Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Sunday, December 4, 2005

Saturday was in 32 degrees hot! It was definitely shorts weather, and I spent the morning mooching around town, getting a respite from the heat when I went to the library for an hour. I'd arranged to meet Donna outside the Visitor's Centre at 2pm, although I didn't recognise her at first as she was wearing a black cap and dark glasses! Our first job was to buy our tickets for our visit to Steve Irwin's Zoo, and thanks to a friendly girl at the Centre we got sorted out pretty quickly.

I appreciate that my oldest brother might get a bit jealous reading this next part, but I have to give a true account of what I've been up to. Are you ready? OK...I went to a Kylie Minogue Exhibition! It was Donna's idea (honestly) and more importantly, it was free! We wandered around looking at the Awards she's won and the dresses she's worn (including the 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' one), and I even admitted owning her debut album on tape at one point! It turns out that Donna was more of a Jason Donovan fan, but there's no accounting for taste I suppose...

We followed this highlight with a wander around the South Bank area of the city, browsing around a market and glimpsing the crowds at the artificial beach. We stopped for a welcome smoothie at one of the cafes, before crossing the bridge to get back to the city centre. As we walked through the Botanic Gardens, Donna insisted that you could do a Bridge Climb here, but I was unconvinced as the views weren't as attractive as I imagine Sydney's to be. I think someone had been having her on!

We'd eaten at McDonalds too many times in the previous couple of days, so we decided to be healthy for a change...and headed to KFC! It was an improvement, although they included mayonaise on my PLAIN burger!

This 'getting dark early' lark was making my feet ache, as once again I walked Donna home, this time to the YHA. She invited me in for a, erm, water, and we sat and chatted for a while. I wasn't too late in walking back to 'Brisbane's Best Backpackers 2005' as the bus was picking us up early the next morning.

I woke up at 7.30am as I'd arranged to ring my non-Kylie-loving brother, but the hostel's phone wasn't working. So I walked to the nearest phone booth, but a Japanese girl was actually sat down in it, suggesting she'd be on a while. I ended up almost in the city centre, by which time I was sweating cobs even though it was so early! Anyway, whinge over, and I managed to get back on time as the 'Croc Connections' minibus pulled up at 9am. Donna had been picked up at 8.30am, and had saved me a seat on an otherwise full bus.

The bus journey was entertaining, as the driver played us a dvd of Steve Irwin's Life Story. He is sometimes mocked for his over the top enthusiasm, but watching that made me realise just how committed he is to conservation. He is an impressive character, spending large chunks of his life in the bush catching crocodiles, mostly on his own. My favourite part was when one such croc, Agro, bit his foot and in fact could have killed him as he'd got complacent. Steve just got to his feet, looked at Agro, and said "Thanks a lot!"

Once inside the zoo, we watched the elephants being fed, and saw a 175 year old tortoise. These aren't the most entertaining animals in the world, so after a few seconds we headed over to the koalas. These were much more entertaining, as a few of them were awake, and therefore more active than I'd ever seen them before. I was tempted to pay for a photo of me cuddling one, but it would have taken too long to queue up and we didn't have that much time.

At 11am, we headed over to the was show time! A guy brought out a lot of deadly snakes, then there was a tiger show which involved a couple of hairy moments for the keepers! Then there was a very impressive free flight bird show, with the birds flying high above our heads. it was fascinating how the keepers made hand signals and the birds would duely return, picking them out from the other side of the stadium.

Finally, the one everyone had been waiting for...the crocodile show. We watched as 'Graham' sneeked up ever so slowly on the keeper, then jumped up to grab the food with an awesome snap of the jaws. I was pleased to be behind the fence at this stage! They are amazing predators, and have barely changed in the last 60 million years because they are so well adapted to their environment.

We had a bite to eat after the shows, before venturing out again on what was one of the hottest days I've ever experienced. Our favourite part of the zoo turned out to be 'Kangaroo Heaven,' as unlike with the crocodiles (thankfully), you could wander around and touch the incredibly tame 'roos. There were dozens and dozens of them, and not one of them flinched as you approached them to give them a stroke. They are the coolest, most laid back animals on the planet I think, and it was great interacting with them.

Wandering around, we saw various reptiles in the middle of the paths, apparently commonplace around here. We also saw emus, otters and more koalas as we walked towards the Tiger Temple. There was lots to see, and in a couple of years the zoo will be 3 times as big, making it one of the best zoos in the world, possibly the best.

Unfortunately time was running out for us, so we headed back towards the main entrance. We saw an absolutely huge bird of prey at one point, sat upright on a branch. It must have been over a metre long, and it looked almost pre-historic to me. The bird aviary was less dramatic, although we saw lots of colourful birds and Donna enjoyed walking through the water sprays to cool off - she was wearing trousers!

We'd just about seen everything by the time we boarded the bus again at 3.30pm, although we'd only just managed it. After a brief stop at a shop selling fresh fruit (we got some pineapples), we relaxed and watched another dvd, this time involving all of Steve's mishaps over the years. He's had a few scrapes, and there were plenty of "crikeys," particularly when a cheeky snake bit him on the nose!

Donna got off at Bunk Backpackers with me and I gave her a quick tour, before we walked into town for something to eat. This time we actually went to a restaurant on Queen Street as it was my last night, and we were feeling frivelous. It was nice relaxing together and chatting, and afterwards I started feeling a bit Christmassy for the first time as the decorations lit up the city centre. It makes a change being warm in December!

I was looking forward to going 'home' to New Zealand, but it was sad saying goodbye to Donna. I'm not sure when I'll see her again as she will be returning to the South Island late January, whereas I'll be on the North Island then. Regardless, it had been nice seeing a familiar face, and we'll definitely keep in touch.

As I set my alarm for 4.30am, I felt content with what I'd done on my brief visit to Australia. I could now look forward to my last 12 days on the South Island, before I fly up to Mount Maunganui on the 18th December...
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will on

i to miss him very much
all my love will dumfries

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