Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Australia 2016, Day 4 - Featherdale Wildlife Park, Blue Mountains

Day 4 was Saturday of a three-day weekend, which meant Stephanie was off work and we got to spend three whole days together! Our original plan was to go to Melbourne, but it turned out to be way too expensive, so we decided to enjoy Sydney together, including some places and activities that neither of us had experienced yet. 

First stop - Featherdale Wildlife Park! On my last visit to Australia one of the highlights was getting to hold two koalas. I would have loved to do that again, but it is illegal in most of Australia including NSW (the state Sydney is in). Stephanie got me as close as possible to a koala, though, and I got to see wombats and a quokka for the first time. Featherdale was pretty much what I expected - a wildlife park where many of the animals are in pens but you can get close and touch quite a few of them. Just inside the main entrance was a beautiful white kookaburra. It wasn't albino, just white, and gorgeous! Kookaburras are my favorite bird, so I was enamored by this guy.
Stephanie's favorite animal is the penguin, so we spent a good while watching the playful antics of this group of blue fairy penguins (the world's smallest penguins) during feeding time. Then we bought a cone of wombat/roo feed, walked over to the wombat pen, Stephanie bent down to give him some food, and that big ole wombat took the whole cone out of her hands and just chowed down! I had to go buy another cone!
We also saw a couple of echidnas feasting on their tasty lunch, some pretty funny-looking storks, several tawny frogmouth owls that were so camouflaged that Stephanie walked right by and missed them, and another beautiful kookaburra, this time with the typical blue features. 
And I got to pet a cute little quokka, who had apparently stolen someone else's food cone - he was content to stand and munch while I rubbed his head, even though he was so small that I could barely reach him over the fence.


Obviously I was excited to see the koalas, especially Archer, who is a bit of an internet star and is a southern Victorian koala was a gorgeous thick dark fur. He was too interested in his eucalyptus meal to pay us any attention though. After walking through the koala enclosure and seeing many cute little guys, some eating, some sleeping, some just hanging out, we got in line to meet and "pat" a koala. Our friend was Victor, and he just wanted to scratch. Seriously, he stuck that leg up in the air and scratched and scratched and showed off everything he had, lol! Finally he settled down and we got some cute pictures as he went to sleep.

Dude, put your leg down! 

Sweet sleepy boy!

We also spent a good bit of time wandering through several groups of wallabies and kangaroos. Many were lounging in the warm sun, others were eating or playing or interacting with visitors. We got to pat quite a few of them, scratch their heads, rub their bellies, feed them, and get really up close and personal. It was so cool!
Stephanie patting a wallaby
I love the expression of bliss on his face -
he loved having his head scratched!
Rub my belly!
I love this little wallaby face!
This is a fun progression of pictures of me interacting with a wallaby.
Featherdale is on the way to the Blue Mountains, and since it was such a brilliant day we decided to hop on a train and get even further out of the city. We got off the train in Katoomba and took a bus over to Echo Point, a wonderful lookout point where the Blue Mountains showed the reason for their name (caused by the eucalyptus oil coming off the trees) and the Three Sisters glowed in the golden hour as the sky turned shades of pink and lavender. 
It was quite windy at the lookout!
We decided to walk along the path from Echo Point to Scenic World, a tourist destination that we had visited in 2014, where you can take a cable car or steep mountain railway down into the temperate rain forest in the valley of the Blue Mountains. As we walked, the sun started setting and it got darker, so we abandoned our walk and caught the scenic skyway across the ravine, then headed back to town for a delicious meal of schnitzel and chips - yum - and a train ride back to Sydney. We were worn out but happy after such a fun day.

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