Friday, February 17, 2006 - Healesville
Wildlife Sanctuary and Black Spur Drive
Tom and I reluctantly crawled out of bed
around 10:00 a.m. Dean had already picked up
his lovely daughter Grace, and the five of us
were off to the Healesville Wildlife
Sanctuary. The combined effects of travel
fatigue, bourbon, and sleep deprivation had
left Tom and me ragged, but we were
determined to enjoy the hot summer day and
bizarre native fauna.
Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary has 200
species of Australian animals living in a
beautiful bushland environment and is
conveniently located relatively close to
Lilydale. Once there, we went directly to the
Birds of Prey flight show. For some reason,
the wedge-tailed eagle wasn't participating,
but we caught it at the end of another show
later. The rest of the exhibition was good
even without the eagle, but the eagle is
fantastic. It's enormous.
Another highlight of Healesville is the
platypusary (great word). The platypus is an
odd creature. We listened to the Meet the
Keeper presentation before viewing the
animals. The platypus is a venomous,
nocturnal, semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal
with a wide, flat tail, webbed feet, and a
snout resembling a duck's bill. Tom dubbed it
the poisonous beaver-duckfish. Since the
lights were dimmed and the platypuses were in
the water, my photos didn't turn out, but I
feel privileged just to have seen them.
Tom at the platypusary
The Tasmanian devils were surprisingly
large and inactive. I expected to see them
running around and spinning up little dust
devils like in Bugs Bunny, but no, they were
sleeping. I think they're nocturnal, too.
They must spin the dust devils at night.
We went into the petting zoo and petted
the wallabies. One of the larger ones came
bounding out of the bush (with Dean's
prodding) and almost gave me a heart attack.
A little wallaby liked the way we tasted and
gave us all a lick. It seemed to think Grace
tasted best of all!
Grace, Catherine, and Dean
The echidna is another odd Australian
creature. A beaked, egg-laying mammal, it
somewhat resembles a hedgehog. We saw one two
days later at Macs Cove crossing a road, a
very rare occurrence to see them in the
The bird habitat was very nice, too.
Australia has a lot of very colorful birds,
and at least one of the birds we saw here,
the rosella, I saw later in the wild. The
kookaburra, a bird emblematic of Australia,
we heard later at Macs Cove. They have a very
noisy call that sounds like a pack of
The last animal we viewed at Healesville
was the dingo, the wild dog of Australia. I
was absolutely delighted when an Aussie lady
walked up while I was standing there and said
"A dingo ate your baby."
Maybe a dingo ate your baby
From Healesville we took the Black Spur
Drive from the Yarra Valley, winding up the
Great Dividing Range through a magnificent
forest of immense mountain ash, with a lush
understory of great green ferns. At the top,
the five of us had a nice picnic, and on the
way down we stopped to admire the superbly
scenic Maroondah Reservoir.
Picknicking along the Black Spur Drive
On our way back to the city we visited
Catherine's uncle and aunt, a lovely,
interesting couple who have a wonderful place
in the native bush. Tom and I hardly
recognized a single species of tree. It was
fabulous! There were lots of colorful rosella
birds about. Grace had fun playing with the
dogs and the other kids.
It was time to drop Grace back at her
mom's, then we returned home. We had a great
day, and we were all beat, but no rest for
the wicked, as my mother used to say. Soon
Dean's work mate Mick joined us for a "tea"
of sausages and lamb chops on the barbie.
Mick is a great bloke, a real Australian's
Australian, and he entertained us for hours
with hilarious and fascinating stories of his
holidays in Thailand. We definitely have to
go there sometime. By midnight, though, we
were about to collapse from exhaustion and
had to call it a night.
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