The Thrills of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
6 months ago, I spent three weeks in Brisbane, Australia. Brisbane is lovely. It is the capital of Queensland and, while not as populous as Sydney, is still home to more than 2 million. Brisbane has a rich and varied culture. There is plenty to see for students of the arts, fans of great food, and lovers of natural wonder. Plus, when I was there, the weather was fantastic. It really is a great place, a city I could imagine myself living in. But what did I actually take away from my time in Brisbane? What are my most cherished memories? THE KOALAS!
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary seems like it was built just for me. I journeyed to Australia knowing in the back of my mind that I would enjoy stroking one of these little brown/gray marsupials. But I had no idea how to get within arm’s reach of these grumpy-looking tree-dwellers. Luckily I thought to ask the driver who took me from the airport to my hotel (DriveNow hire car Brisbane) how I could find a way to get a closer peek at a koala. Without a second thought he told me that I MUST go to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. No sooner had I looked it up on my phone did I decide that this was indeed the place for me.(Image by Mel Green)
First of all, Lone Pine has been around since 1927. When it was founded, the keepers had only two koalas, Jack and Jill (adorable). Today, more than 200 koalas dot the trees at Lone Pine, the direct descendants of J and J, may they rest in peace. But that’s not all of the wildlife that you can see, smell, and touch on their magical grounds. Tasmanian devils, wombats, platypuses, and a number of animals I had never heard of as an American city-dweller. Echidnas? There are plenty of other mammals running around too, not to mention a great variety of bird with very Australian-sounding names: kookaburras and cassowaries. It seemed that everywhere I turned, some previously unheard of life-form was trotting, flapping, or sleeping in or across my path.
Back to the Koalas. I arrived early in the morning and was allowed to hold a young male named Mookie who sleepily clung to my hand. He was heavier than I thought and seemed rather bashful. I cuddled him for as long as the keeper would let me before she placed him back on his branch to drowsily munch a leaf. I was thrilled. To be able to squeeze (gently, mind you) and even sniff this amazing creature was an experience I will not soon forget. The other koalas I was satisfied to view from afar, having cuddled to my total satisfaction with Mookie.(Image by Mel Green)
The rest of the morning I saw plenty more koalas in their koala forest. Later I watched the Tasmanian devils have their feeding, which was both interesting and somewhat horrifying. I was glad to be on the other side of the fence, safely away from their hunger. The last thing I did was watch some of Lone Pine’s home-bred sheep dogs perform their daily show. These dogs were beautiful and intelligent. They seemed to really love their work and my heart warmed to them.
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Feature image by Mel Green