Visit Australia’s local wildlife
When you visit the wonderful country of Australia, you have to go and see the local wildlife. Yes, you can go to pubs and clubs, but I’m talking about the ‘native’ animals, silly. Where’s one of the best places to see them in their natural habitat? Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria. Just a short drive from Melbourne, it’s the perfect day trip to mingle with all sorts of interesting species.
While you’re here, be sure to check out some of the fabulous Melbourne Wineries around the area; absolutely divine. But I digress, sorry.
The Sanctuary is exactly what the title implies – a huge 74 acre natural bushland haven, that is home to over 200 species of animals. It was first established in 1934 to care for and nurture Australian wildlife for people to appreciate and enjoy.
But be warned, there is plenty of bushwalking to do here, with meandering walk paths and trails. Patience and a keen eye are required to be able to spot the animals. It can be a bit like a game of hide’n’seek, with some animals making it hard for you to find them through the extensive vegetation.
The different enclosures are very well spread out with plenty of space for the inhabitants. Sometimes only a rope separates you from the animals. You can really get up close and personal with some of them.
I have been here more times than I can count and every time I head straight for my favourite locals, the koalas. Their adorable cute faces and fluffy fur make them probably the most popular attraction here, I’m guessing. Tourists just love them.
If you are really lucky, you can catch them when they’re NOT sleeping. Koala’s spend most of their time asleep, about 18 hours a day, and don’t do much exercise, other than eat a hell of a lot of Eucalyptus leaves, about 500 grams per day in fact. What a life! Apparently, the leaves are difficult for them to digest and therefore slow down their metabolism, making them sleepy. So why not eat something else, right? Who knows.
Echidnas are another very interesting Australian animal here at the Sanctuary. They are egg-laying mammals. Very unusual!
Do you want to know another very unusual fact? You may not believe this but I assure you I’ve done my research. The males have, wait for it … a 4-headed penis! What the f…? I hear you ask. I’ll just leave you to ponder that one.
This weird looking bird that can’t fly is the second tallest bird in the world. Some of them are almost 2 metres tall when upright. I’m not a fan of these animals, as I was bitten on the finger by one when I was little.
The male of the species has a nasty habit of becoming aggressive and scaring off his mate after she has laid her eggs. There are usually about a dozen eggs laid, green in colour. He then takes over all the incubating and raising of the chicks without her. Meanwhile, she goes off and finds someone else!
Kangaroos are fascinating creatures. They are bi-pedal like us, but can’t walk, as their hind legs are designed to move together. How extraordinary. They are the only large animals to have this method as their main form of locomotion. It’s not understood why they evolved this way.
Did you know the Red Kangaroo has been known to travel up to 70km per hour? Yep.
Furthermore, joeys are born the size of a jelly bean, after a nice short pregnancy of only 35 days, thank you very much. Then they continue to grow in the pouch until the mother kicks them out.
School lesson over.
Wait, there’s more …
- Make sure to catch the bird show, Spirits Of The Sky, featuring the Australian Raptor, called the Wedge-tailed Eagle, in action and other birds too, such as the Barking Owl. Yes, it actually barks, and it eats other smaller birds, can you believe it?
The show is very entertaining to watch as the well-rehearsed routines are performed, which demonstrate how smart the birds really are. They do however, come frighteningly close to your head. So watch out.
- In the reptile house you can visit some slippery, slimy creatures for those that like all things reptile. I’ll just wait outside, thanks.
- Nocturnal animals have their own exhibition too. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the total darkness in this facility.
- An interactive Platypus show is available where you can wade in the water and play with the animals, with a keeper assisting you of course.
- There’s also the Dingo, Wombat, Tasmanian Devil, Wallaby and loads more to spot (if you can) in their bushy home environments.
- Enjoy wandering around the native bushlands of this beautiful sanctuary. The walking paths are magnificent and provide plenty of shade amongst the trees. You can even play in the stream, have a picnic, purchase food, and shop in the gift shop.
Another amazing function of the Sanctuary is caring for ill and injured animals that have been rescued from the wild, in the Wildlife Health Centre here. You can actually visit and see what they do and meet the patients here. It also contributes to the breeding program of many species that are endangered.
This wonderful zoo is open everyday of the year.
Tip: Make sure to allow a few hours to enjoy everything Healesville Sanctuary has to offer.
A word of warning: Watch out for the Ibis. These weird looking birds are a little bit of a nuisance here, sticking their long beaks into everything including your lunch, if you’re not careful. Thus, the nicknames of bin chicken or tip turkey have been affectionately bestowed upon them. They are a native animal too and demand some attention, so they will stalk you at every turn!
Where to next? you ask.
Well after traipsing through the bush, you may like a change of scenery. So how about heading to the beach at Mornington Peninsula? Less than 1½ hours drive from here. Or you might like to visit the relaxing country town of Daylesford, less than 2 hours away.
Share your thoughts. Have you been to Healesville Sanctuary? Leave me a comment below.
Bye for now.