Monday, October 11, 2010

In which I succumb to the cute

Look, I wasn't coming all the way to Australia and not even seeing a damn koala or kangaroo. So even though I did avoid going to the amazing looking zoo on Wednesday, it was only because I was planning for a field trip to Featherdale.

It was Katrina who tossed me in the car that day. We'd met before, in the US, and it was great chatting with her at The Gathering. Paul, one of my hosts, had mentioned that at Featherdale Wildlife park, one can actually get up close and personal with the local versions of All Things Warm and Fuzzy, and once I learned I could actually *touch* a koala, forget it. I would have hitchhiked.

Taking the local tour was better, though. (Grin) We drove to the outlaying suburbs of Sydney and literally saw the first sign for this intimate little park about, oh, 100 yards from the entrance. It's smack in the middle of a neighborhood with single family homes and lawns and convenience stores; you can drive right by without noticing. Great Adventure, it's not!

But within three minutes of entering, I was face to face with a snoozing koala; in another ten, another one, a bit more awake, kept pulling eucalyptus leaves in front of us while Katrina tried to grab a steady photo.

OMG, the cute!! he was quite soft to touch and had dark brown eyes and, well, quite the appetite for the leaves, which I had once heard make them tipsy. This is apparently not true. But they do tend to prefer napping during a long day of entertaining tourists. They wedge themselves into the branches in what seem like occasionally unstable, if not uncomfortable positions and lord, they are dead cute. I had to be dragged away.

I mean, come on. It's not fair.

OK, then the kangaroos came over for a snack. They were also a tad blase about the tourists and could easily escape contact with toddlers and obnoxious people trying to get the right picture by merely hopping under the wooden fence understood to be their safety barrier. Of course, they could come back out again for an ice cream cone fulled with Roo-chow.

And just for you, Zil - I searched out the wombats. Here is a Southern Hairy-Nosed variety. They, like the koalas, believe the day is for napping and couldn't be bothered to pose.

Did I mention I had a blast? There were hundreds of birds, too, including the quite startling cassowary!

Featherdale was a perfect size for a nice morning outing, and it was great to get up close and personal with the various critters. We followed this visit with a nice drive up to the Blue Mountains, which several people felt obliged to apologize for, as though being an American, I naturally only appreciate giant pointy mountains with snow on top. But with views like this, I don't think there's anything to apologize for.

That's the Three Sisters formation. Pretty cool, huh?

After recovering from the vertigo, Katrina swept me off to the Paragon Cafe, a gorgeous art deco establishment in Katoomba, where I restored my energy with some tea. Sadly, the camera was dead at that point, or I'd include shots from inside the place, which was gorgeous.

Then back down the mountains we drove, with one quick stop at the roadside Ugg Boot stand - nah, didn't buy any - and made it back to the city in time for my reading. Amazingly, I hadn't bought a single souvenir all day!

So naturally, Courtney, who I'd met at the barbecue the previous night, brought me a whole BAG of great Australia keepsakes - including a stuffed koala. Obviously, I was meant to bring one home.

No comments: