Saturday, July 23, 2016

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Oh I have an exciting post for y'all today!

When debating what to do this weekend, I knew I wanted to do something special - because this weekend I figured I'd be a little homesick. I'm missing this year's Camp Meeting (family reunion on my dad's side), AND our good friends' wedding (Jeff was the best man). SO - needless to say it was a pretty big weekend in the States, so I wanted to make it a pretty big weekend in Oz, too!

I decided that Saturday would take me to Featherdale Wildlife Park. 

This place had come up a lot in my "pre-travel" research, and also came recommended by a couple of people. It's about an hour train ride from the city, so I woke up early, grabbed my book, and headed out!

After paying my entry fee (about $20), I grabbed a map and headed into the park. The map showed a kangaroo-looking shape near the entrance, but when I looked around at the cages, all I saw were birds. So I'm walking the trail, looking down at my map, when all of a sudden this big brown thing JETS across the trail right in front on me, and then another one shoots out on the trail right behind me. 

....and I just about wee-wee on myself. 

I start frantically looking around (I'm laughing as I type this because I probably looked like an idiot), trying to figure out what on earth just happened and if I should be alarmed for my safety. Then I see the people behind me pointing to a corner of the trail, and so I walk over and see this...

This precious little nugget (commonly referred to as a wallaby) is what just about sent me into cardiac arrest. And then it hit me that I was in a wildlife park - not a zoo. And in wildlife parks, these things are free roaming. The only other wildlife parks I've been to in the States are the drive-through ones. So this? This was new for me. 

Side note: it is slightly terrifying to be half blind in a wildlife park. Sometimes I'd be crouched down, focused on one wallaby and then look to my left and another was staring me in the face. I'm laughing again. Pretty sure I screamed "AH!" about 7 different times in that park. 

The park has cones full of feed available for purchase so you can feed the animals. I wasn't quite sure what to do (and still a little shaky from almost being road kill), but I bought some food, crouched down, and soon had brunch with a little friend :)

I now have an obsession with wallabies. They're so stinking adorable. They look a lot like kangaroos (especially from the back), but they're a lot smaller and their arms are quite short. This guy is a full grown wallaby and smaller than a baby roo (which you'll see later). 

I love this one. He's like the poster child for a happy wallaby.

About mid-cone, this wallaby (let's call him Walter) had a him (let's call him William). And then I was feeding TWO wallabies! And by this point I'm pretty sure I looked like a kid on Christmas morning. #purejoy

I love William's face in the back. Looks like he's straight up eatin' a taco. 

I will say, if you're planning to visit Australia (which you should), and you plan to come to Featherdale (which you should), then you definitely should come in the morning. They feed the animals at lunch, and as I was walking out to leave I saw a lot of unsuccessful feedings from the visitors. But when I got there around 10:30 they were eager and hungry!

Also like kangaroos, wallabies keep their babies in pouches. Towards the end of my visit, I passed the wallabies and saw this: 

Y'all. Do you see that? That little pink 5-padded paw? THAT'S A FOOT. The stuffed animals that show a cute little furry head popping out are not 100% accurate. Maybe it's because I haven't reached motherhood yet but this seriously gave me the willies. And I apparently showed the disgust on my face because she looked at me and then hopped inside her house. Sorry, mama. 

After the wallabies I continued on the trail to the wombats. Now these not-so-little guys were enclosed a bit more than the others. I was curious as to why and then saw the sign that said "I bite" next to them. Right. Got it. 

You could still feed them, so I bought another cone, held it over the top of the railing, and then he stood on his hind legs and came up and got it! 

Aaaand considering he is known to bite, I didn't put up too much of a fight when he took the whole cone in one chomp. All yours, Mr. Wombat. ....sir. 

At this point I decided it was time to see a 'roo. I've loved kangaroos ever since I was little (did a project about them actually), primarily because they were always the animal that showed up next to the letter "K" growing up. So it was time to please 5-year old Katy.

I walk into Kangaroo Kingdom (I wish I was being cute but that's really what they called it), and this is what I saw....

...and not gonna lie, I thought the one on the right was dead. Turns out that when kangaroos sleep (or sunbathe), that's how they lay. #chillin

Then I saw these other two roos over on a grassy knoll with a couple of girls, so I went to check it out. One of the girls asked if I wanted her to take my picture, and then the other girl told me that she was a photographer. That made my answer quite easy. It also gave me this little gem. 

  I was feeding one, petting the other, and on an all time high. 

One of the coolest experiences ever!! 

Then I went and found a post-pouch joey. We hung out and I fed him a snack. As you can see, his arms are much bigger than the wallaby. 

 I actually took a video of both the roo and wallaby eating and put them side by side. You can check them out on either Facebook or instagram :)

I hung out with them for a while and then continued through the park to the koala cuddling. Now, as you know, you can't hold a koala in New South Wales. And while you still couldn't hold them here, you could pet them. #gettingcloser 

Meet Cooper.

He slept through approximately 569,253 visitors petting and taking pictures of him. I was beginning to think he was stuffed, but he happened to move to the other side of the tree right before my turn. 

I actually thought about doing a little match-making and telling him about a cutie named Wattle, but Cooper seemed to So I decided to just stay out of it. :)

The next time you see a picture of me and a koala, I will be holding it like a small child.

Last on my list was to see the dingos. The dingos sadly weren't free-roaming. Their info said they didn't eat people, but I guess large-dog-wolf things running around would likely scare small children. 

...yeah okay. I can see how that might be scary. This one was definitely the alpha male. And then I saw this one trotting around a corner and his mannerisms (and big ole head) reminded me so much of Charlie. I still don't know what kind of dog(s) Char is, but heck - he could be part Dingo!

Look at those eyes! That is Char Man! And then when I was headed to leave, this one curled up in a ball under some shade and started licking himself. Yep - just like my boy. 

These were my main stops at the wildlife park, but there were also tons of birds and reptiles. As birds and reptiles scare the absolute bejeezus out of me, I stuck to hanging out with my fuzzy, warm-blooded marsupial friends. 

All in all - a FANTASTIC morning/afternoon. I would 100% recommend this little adventure!

And then I took myself on an amazing date night tonight. I'm a great catch :)

 But this post is long enough; more on that later!

Until next time,


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