People who know my family in real life know that my girls adore koalas. Hell, people who don’t know my family in real life know that my girls adore koalas. So, as far as my girls were concerned, the primary reason to travel to Australia is that it is the natural habitat of koalas.
The girls wanted koalas? We gave them koalas.
This morning — after we’d already been awake for hours — we got up, walked along the river, and hopped on a boat.
We cruised leisurely down the Brisbane River and ended up at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary — a place where they’ve been taking care of those fuzzy gray marsupials since 1927.
We walked in and within moments, not only were we looking at koalas, we were squealing with delight over a mama and her joey.
I could have looked at that little one all day. So. Darn. Cute.
There were loads of koalas — well over 100 — and I think I took photos of them all. They were divided into groups: the little ones (1-2 years), older boys, older girls, mature females, grumpy old bachelors, elderly koalas, and so on.
Along the way, we saw other animals, including flying foxes (a type of fruit bat), kookaburras, a platypus, wombats, Tasmanian devils, a baby saltwater croc, kangaroos, dingos, and more. My girls even petted a dingo (on a leash and no babies were eaten) and fed and petted kangaroos.
But back to those koalas… After all, that’s why we were there. We attended a short talk about koalas and then a great opportunity presented itself:
But that’s not all. Oh no, that was definitely not all.
One of the amazing things that Lone Pine offers is the chance to hold a koala in your very own arms. The folks there are very careful with how much the koalas are handled — each koala is held no more than 30 minutes a day (this is closely monitored) and gets every fourth day off. It costs a little money to get to cuddle with Minty or Fuschia or any of the others, but still, the opportunity was just too good to be missed.
Here’s how it goes:
- You stand with your feet in a designated spot and a zookeeper stands near you with a koala.
- You hold your hands out, palms up, with one hand supporting the other.
- The zookeeper puts the koala on your hands and, chances are, the koala will snuggle up to you.
- Smile for the camera while trying not to spazz because there’s an actual real live koala in your arms.
What is there to say, except that holding a koala is all kinds of wonderful. They’re surprisingly heavy, but definitely soft and fluffy. Since they poop 300 times a day — that is not an exaggeration and is straight from a zookeeper’s mouth — I wouldn’t want one, but I will say, that baby was pretty dang precious:
After spending four or five hours at Lone Pine, it was time to leave. Instead of taking a boat back, we went back into town on a city bus, which was actually comfortable and pretty nice. After getting off, we still had a couple of miles to walk but we took the path along the river and it was beautiful, as expected. We made dinner in the apartment and the girls were in bed by 7:30. All in all, we had been awake for 17 hours or so and had walked more than six miles, plus I went for a two mile run as soon as the sun rose. It was a full day, but it was a great day.