Friday, July 25, 2014

Down Under, Day #4 - Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide

We started the day with an early morning flight from Sydney to Adelaide. I couldn't believe that less than 3 full days after my extremely long flight from Atlanta, I was boarding another flight. Thankfully this one was only 2 hours, because the plane was a whole lot smaller! I had the window seat, and could actually see a lot of the city as we ascended. Check it out - you can see the bridge and the Opera House! You know I couldn't resist taking a picture or two. :)
When we got to Adelaide, we caught a cab to the hotel. It was too early to check in, so we left our bags with the concierge and headed out to catch a bus to the Cleland Wildlife Park. We had to transfer buses outside of town, and were surprised at how much cooler it was. The driver of the second bus was really nice - we were the only two people on the bus, and he knew we were going to Cleland. He had to stop at a lookout area for 10 minutes as part of his route, and told us we could go up to the lookout if we wanted. He promised to let us know before he left, so we wouldn't miss the bus. 
Finally we made it to Cleland Wildlife Park. I wasn't really sure what to expect, though most of the reviews online were quite positive. As we got there, a couple of school groups were getting ready to leave. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves. We did see a few other guests here and there, but mostly it was just the two of us and all the animals. 

The first animals we encountered were a group of kangaroos. They weren't too excited to visit with us or eat our food - I think they had been well-fed by the school kids. We continued walking around and came upon some bandicoots, pelicans, an emu and some Cape Barren Geese - they are very pretty, with a lime green beak and pink legs and feet.  


The next group of kangaroos we encountered were much more friendly and curious. A couple of them were either playing or fighting, not sure which. One looked like he was exercising - he kept sticking his leg up in the air and sticking his tongue out, silly guy! A couple of them were eager to eat, so we fed them by hand. How cool! We also saw a Tasmanian Devil and even a wild kookaburra! Continuing on our walk, we found an Australian Grey Kangaroo and a really BIG kangaroo. I very hesitantly approached him, because I've heard kangaroos can be mean and actually kick you if they feel threatened. He was hesitant too, but actually ate out of my hand, and then gave Stephanie the evil eye for taking his picture. 
Love this guy's expression!
That's one big kangaroo!
The kookaburra sits in the old gum tree...
Can't believe I'm feeding the really big guy!
Tasmanian Devil
The last group of roos we met were the best. There were about 4 or 5 of them, including a momma with a joey in her pouch. The joey even popped his head out for a while, though we couldn't get close to him. But momma was apparently very hungry - she stuck her nose in Stephanie's bag of food, and then gripped it in a fist and took it right out of Stephanie's hand! Silly kangaroo!  

One of my favorite photos from the entire trip.
Momma and joey
The kangaroo whisperer
Without a doubt, the absolute highlight of our time at Cleland was the koala encounters. From the time I started planning my trip to Australia, I told Stephanie I wanted to go somewhere that I could hold a koala. Apparently it's illegal in most Australian states, so it wasn't an option in Sydney. But in South Australia there are several places where it's possible - that's one of the main reasons we went to Cleland. Stephanie decided she was just going to watch me hold the koala, but once she saw how amazing it was, she quickly changed her mind. It wasn't cheap, but it was so worth it!

First we saw a few koalas sleeping in the trees...
Then we met Willow. We were able to get close, touch, and feed her, but not hold her.
And then they brought out Koko - what a big fellow! I was completely surprised by how big he was - and heavy too! There were a few other people in line before us, so I used the time to figure out the best settings on my camera. They provided one photo, but I know I rarely like the photos of me that places like this take, so I wanted Steph to take a couple as well (and I'm glad I did!). And the rangers were kind enough to take a couple of pictures of both of us together as well. I can't say enough about how much fun this experience was. I've had some people tell me that when they held a koala it peed on them, or smelled, or had other issues. Koko was clean, didn't smell, and was very sweet, even if he does look like he's getting fresh with me in a couple of the photos. :) Stephanie and I talked about Koko for the rest of the trip - it was unforgettable!
Up close and personal
She was so glad she decided to hold him.
Finally we headed out from Cleland back into Adelaide. We wandered around and had dinner, then turned in early because we had to leave our hotel at 6am the next morning to go to Kangaroo Island. Our excursion into South Australia was off to a wonderful start!

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