I’ve had a heck of a time wrapping my mind around the fact that it is winter in Australia. I left Raleigh in the 80s and arrived to Australia in the 60s. It was beautiful on Monday and has been raining ever since. Everyone tells me this is unusual for this time of year but Thursday was the 10 year anniversary of major flooding. Either way, the temperatures feel more like spring than winter. Because of this, I keep telling everyone I’m here for the summer and earning funny looks. Thanks to the rain, I haven’t been able to do much this week other than go to the university however, today I finally got to see koalas.
I am in Australia for the next two months to conduct research on elementary school student interest in and access to science, technology, engineering, and math. This may end up being a little complicated as they go on winter break at the end of the month. I spent this week trying to contact schools and meeting with professors at the university. It has been very interesting and I am fascinated with all the work everyone is doing. I’m not going to go into more details here but will save that for my professional blog if you decide you’re interested.
The Adventure Begins
Finally, last night, I decided to go on a bit of an adventure. I had done a bit of research and found out that there is a cheese festival next weekend. While as amazing as a cheese festival is, I decided it’s not really the type of thing I’d like to do on my own. So I decided to see if they have MeetUp down here. Sure enough they do and not only are people going to the cheese festival next weekend, they were meeting at a bar around the corner from my homestay last night.
So I set off in the rain to walk the two blocks to the pub: The Duke Wellington. On my way, an owl flew onto a pole right next to me. I took his photo but due to the rain, the distance, and the dark, this is the best I could get.
When I arrived at the hotel, I was a bit overwhelmed. Thankfully they had posted that there would be yellow balloons at the table so I could find them. The group was a bit older but very nice and welcoming. Everyone ordered drink and food specials. I ordered wings and sweet potato wedges since they were the only option for my diet. Most of the ladies had never ordered sweet potato fries before so I was happy to share. I thought it was interesting that they came with sour cream and sweet chili sauce.
We had a lovely conversation about the area, my travels, what I’m doing down here, the president, and things I should do while I’m visiting. Several people were watching a rugby game on tv which they seem to call football down here. Soccer= football. Rugby= football. American football= football. This is getting confusing. They also had digital Keno going on. I’m not really sure what it is but according to the paper, it’s gambling. Eventually, the evening’s entertainer took the stage. He had a mandolin, a guitar, a tambourine, and there were rumors of bagpipes but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. His opening song was Space Oddity.
I stayed for a few songs before heading back to the homestay while it had quit raining. According to the messages to the group I missed a bunch of dancing until late in the night. These ladies were all in their 50s+ so good on them.
Koalas, Kangaroos, and Emus! Oh My!
Today I got up and decided to risk the weather and walk to Blackbutt Nature Reserve. It took me two tries due to the rain but I finally made it there.
There is nice set of trails around the park but I followed the signs to the Animal Exhibits. I had been told there were kangaroos and koalas so I was on the lookout. The first thing I came to was the Emu and Kangaroo exhibit. The emus make a really interesting noise, like a drum. They followed me around for a bit. I was surprised that their eyes are red.
There were two types of kangaroos: wallaroos and red kangaroos. They were both adorable and looked a little miserable with the weather.
I made my way around their exhibit and ran into a peacock. It was quite interesting. They have free roaming peacocks, bush turkeys, and ducks.
On the other side of the playground and picnic shelters is the animal exhibits. The first exhibit was for the wombats but they were inside out of the rain so I headed into the aviary. There were several different species of parrots, herons, doves, and shore birds. But the main attraction were the koalas. Koalas sleep most of the day so I wasn’t surprised to see them all bunched up in furry balls.
However, I got very lucky as a couple of them were feeling damp and itchy. It made them a little more active. I enjoyed watching the funny faces and positions they got into trying to get comfortable again.
The animal preserve had several other aviaries with different types of birds such as a stilt, finches, and parrots.
There was a nocturnal exhibit with possums but I couldn’t find any animals in that one. It was very disappointing. However, the frog exhibit was very entertaining.
The final exhibit were the wombats. One was sleeping and the other was trying to eat his exhibit. I was disappointed he never turned around to look at me.
To finish my visit to the nature reserve, I went to their little kiosk and bought a postcard for my grandma and a cup of emu food. It came in an ice cream cone. The emu took it right out of my hand and shook it all over the ground to eat it at his leisure. A little kangaroo snuck over to get some as well. I decided the brevity of the experience is why it was only 80 cents.
So I said goodbye to my friends the emus and kangaroos and headed back down the trail. I saw on the map that there’s a colony of flying foxes on the property so I’ll have to go back on a nicer day and see if I can find them. The sun came out for a little bit on my trek home which was lovely. I am happy I finally had an opportunity to venture out today. Tomorrow I may join another meetup for a trail walk near my house that ends up at the ocean. I’m glad I thought to check them out. How do you find people to share adventures with when you’re traveling?