Friday afternoon I set out on my first driving adventure to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary just outside of Brisbane. The first few moments were a bit tense as I kept mistaking the turn signal for the windshield wipers. The locals probably knew to stay far away when they saw the wipers going full blast.
Lone Pine was founded in 1927 and is the world’s largest and oldest Koala sanctuary. It’s also one of the few sanctuaries in the world that allow you to hold a Koala for a fee. I picked a fantastic time to visit – no crowds make easy access to all of the animals! Koalas are quite the lazy little animal and most were soundly sleeping in precariously balanced positions. Did you know they’re one of the few mammals besides apes to have fingerprints? Great trivia!
The sanctuary has a field of free-roaming kangaroos and wallabies and offers kangaroo food for $2. Wallabies are the bit smaller, furrier brothers of kangaroos. They’re such an interesting, unique animal and you really wonder how on earth an animal ever became adapted to moving that way. They’re surprisingly fast and agile though and at one point I had a kangaroo hopping directly for me, eager for food. Luckily he stopped, because I didn’t really want to start an Australia story with, “Well, so I got run over by this kangaroo…”.
Also at the sanctuary was the animal I was most looking forward to seeing: the wombat. I don’t know why but I’ve been intrigued ever since seeing a photo. I mean, what in the world is it? The first time I walked past the wombat enclosures they were sleeping. The second time, yep, still asleep. So on my third pass heading out of the park one had finally woken up: a Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. He was much different looking than the wombats I’ve ever seen photos of and I could only describe him as a hairy sort of pig. Some great facts about wombats: they can run up to 25mph for short bursts and if chased by a predator, they run into their burrow and use their butt for protection. It’s made of tough, impenetrable cartilage. How about that? Wombat got back!
Lone Pine had lots of birds, several of Australia’s deadliest snakes, and a collection of various lizards and other reptiles. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours! So far I have yet to see anything deadly in the wild and thank goodness I haven’t seen a Huntsman Spider yet. As most anyone who knows me knows, I’m not so good with spiders. Knowing they’re relatively benign isn’t much comfort considering their size gets them confused for tarantulas. Ugh.
If you find yourself in Brisbane you must visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for an awesome wildlife experience. I mean c’mon, you can hold a koala!