Day 62 - Talk With The AnimalsApril 11, 2017 in Australia
We're not in the same place for very long on the Australia leg of our trip so it was time to move on again from lovely Townsville and travel the 388km to Mackay, and really we're only heading to Mackay as a stopping point to our next proper stop of 1770. The town, we've not discovered the Sweat Box is actually a Delorean.
Before we left Townsville though we went to the Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary. Mainly because after all the signs warning us of Cassowaries and the disappointment of not seeing one in Daintree we wanted to set our eyes on the world's 3rd biggest flightless bird. It's a small sanctuary/zoo and only has animals that are native to Oz. The animals are here for a mix of reasons, some were born in captivity at other zoos, or rescued from injury or poaching and not fit to go back in the wild. We bought a bag of seed which you could feed the kangaroos and geese/ducks with. Boy were there a lot of ducks and geese and they were savvy. As soon as they saw the bag they'd waddle after you. I felt like the pigeon lady from Home Alone!
Then we found the kangaroos . They let them roam around the paths (under supervision) and you can hand feed them. Some of them had joeys in their pouches. They looked very uncomfortable with legs and arms sticking out akimbo but so cute, and I'm sure it works for them! We loved feeding them.
There were lots of shows on through the morning hosted by Peo, a friendly and knowledgable ranger who took all the kids interrupting comments and questions kindly and in his stride (like 'My Uncle's called Terry too!' after finding out a croc was called Terry). We started with the cassowaries. I'd never heard of them until I got here. They're huge! There's only around 1000 left in the wild which could became a huge problem as they're important in spreading seeds via their...erm...digestive process. One of the ones here was poached as a chick by locals as a pet but when it was fully grown they realised cassowaries are not really great pets and tried to sell it to a tourist who reported it. What were they thinking?? We got to feed them grapes by hand which was fun, they love grapes. Lots of the little kids ate the grapes though before they made it to the birds.
Next up was feeding the turtles. We fed them fish skins but their eye sight is poor you had to hold the fish by the tip away from their teeth as they just wildly bite towards it. It was very funny and very sweet. They'd tend to take a few goes and all try and jostle for the same one standing on each other's shells. Once one grabbed one it'd scuttle back to the water as fast as it could. I was far more into it than the kids and wanted to make sure they all got one.
We wandered around for a while after that checking out the koalas and crocodiles. There were a lot of warning signs next to the crocodiles cages about fingers through bars and dangling arms over the edges. I hope that's a precaution rather than learnt from a poor previous tourist. We also watched a mini show about Wombats starring Wanda who was rescued from the pouch when her poor mum was hit by a car. Final show for us was the reptiles. There were some huge snakes which Ranger Chris showed to us, and he told us how to treat snake bites which hopefully never becomes useful advice. We got the chance to hold some of the snakes and lizards. Now I'm terrified of many things as covered by this blog and beyond - deep water, falling down stairs, crossing busy roads, being trapped in a confined space etc. Matt on the other hand isn't scared of much but he is petrified of snakes and lizards so had to act as photographer. The ranger called him a 'sook' which roughly translates as a wuss much to my cruel amusement seeing as he's always nice about my fears. It's not often I'm the brave one but I love snakes and lizards so embraced holding both with gusto.
Sadly it was then time to leave and hit the road. The journey was fairly uneventful. Beautiful but nothing of too much note. We found out Macca's serve chips and gravy here which would be a nice addition to the UK menu but that was about it. We made it to our motel in Mackay where a no nonsense woman checked us in - I've not met many non-uber-friendly Aussies yet nor have I stayed in a motel so that was vaguely exciting. We headed over the road to a bar/hotel/restaurant/bookies/casino called Shamrock for a surprisingly good value and delicious steak and a few drinks but tiredness and the lure of actual air con kicked in and we headed back to the motel in prep for another long drive tomorrow.Read more