Monday, December 19, 2011

Kola Poo!



Believe it or not, the highlight of our visit yesterday to the Australian city of Brisbane, was our side trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Lisa and I had read about this facility in some of the material provided to us by the cruise ship, and when we first met our driver, the very first suggestion he made was that we drive immediately to the sanctuary. Apparently this facility is very well known, and I can tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was about a 30 minute drive south of the city, and on our arrival, we just happened to be in time for the feeding of the wild lorikeets.

DSCN0677A lorikeet is a very colorful bird that looks like a small parrot. The feeding area was right by the entrance, and so we paused for a little bit to see what this would be about. We sat on benches with a small crowd of people, and in looking around there was not a lorikeet insight. Soon a young member of the staff arrives with a container of liquid food, and she starts to fill the feeding dishes that are lined up on pedestals in front of our benches. Suddenly-and I do mean suddenly-the trees and the sky become alive with wild lorikeets. I am not very good at estimating numbers, but let's just say that every tree in sight was literally filled with wild birds, and they were darting to and fro over our heads, sometimes sitting on people's shoulders, and all clamoring to get to the feeding dishes. It was quite a sight to behold, and of course, Lisa and I both ended up taking tons of pictures, a few of which have actually made it to our website for your enjoyment.

A short walk up the hill from the feeding area was an enclosure that housed kangaroos and emus. DSCN0701The animals in the enclosure were of course quite used to people, so you could literally walk right up to an emu and take a picture without any fear of being attacked. The same was true with regard to the kangaroos, and there you could actually walk up and pet them, although they certainly preferred visiting with people who had purchased feed beforehand.

Brisbane, Australia I had invited our driver to walk with us, and as I was passing the kangaroos, he explained to me that he had been born on a farm just south of the city, and that his family still lives there. Where they live, the "roos" are actually considered a pest, and the county encourages farmers to cull the size of the kangaroo population. In fact, he said at the beginning of the year, the county would issue each farmer a stack of "roo medallions." The farmer was then expected to collect that many roos, tag them, and turn them over to the county to be eliminated. My driver explained that the roos not only ate all the grass, but when the grass was gone, they actually pulled the roots of out of the ground and ate the roots too. They are very destructive to farming operations, and for this reason, their numbers need to be controlled.

Walking through the zoo, we encountered a few other interesting animals some of whose pictures you will see on our website. Finally we came to what they called the koala cuddling area. Here you can have your picture taken with a koala. Their professional photographer would take the picture, which would automatically transfer wirelessly to a nearby printer where the pictures would then be printed and put in a small cover that you could pick up afterwards. To my surprise, the photographs are also posted online for 60 days so their friends and family can see the event. I tried to get Lisa to go through the process, but she was too shy. I had no such reservations so I rushed into the gift shop and purchased a ticket and ran to get in line for my experience. I have to tell you what happened exactly as it occurred to me.

When my turn came the handler of the koala called me forward and as she did so, I happened to look down and notice that I was walking on the floor covered with koala poop. Brisbane, AustraliaIt was then that I looked up at the trainer who was leaning over with the koala to place the animal on my shoulder, and as she leaned forward, however, the koala was in the process of reminding me of a slot machine that was in payoff mode. There was a constant stream of poop balls falling out of the bottom of the animal. I kept telling the lady that my arm was not ready for the animal yet, and she kept trying to put the koala in my arm and I kept backing up. It became an almost humorous game, but I didn't want to hold that beautiful koala on the bottom and end up with koala poop all over the front of my clothes. Finally the payoff stopped, and the small little cuddly thing grabbed hold and some pictures were taken. All I can tell you is that the animal is just as cute as it looks in the photograph. Koalas, of course, spend their days sleeping in Eucalyptus trees. They eat the Eucalyptus leaves to the point that they kill the tree, and then they move on to a fresh crop. Since Eucalyptus leaves are not very nourishing, the animals have to eat a great deal, and even then they get only small amounts of energy so that they spend most of their time, over 18 hours a day, sleeping in the trees. Sadly these lovely animals are endangered by urban sprawl in their habitat areas, but Australia is taking extensive steps to try to protect the species. For those of you who would like to see the original picture that was taken by the professional photographer, you can direct your browser to the following link:

There is not a great deal that I can say about the city of Brisbane itself, except that it was absolutely beautiful, and clearly was involved in very extensive development and growth. It was first founded in 1823 as a penal colony, but today is home to over 2 million people. It is also the capital of Queensland, and is considered one of Australia's up-and-coming cities. Brisbane, AustraliaThey have a large and quite beautiful city center, but the city itself is spread out over a large area through which is intertwined an elaborate freeway system, so that reaching virtually any part of the city takes very little time. We drove to two different places where pictures over the city and of the city could be taken, and then our driver took us down town to drive us through the city center itself. The city was very much alive with restaurants and cafés and coffee houses, and we saw a huge performing arts complex which also housed two separate museums of art. Interestingly, the city also had its own Chinatown, and in fact has quite a large Asian population.

Today our ship continues cruising south towards our destination of Sydney where we should arrive tomorrow morning.

Hope all is well,


No comments: