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Posts Tagged ‘Kangaroos’

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It’s hard to believe, but I have been living in Australia for a little over 2 years now. Where has all the time gone? It has taken some work, but I do believe I am finally getting the hang of living here.

Father knows best

In my opinion , Oz is a lot like America in the 1950’s, only tech savvy.  It’s a much slower pace most of the time, everyone is very friendly, and you can take most people at their word. The Aussie motto is “No worries Mate”, and they mean it. When I first got here, even though it is a different country, for me there was only a little culture shock.  Thanks to the fact that Australia is an English-speaking country (for the most part) and the fact that we get a lot of American TV here, Oz is a lot like the States.  Most Aussies could understand me, I just had to work on understanding what they were saying. Besides the Aussie accent, they do have their own lingo here that was rather confusing to me, until Gene, my own private personal interpreter, would translate.

Denero

The first time I heard that a man was “nursing” a child, I thought for sure Aussie men were very different from regular men.  I wanted to see this special male breastfeed a baby.  As it turned out, in Oz, to be “nursing” someone means you are taking care of them.

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baby

Since we are on the topic of babies, a nappy is a diaper, not a short amount of sleep, and asking a baby about his/her dummy is not a question about their intellect, but instead a discussion about their pacifier.

parramatta club

If we are going to a hotel, in most cases that means we are going to a pub to drink, but it can also mean a place we could get a room for the night.  A “club” is not only for dancing, like it is in the States, but instead it is the Aussie version of a VFW hall, only a whole lot better.

slot machine

They always have a café, and most have “poker machines”, or “pokies”, which are what Americans call slot machines. I am not really a fan of these clubs, but Gene really loves them. You can get a really cheap meal, but in my opinion, all the food in all the clubs are all the same.

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Since my move here, we have had only one visitor from the States, and that was my BFF Mary, from Detroit.  In her infinite wisdom, she summed up Oz in one word.  Adequate. This is the perfect word to describe Australia.  I am not saying that being adequate is a bad thing.  Aussies get just what they need, and usually no more.  That is one reason we go food shopping 3 to 4 times a week. Why buy extra when you can make another trip to the store and get it fresh?

Unit sweet Unit

Unit sweet Unit

A lot of things are much smaller than I was used to.  Take housing.  This is a photo of our “unit”, or townhouse. There are a lot of “units” (or apartments, condos, or townhouses) everywhere, and they keep building more.  There are single family homes, but the majority of them are what we in America would call small.  Like us, it is very common to have only a one car garage, (not a 1 ½ car) even if you are a two car family.  I just want to know where they keep all their stuff.  One of Gene’s sisters’ lives in what I call an “American” house. For Aussie standards, it is large, with big front and back yards. I say it is just about right.

macca's sign

Their serving size are also much smaller here.  A large drink at “Macca’s” (pronounced mack-ers) would be considered a small in America.

Roundabout

I had to get use to everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, and all the roundabouts.  It is very strange to sit in the front seat of a car on the left side, and not have a steering wheel in front of me.  I have driven a little here, and I am not a fan of how narrow most of the lanes are. Again, the adequate thing. I keep saying I just need to get out there and practice, but for once in my life, I am enjoying having my own personal chauffeur. I just can’t get Gene to wear the little hat that goes with the uniform.

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When I’m asked what I miss most about the US, my first answer is always Taco Bell. Yeah, I know.  It should be family and friends, which I do miss, but I also miss the fact that I can’t just go through the drive thru any time of the day or night to get one of my favorite foods.  I have reserved myself to the fact that Oz is not a place for Mexican food, so I make it at home when I get a craving to make a run for the border.  I do Skype with my family and friends, so in some cases, I talk to them more now than I did when I lived there.

tomato sauce

 

Oz tom sauce

Another thing I miss is being able to find certain things in the stores.  One example is tomato sauce.  To an Aussie, tomato sauce is ketchup, and American tomato sauce does not exist in Oz. To compromise, I’ve learned to substitute tomato puree instead.

I also miss the fact that not every store gives you a bag for your purchases.

powerpoint

One thing that I will never understand, is their electrical outlets, or what they call power points.  For some reason they turn off the power points when they are not in use.  I am assuming that Aussies think the power may leak out when they are not looking, so they turn them off.

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They have wonderful tea shops that I frequent quite a bit, and my tea collection has grown to 60+ teas.  Aussies still look at me funny when I tell them my drink of choice is Ice tea, but I am hopeful that one day they will realize that they there are other ways to have your tea besides white (with milk) or  black (no milk).

