Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Excellent Adventure Down Under

Featherdale Wildlife Park

FINALLY! We had a day for adventure, and I wanted to see Australian animals. There are 2 places we could go that showcase Australia’s animal life: Taronga Zoo or the Featherdale Wildlife Park. We’d heard and read that the wildlife park allowed a more intimate and closeup view, so that’s how we decided to go there. It’s about an hour or so train ride from Sydney. These are commuter trains we take, and they have their own story to tell; yes, that means I have another blog I want to write!! So many blogs….but let’s get back to Featherdale. The link is here: 

but here is a brief history from that site:

“Established on 7 acres of land originally purchased by Charles and Marjorie Wigg in 1953, Featherdale has evolved from a poultry farm into one of the best privately owned wildlife parks in Australia. The Wigg’s son-in-law, Bruce Kubbere, studied Australian fauna from early childhood and with his vision and encouragement, Featherdale opened to the public as a wildlife park in 1972.  In the early years Bruce, and his wife Margaret, operated a plant nursery in conjunction with the Wildlife Park. Beautiful Australian native trees and plants now line the walkways and landscape the enclosures as a legacy of the park’s history.  Featherdale’s future was threatened in 1975 with plans to use the property for a housing commission development. The then Premier, Sir Robert Askin, was presented with thousands of signed petitions, most of which were signed on behalf of local residents who stressed “the importance of Featherdale Wildlife Park” to district school children. Fortunately, the government rescinded its original decision and the park was saved.”
It's very small, but that makes it an easy day for walking around. I, for one, am glad they saved it!
Interestingly, this park is in the middle of a neighborhood in a community called Doonside. Literally in the neighborhood. This is the street view from outside the park:
I can only imagine how much fun it must be to live near here. They have lots of birds/fowl, which include cockatoos, parrots, kookaburras, owls, storks, emus, peacocks, and eagles. If you’ve ever had parrots and/or cockatoos, you will know that they have their noisy times, usually early morning and evening. Owls, of course, talk in the evening. I haven’t heard a kookaburra yet live, but what I’ve heard online when I investigated their call is LOUD. I personally love birds and all their various vocal talents, so I mean it when I say it must be great fun to live in this neighborhood. It must be a symphony of bird calls when they all start up! I can't forget the penguins either!! Yes, penguins! The cutest little penguins! They are known as Little Blue Penguins, Blue Penguins, or Fairy Penguins, and are common around the southern coast of Australia and in New Zealand. Here are some pictures so you can see some of what we saw, but there are so many varieties of birds, I can’t possibly post them all. I never knew there was a black cockatoo! So many beautiful birds here….


albino kookaburra
black cockatoo



little blue penguins
The kangaroos were lots of fun. The first thing we noted was that they were small, so small, I thought we were looking at wallabies. I’m no expert, so I finally looked them up on the internet and sure enough, kangaroos come in all sizes. Wallabies tend to be on the small side, but I guess one way way to tell the difference is by their heads. A kangaroo’s face/snout is longer. I found this info from a website called “How Stuff Works”.

Kangaroos can also get to be quite large, whereas wallabies stay on the small side. Good thing they keep small ones at Featherdale, because they’re just out, hopping next to you! Great fun, kind of exciting.. but I don’t think I’d like to meet one that was 8’ tall like that! The kangaroos at Featherdale are used to visitors, so it’s easy to reach down and pet one. The hardest thing is getting the children out of your way so you can get in close!!

Then, there were the koalas. That’s what you’ve mostly been waiting to see, yes? Well, us too! We were there on a warm day and of course, koalas are nocturnal, so here’s mostly what we saw:
And the ones we did see? Asleep. I mean really, really ASLEEP.

I wish I could sleep like that! One of the most fun things at Featherdale is that you can also pet the koala! So we did! The koala could’ve cared less. At least he didn’t wake up and bite me! I really wanted to scoop him up and give him a big cuddle, but I resisted (besides, you should see the claws on this guy!). And I really wanted to stand there and pet him for a long time, but there were other people in line, so a quick pet is all we got.  And yes, his fur is kinda soft. I want to go back and pet him again!


We wandered over to see the dingos, but guess what! Asleep. Couldn’t see a thing. We did see this tho:
I have no idea what that is, but its cute little butt was just all we could see.

We went to the reptile house and saw snakes and lizards (of course!) But my favorite sight was this little guy who was outside the reptile house. I couldn’t decide if he was trying to get in or just happy to be out!
And then, there was this:

That little wall around him just didn’t seem tall enough or strong enough. Luckily, he looked well-fed and sleepy, and totally uninterested in any of us staring at him. This guy gave me the willies.

All in all, it was a really nice day. A little warm so most of the animals were asleep, but still a great way to get up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas, certainly something I’m not likely to experience anywhere else. And I still want to go to the zoo, too. J


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Excellent Adventure Down Under

I’m Baaaaccckkkkk……
After 7 weeks in Sydney, we were able to squeak in a week-long trip back to Southern California. It was great to see our grandson and family, and our own bed felt really good. The week was packed with appointments, trying to get through 7 weeks’ worth of mail, dinners with friends and family, and household chores. Before we knew it, it was time to fly back. I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about coming back; not that I don’t love being here, but I am a homebody, and spring had sprung in SoCal so my yard was calling me. It’ll have to wait. Duty calls.

And so we are back. It actually felt really good coming in through the airport. As we were riding in the taxi to the hotel, I recognized various neighborhoods, landmarks, etc., and I realized that Sydney has become something of a second home. We know good places to eat, where to get our few groceries and things we need. We also have our same apartment, so it really is like being in our home away from home. We are no longer strangers here; just Americans living in Australia.

The hotel staff remembered us! Well, actually, after seeing our faces for 7 weeks, would they really forget? We had to wait a bit to move in; seems the people that were in the apartment were taking their time leaving. I can’t blame them; the view up here is spectacular. The weather is suddenly fall-like. Who knew there would be a noticeable difference in only a week? The air is crisper and cooler; and oh happy days! the SUN is out more than the clouds!
The summer crowds are gone; what a relief. I can go outside almost anytime during the day now and not be crushed by the crowds on the street or indundated with cigarette smoke. Smoking is still the predominant addiction I see here, but there is definitely less of it during the day. I still have to use my inhaler on a daily basis as I am very sensitive to it, but it's nice to get outside and not have an instant headache and asthma attack.

It’s also great to go into some of the restaurants we tag as our favorites and have the staff ask where we’ve been! It’s like being welcomed by old friends and I guess that’s where we are now in this whole adventure, making friends and seeing friendly faces.

Work still takes precedence over sightseeing. Monday through Friday, hubby leaves for his office by 7 a.m. and comes home around 6:30 p.m. He also works some in the evening and of course, there will be weekends where he will work from the apartment, but I am hopeful that we will get out more than we did the first trip here.

I still have tons of projects I am working on. I never lack for something to do. I’m even taking on some transcription work, so there’s money to be made by me as well! Transcription typically doesn’t make one rich, but I find it interesting, and it keeps my mind active.

I have lots of ideas for more blogs, too. I really appreciate those of you who take some time to read my thoughts and share my adventures. I promise more blogs with more pictures! This is such an interesting time in my life, and I enjoy sharing it! Who knew this girl from Texas would find such adventures?