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Animal Attraction : Kuranda Wildlife Experience

Despite the rain, we drove the Troopy over the Macalister Range and arrived in Kuranda village for a very special day with the local wildlife.  The Kuranda Wildlife Experience is the ultimate ticket for animal lovers and is a fantastic way to meet unique, beautiful and interesting animals from Australia and around the world!

 

Kuranda Koala Gardens

Our first stop was the Kuranda Koala Gardens, but don’t be fooled by the name – they have much more than just those cute, cuddly balls of sleeping fur.  They had a variety of turtles, bearded dragons, kangaroos, pythons, and even freshwater crocodiles!

 

 

The first highlight was watching the wombats – the fussy female was paired with her second potential mate, who was on heat that morning.  We had never heard such a strange hissing/growling noise come from a wombat before!  She was resisting all advances and as she scurried away, the male wombat was hot on her heels.  Later that day, we mentioned it to one of the keepers and she said that the female brings it upon herself, because she often tries to get his attention, and then runs away!  What a tease!

 

The wombats at Kuranda Koala Gardens from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

 

The second highlight was feeding the swamp wallabies.  These creatures were absolutely adorable and very friendly.  As you offer food, their little paws reach up and hold onto your hand.

 

 

The third highlight was visiting the new glider enclosure at feeding time.  There are two varieties on display, the squirrel glider and mahogany glider.  Both are just as cute as the other, but their feeding habits are a little different.  While squirrel gliders prefer to munch of fresh fruit and vegetables with only a little sip of nectar, mahogany gliders prefer their sweet cocktail over fruit and veg.  Another interesting fact that we learnt was that mahogany gliders were thought to be extinct for over 100 years and were only rediscovered in 1989.

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Just before moving on to the next experience, we decided to cuddle a koala and get a souvenir photo.  Alternatively, if koalas aren’t your thing, you can hold a snake instead, but with our fabulous reptile experiences in Alice Springs and Darwin, we thought the koala was the right choice… although he doesn’t seem to understand what ‘happier and with your mouth open’ means.

 

http://www.koalagardens.com/

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Birdworld Kuranda

All feelings of anticipation and excitement were replaced with angst and trepidation when we were shown the “stolen property” tub on the reception desk at Birdworld Kuranda.  It was full of bracelets, buttons, ear rings, Barmah Hat badges and anything else small and shiny that the birds can pry off you with their burly beaks.   Juz promptly de-accessorised…

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Once we walked through the door we were presented with an aviary large enough to house trees, a small waterfall and a pond.  We walked out onto a platform at the top of the aviary and were greeted with the pleasant aromas of tropical fruit that had been served to the birds for breakfast.  There were three colourful macaws perched nearby, as well as a couple of Alexandrine Parrots and Eclectus parrots having a morning meal.

 

As we did a lap of the aviary, we got to know the inhabitants – there was a small aviary full of little finches, huddles of green-cheeked conures, a white-faced heron in the trees, streaks of colour as rainbow lorikeets sped past, a few mandarin ducks and black swans in the pond, and even an intimidating cassowary.  Despite their danger factor, these huge birds are endangered due to being hit by cars and the destruction of their habitat.

 

 

Once we returned to the platform, the Alexandrine Parrots set their sights on our poor, defenceless pen.  With a big red beak, the parrot effortless cracked the shaft and deformed the push button, and we knew that if Dave let go of the pen, it would never survive.  At this point, Juz spotted a juvenile fig parrot sitting on the wire of the fence surrounding the platform and gave it a brief rub on the back of its neck before a sharp peck said it was time to go.

 

On our way out, we got to meet Cobbler the Cockatoo and then swung past the Troopy for a new pen before hitting up our next destination.

 

http://www.birdworldkuranda.com/

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Established in 1985, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary works to increase butterfly numbers by protecting the offspring.  In the wild, only 1 or 2% of eggs laid survive to adulthood while at the Sanctuary, their success rate is 60-80%.

 

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There are 8 species of butterfly in the aviary, as well as the Hercules moth – the world’s largest moth.  All of them are native rainforest species which is why the aviary has been designed to replicate their habitat.  With 1500 beautiful butterflies, including the iridescent blue Ulysses butterfly and the big Cairns Birdwing with its bright green and yellow colours, it was easy to stop and become mesmerised by the quiet fluttering of colour all around.

 

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There are several stations around the aviary that function as both a feeding platform and a place to lay eggs.  Each station has a few dishes that are filled with a special nectar formula and topped with a white lid to attract the butterflies.  They used to put honey in the dishes before they realised that the honey was fermenting in the heat and causing the butterflies to get drunk!  The stations also have particular plant clippings which act as hosts for the butterfly eggs.  Each butterfly has a particular plant they lay their eggs on to ensure the survival of their caterpillars, and having these particular plants at designated stations makes collecting the butterfly eggs much easier.

 

The eggs are taken to the laboratory where they are cared for until the caterpillar hatches, grows up and turns into a butterfly.  Depending on the species, the caterpillar munches for around 20-30 days before they transform into a chrysalis (cocoon) and stew for between 10 and 30 days, before a butterfly emerges and is released into the main aviary to live a short life that lasts between 10 days and a few months.  The more they flutter, the shorter they live – that’s why some of our photos are a bit blurry – butterflies don’t live long and have to get sh*t done!

 

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http://www.australianbutterflies.com/

 

 

Our Kuranda Wildlife Experience was absolutely magical.  We got to see a wide range of animals, from mammals and reptiles to insects and arachnids.  Each experience was interactive as we got up close and personal to koalas, wallabies, parrots and lacewing butterflies.  We even got to meet some fellow Melbournians – Rob and Belinda – who were visiting Cairns on holiday.

