Early in the trip Tessa mentioned that she wanted to hold a koala. So yesterday we headed out of Sydney to visit Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park.
We set out early, and frankly most of us were not in the best mood. The kids were tired and cranky from the early wake up, and I had a migraine simmering. Mark was his usual level-headed self, as always. But the rest of us were pretty crunchy, and an hour in Sydney traffic only added to the discontent.
Then we stepped into the park with our ice cream cones of kangaroo food, and I swear I saw the grey cloud over all of us lift. The first wallaby I saw carried a joey her pouch and I actually felt my heart swell 100 times.
After feeding wallabies we headed over for our koala personal encounter. While we didn’t actually hold the koala, we petted her and had a few minutes to watch her up close and just marvel.
She’s soft just like a teddy bear, Tessa said.
After the koala we fed kangaroos, then wandered and checked out the collection of echidnas, cassowaries, emus, Tasmanian devils, dingos, penguins, and tons of birds and other small critters.
Honestly I was not exactly thrilled to visit prior to our arrival. Zoos usually make me feel really sad for the animals. But somehow this place seemed, well—magical. The park is relatively small but nicely laid out with lots of shade for the visitors, and the animals’ enclosures looked well maintained. The animals were all alert and lively.
The emus in particular made us laugh, since we just learned about Australia’s Great Emu War of 1932. In short: 20,000 emus were devastating the wheat fields in Western Australia, so the government sent in the army to battle the emus. And the emus won, with the army calling off the fight after one month.
No wonder the emus won, Tessa said. These things are terrifying.
I thought that our pure joy from the visit stemmed from the novelty of Australian animals for us Americans. The rest of the park visitors all sounded Australian, and they all got just as excited as we did (“Look kids, it’s an echidna!!”).
After our amazing visit at the Park, we piled back in the car and drove another hour west, to the Blue Mountains. We spent a few hours hiking around and marveling at the sites.
We checked in to our rental in Katoomba, then set out in search of dinner. After wandering through an alley of street art, we landed at a sushi joint on the Main Street.
We had the luck to sit next to The Backroom Boys, four locals who come so often that their photo graces the wall. We spent our dinner chatting across tables, sharing wine, answering their questions, and enjoying their local knowledge and advice.
Unfortunately the rest of our trip looks pretty rainy. We enjoyed spectacular sunny weather the first few days, but the rain rolls in this afternoon and persists through the week. So our activities will shift indoors to museums, shopping, movies. Though we are hoping for a dryish afternoon to book a Sydney Bridge climb. Fingers crossed!