equally entranced by the Tasmanian devils. I have to admit that these guys were a lot cuter than I had anticipated, which perhaps says more about how gross I thought they would be, rather than a testament to their cuteness. One of the devils was particularly active, trotting about through the three large, interconnecting habitats. He was playing to his audience, clambering up on a log to greet us with that- that one sharp snaggletooth the only indication of what he is capable of doing to us should we actually attempt to touch him.

And, I realised, I could probably have touched him if I wanted to. There seems to be a different safety standard regarding proximity to beasts here.

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We saw the dingos next. To which O stated “It’s just a regular dog.”

I think the dingos would disagree, but no one ever asked them.

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Aside from the platypus, I was most excited to see the wombats. I am a weirdo freak for wombats. This is the animal that makes me shake joyful fists in front of my chest and make that “squeee” sound that happens when you see something too cute to comprehend. But wombats are A) nocturnal, B) lazy, and C) less impressed with me than O was with dingos.

So, I took pictures of them sleeping. A lot of pictures. An embarrassment of pictures. And then found a little hidey-hole where O and I pretended to “cuddle up” to them. I would have stayed there all day, but some other families saw what I’d found and wanted to get in on the action, too. I’ll spare you the multitudes of images and just post these two.

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For those of you who know me- you know how actually terrified of birds I am. Yes, I kept chickens- but those don’t count- and no one ever said I wasn’t scared of them, too. I didn’t get any photos of the section of pathway that is flanked by bird enclosures. This was partly out of fear paralysis… okay, it was entirely that- but I did find it interesting that cockatoos come in more colours than just white. We saw black ones, pink ones, grey ones.. all of them equally disturbing. Something about those raptor eyes. The evidence is clear- these are just dinosaurs in feather drag. They will kill us all.

Which brings us to the big birds.

In the kangaroo enclosure, there were also emus. I was fine, so long as they were wandering away from me- but then one came right at us. Yeah- nah. Not so much with the cool then.

Far away from all the other everything, there was also a cassowary. A very scary cassowary. With big claws and a chilling glare. Again, I was surprised that nothing but a chainlink fence was between us and this cold-blooded killer. If we had wanted to reach through and touch it, we probably could have. Maybe this is Australia’s way of serving survival-of-the-fittest.

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Some random photos before the jump to kangaroos. “Jump”- get it?! Ahhahaaa- I kill me sometimes.

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X and O trying to get our bearings.

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The kangaroo enclosure was super cool. Except for the part where there was an echidna overlook which overlooked exactly zero echidnas. I assumed that they were just hiding somewhere, sleeping. But I met a man a few days ago who said he used to eat porko-sammies, or porcupine(meaning echidna) sandwiches, as a child. He said they were delicious. So, maybe someone ate the echidnas. I don’t know.

Anyway- there were so many kangaroos! This photo is nowhere close to representative. These were only a handful of the ones who were in the designated no-visitor “Kanga Lounge.” There were many more. I would put the number in the hundreds.

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At $2/each at the gift shop, we bought two bags of kangaroo feed, which was more than enough. Kangaroo food, by the way, looks suspiciously like guinea pig food. Turns out, these ‘roos are so calm and well fed that you don’t even have to try to ply them with treats. They don’t even bother to look up when you approach. Some of them just lounge on their sides, pellets scattered around their heads, occasionally making the half-effort to nibble from your hands.

If you look carefully at the below picture, you can see that the kangaroo that O os feeding has a joey in her pouch. He kept sticking his feet and head out, but she would shove him back in. Guess she wanted all the snacks for herself. I can get down with that.

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X thought this lifestyle was exactly his speed.

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Ya know, just hanging out with a lazy ‘roo- like ya do.

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Now, about the koalas. There are lots of koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. “Heaps” of koalas- as they would say here. There are at least twelve different “houses” and a koala forest for them to …  do whatever koalas do (sleep?).. in.

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There is also a part where you can cuddle and have photos made with koalas.

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Before we get too far, I must say that I admire the system they have in place for this. The koalas are all hand-raised, so they are accustomed to being handled, but they are also put on a time-limit of half an hour per day of visitor contact. Also “cuddling” is merely an adorable term for standing very still and holding them. The keeper instructed us on how to hold our hands just so, and to “act like a tree- BE a tree!” She then placed and positioned Minty on me, and I did my best to tree-cuddle her wooly tummy. And Minty grabbed my boob pretty hard, and I did my tree-like best not to jerk away. This was for a family photo, after all.

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So, if this were a review- I would give Lone Pine all the stars. We didn’t get to see the sheepdog show, or the Tasmanian devil feedings. They also have a reptile house that was closed when we got there, and barnyard with tiny goats and chickens and some guinea pigs that we didn’t get photos of.

And, despite the kids insistence on never smiling for any photograph never-ever, they did actually have a wonderful time. We’ll certainly be going back when our visitors from the US start showing up.

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