 

Tickets for the Kuranda Wildlife Experience are $46 dollars for adults, $23 for children.  They can be purchased from any of the three attractions.

 

 

Heartbreak Hotel

Eating Out : Heartbreak Hotel, Cape Crawford NT

Heartbreak Hotel

After spending the morning in Caranbirini National Park, we passed through Cape Crawford and realised we were famished!  It turned out that the only thing in Cape Crawford worth going to is the Heartbreak Hotel so we turned in for lunch.

 

The lunchtime menu was mainly a list of burgers and sandwiches ranging in price from around $10 to $18.  Juz went for the Heartbreak Burger while Dave chose a Steak Sanga with the lot – both were $18.

 

While we waited for our food vibrator thingy to tell us when our food was ready, we went into the bar for a beer.  Country music blared out of the jukebox as we played darts and when we realised we couldn’t be bothered adding up the scores, we read all the signs and stickers that were on display around the bar.

 

Our vibrator thingy didn’t even get the opportunity to buzz – one of the friendly staff brought our meals over and we took them outside to eat on the veranda.

 

 

Juz’s Heartbreak Burger was towered high with a massive beef patty, egg, bacon, beetroot, pineapple, caramelised onion and salad, and had a side of well-seasoned hot chips.  The burger hit the spot perfectly, and that juicy patty really set it off.   Dave got the Steak Sandwich and while it was also delicious, he had serious food envy for Juz’s burger.

 

As we ate, we realised we had company – a few Blue-faced Honeyeaters were loitering around our table.  They didn’t hesitate to come quite close to us so we set some bait to see how far they’d go for a crumb.

 

Heartbreak Hotel

 

Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park

Experience : Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park

Located about 20km south of Geraldton is a privately owned wildlife park with a variety of agendas.  While it provides a wonderful experience to all animal lovers, it is also a sanctuary for injured animals that have been rescued and rehabilitated, and a place to educate people and raise awareness about wildlife conservation.

 

Tin animals at the front of Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park

 

The Park

Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park has been around since the 1970s but it was handed over to Michelle and Jo in 2008.  Since then, they have made a lot of changes to the park to accommodate school groups and educational demonstrations about wildlife conservation and reptile awareness, as well as constructing new enclosures for the animals that live at the park.

 

 

Within the park is a gnome village, which is sure to delight, and the Easter Island heads add a kooky element to the landscape.  There is also has a picnic area with BBQ facilities and colourful playground, which is perfect if you want to celebrate your child’s birthday, and the gift shop has a variety of mementos to take home with you.

 

The Animals

All the animals in the park have been hand raised and have either lived there for a really long time or are new residents.  The oldest animal we saw was a cocky called Wacker who was born in 1945!

 

 

As we strolled around the park, we encountered crocodiles and pythons, sheep and goats, emus and an ostrich, parakeets and cockatoos, dingoes and kangaroos, and a flock of guinea fowl.  The kids loved the talking galah and feeding the kangaroos, and they were fascinated by the silver pheasant, sparrow hawk and the tawny frogmouth, that silently followed the kids as they moved around the cage.

 

The park also offers the opportunity to meet the animals and have your picture taken patting a dingo or cuddling a snake.

 

 

The Conservation

Michelle and Jo are deeply passionate about animal rescue and conservation and use the wildlife park as a sanctuary to rehabilitate rescued animals that have either been injured or abandoned.  They have an average of 10 animals a month that are brought in due to injury – snakes, lizards, echidnas and bats – they even get called out to assist with injured seals.

 

The most common animal that is brought in due to injury are kangaroos.  In most cases, the mother has been killed while crossing the road or shot while the joey is still in its pouch.  They rescue and raise over 25 joeys a year before they are released back into the wild.

 

Sadly, some animals cannot be released back into the wild and are deemed derelict.  In these cases, they need to be re-homed or euthanised, and this is where the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park steps in.  If the animal is of a young age and will not be stressed in a captive environment, then the park will take them in and give them the opportunity to live a fulfilling life in a safe environment.  The tawny frogmouth that we met in the park is a derelict juvenile and it looked quite at home in the park.

 

 

Birds that have been abandoned by their parents or have fallen out of the nest are also brought in so they can live the rest of their lives in safety. In the case of Priscilla the African Ostrich – she came from an ostrich farm that closed down and she probably wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for Michelle and Jo.

 

Michelle and Jo are also involved with the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program, an initiative based in Victoria that aims to create a database of DNA-tested dingoes for the purpose of breeding.  Dingoes are being hunted and have very little protection so it’s important that we do something to ensure that they don’t get wiped out like the Tasmanian Tiger.  They also support the Ochre Project, which aims to raise awareness about dingo preservation and ban the use of 1080 poison baits in Australia.

 

Michelle is also a licensed reptile remover and has been called to move many venomous snakes, including a 1.3 metre monitor lizard. Because the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park is an animal rescue refuge, if you find an injured animal, you can call 08 99261171 at any time.  If they are unable to take the animal in, they will help you with advice.

 

The Essentials

The Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park is located on Company Road in Greenough.  The Park is open every day from 10am -5pm, and is closed only two days of the year – Christmas Day and New Years Day.

 

 

Entry is at the great price of $9 for adults and $6 for kids, and a bag of feed for the animals is $1 each. Discounts for group bookings are available and callouts with the animals for special events can be arranged.  They also have a huge photo op board at the front of the park.

 

Phone: 08 9926 1171

Website: http://www.wildlifeandbirdpark.com.au/