My second day in Queensland I visited one of my new favourite places: the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, near Brisbane.
It was another spontaneous visit; I’d been looking at a map of Brisbane on my phone and the Sanctuary appeared as an attraction. I booked a ticket (in the time of COVID, you have to book ahead of your visit pretty much anywhere. Most places are open now but at limited capacity, and you have to book online first before you’re allowed in).
I got there early in the morning and a wombat passed me on the way in. Yes – a wombat. He was in a leash harness, with a tired-looking staff attached to the other end of the lead; apparently he’d been running all over the place that morning while she tried to keep up.
Two minutes later, I walked into a wild bird feeding. Wombats, lorikeets… I was pretty much in heaven, and that was even before I saw any koalas!
Rainbow Lorikeets (and one sneaky Brush Turkey) enjoying a feed:
The koalas were an absolute highlight. I saw three in the wild, down near Tocumwal; spotting wild koalas was thrilling, but the ones I saw were all very high up in the trees. Seeing them up close was a whole other story… they’re just so, so, ridiculously cute:
With 130 koalas, Lone Pine is the largest and also the oldest koala sanctuary in the world.
Koala cuddle train. How many can you see?
I spent about two hours wandering around and beaming at all of the koalas. Since the eucalyptus leaves they eat provide very little energy, koalas sleep for about 16-20 hours a day. The good thing about being in a place with so many was that at least a couple koalas were usually awake at any time:
I even got to pet a koala!! I heard that normally the line-ups to pet a koala are excessive; however, it was very quiet when I was there – I think in part because of COVID, and also just the time of day I visited. The line was only 1-4 people long at any time; I actually went through twice, to pet two different koalas (Strudel and Sergeant).
Their fur is incredibly thick and soft – they really feel like a stuffed animal.
So ridiculously cute:
Other highlights at the sanctuary included seeing several classic Australian species that you normally don’t get a chance to see in the wild (and that I have yet to see elsewhere).
I visited the wombat who had passed me on my way in, then sleeping soundly after his morning walk:
They looked like very clean dogs:
Frogmouth (this is a bird, one that I’ve really wanted to see, but unfortunately is a nocturnal species and somewhat hard to spot):
Tasmanian Devil (lounging very lazily in the sun):
And… perhaps the greatest highlight of all…. the duck billed platypus:
The picture is just from my phone (I couldn’t figure out how to get my camera to work in the platypus house). There were two platypus, with a very dark house; you stood in near-darkness and looked into their water enclosures. I was lucky enough to see them both swimming around at different times and snacking on crayfish in their tanks. They were smaller than I thought – I’ve always imagine them as being roughly the size of a beaver, but they were a lot smaller than that. They were the coolest, and strangest, creatures I’ve ever seen:
The sanctuary also had a kangaroo petting and feeding area. It was a large space that you could walk through and attempt to feed some of the roos and wallabies (there were sections where people weren’t allowed, so that the animals could find a break if they wanted one). The roos were lying around in the sun, looking very lazy:
Look at those muscles… these roos were massive. I kept my distance:
I had an absolutely fantastic day there. So far, Queensland was turning out to be a top-koality destination.