Australia Zoo - May 26
Only having eight days with our camper meant we had to pick our destinations carefully, and the Australia Zoo was a place we did not want to miss. We had heard great things abut the Australia Zoo from our friend Dion (whom we met in Easter Island) as well as other backpackers and locals in Cairns. We were not dissapointed!
We arrived midday to find that the entrance fee to the zoo was not cheap, $54 dollars per person! Very expensive for two backpackers with no income. Interesting fact - The Australia Zoo was first started by Steve Irwin's parents but was later taken over by Steve and his wife Terry. If you've been living under a rock and don't know, Steve Irwin is the famous 'Crocodile Hunter', which is a very popular animal/wildlife show where he tackles enormous crocs and handles deadly venomous snakes.
One of the main attractions for us was to see all the giant crocodiles. Crikey! But in reality we were not that impressed with the crocs. We'd been to a crocodile farm in Langkawi Malaysia that had much larger crocs. I guess we went in with our expectations set too high.
Still, there were quite a few crocs and it was interesting reading about their backgrounds and how they were captured and brought to the zoo. Many of them by Steve himself! It sounds a bit tacky but it was cool looking at crocs that we had seen captured during the taping of his show (how North American?!)
We did however find ourselves drawn to the lazy koalas and kangaroo's. Koalas are very cute and docile creatures that are very soft. We had no idea that they slept 18-20 hours a day due to their strict diet of eucalyptous leaves. Apparently it takes them a long to digest. Nicole was very excited to pet them on the bottom while they slept - we were told that they cannot feel anything in that area so it doesn't disturb them.
The kangaroos are probably the funniest looking animals we've seen. We bought a small bag of food for a dollar and had the Roo's and the Wallibies gently eating from our hands. You could tell they were well fed as some of them didn't even bother moving from their lazy positions. It was such a neat experience being up close and petting these truly original, one-of-a-kind mammals. A definite highlight on our Australian adventures.
The zoo was surprisingly large and also had tigers, elephants, red pandas, several tropical birds, and of course Australia's deadliest snakes. We had the opportunity to see the fierce snake, said to be the most venomous snake in the world. Even Steve Irwin didn't even want to deal with that guy. Thankfully he was caged behind thick glass!
The red pandas were also fantastic creatures that we had never seen or even heard of prior to visiting the zoo. They aren't like a typical black and white panda, they are small, orange-ish red, fox-like animals with big bushy tails, and they prefer to hang out in the treetops - take a look at the pictures to see this strange looking animal.
We spent five hours at the zoo and easily could have stayed longer, but it was closing time. Before leaving, we wanted to purchase something to remember the park and settled on the autobiography of Steve Irwin, written by his wife Terry. It was time to move on yet again, and in order to see the much anticipated Brisbane in the morning, we needed to find a campground for the night.
Our map showed two free campsites just outside of Brisbane, but, to our frustration, this was the time our map was wrong (or at least outdated). After two very long, heated hours of driving in the dark we finally found a campsite and called it a day. We were looking forward to finally seeing a 'big city' in Australia. Next stop, Brisbane!