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Cockie & bridge

 

I also love the fact that there are beautiful animals here.  There are all kinds of birds all over the place, and my favorites are the rainbow lorikeets, and the cockatoos.

All dressed up for that night out!

All dressed up for that night out!

I also love the fact that fairy penguins also call Oz home.  They are the closest thing to a munchkin here, so they fit right in.

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One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to some of the wildlife parks, and have lunch with some of my truly Aussie friends.  That’s something I never got to do in America.

winter car

Some things I don’t miss are having to be at work, and bad weather. Sydney has pretty mild weather, and never gets snow, so that makes me a VERY happy camper.  When I moved here, I was thrown into an early retirement, because I was not allowed to work.

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Now I spend my days doing what I want to do, and not what a boss thinks I should do.  I like this way much better. Here’s a photo of me and the girls at one of the knitting groups I belong to.

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ferry

Nice weather makes taking public transport not seem like a bad thing.  Instead of driving a car, I do take the buses and ferries to get where I’m going, and I also do my fair share of walking. I guess now that I have the time, I don’t mind leaving the car at home.  That would have never happened back in the States.  That, or living in a house without a heating system.  Even when I lived in Las Vegas, smack dab in the middle of a desert, we had a furnace, and we used it.  Here, we don’t have one…  Yet.

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I gave Gene one winter to see if I could handle it being cold in the house, and the answer is no.  So to put off getting a heating system this year, Gene is taking me on trips while it’s winter here. I must admit I like his way of thinking.

I have gotten use to this lifestyle, and I will be the first to admit, I am really enjoying it here.  It is a slower pace, everyone is laid back, and it is a very peaceful place to live.  I do miss America at times, but that’s what the airlines are for. For now I plan on staying here as long as possible, and enjoying my new life.  Gene and I do love to have visitors use our guest room, so if you are so inclined, feel free to plan a trip down under. We would love to show you around all the places that are on my “What to show visitors” list.  And if you’re lucky, my truly Aussie friends or our munchkins will fit you into their busy schedules.

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No worries Mate

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Winter Scenery (26)

I was born and raised in Michigan, which means that the beginning of the year means cold weather. By January we would be well into winter and all she could throw at us, be it snow, cold weather, or ice storms.

snow plow

I always loved it when the snowplows would come by to clean off the roads right after you finished shoveling your driveway just to have the plows fill it up again.

winter car

Most of the time it didn’t really matter anyway, because after all that shoveling, you would soon discover that your car wouldn’t start.  Even a car doesn’t want to get out of bed to drive around in below freezing temperatures before the sun comes up. Yes, these are some of the thoughts that come to my mind when I hear the word January.

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Now that I am living in Oz, January is smack dab in the middle of summer. I will admit that I am still getting adjusted to it being warm this time of year, and it feels like half the year is gone already.

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Sydney enjoys a temperate climate with a mild winter, and has more than 340 sunny days a year. Average temperatures in the winter months of June through to August are between 48° F (9° C) and 62.5° F (17° C).  In the summer months, December, January, and February, the average summer temperatures are between 65° F (18° C) and 78°F (26°C).  So, like everyone else in Sydney, we just enjoy the weather.  Usually.

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This year though, on Friday, January 18th, we made history.  Seems that Mother Nature must be getting a little old, and getting a touch of forgetfulness. I am guessing that she decided to either mess with the thermostat, or do some baking here in Oz.   Either way, the temperature soared up to 114.5° F (45.8° C). The previous record of 113.F (45.3C) was set way back on January 14, 1939.

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Even though I experienced Las Vegas’ over 100° temperatures for over 3 years, I hadn’t had the joy of adding 70% humidity to go along with them.  The newsreaders here (That would be newscasters in American) did one story on how it took an ice block (Popsicle in the US) only 6.5 minutes to melt.

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It took the ice cream truck only 20 minutes.

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Most of the trains were delayed by at least an hour with overhead wiring and signal problems failing to cope with the extreme heat. Some parts of the track even buckled because of the heat, and were unusable. I really didn’t believe that one until I saw the photos.

crowed beach

Most Aussies (like Gene and I) don’t have air conditioning at home, so we do what we can to keep cool.  A whole lot of over heated Aussies went to the beach.

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Gene and I opted for the mall, and made a day of it. Gene was thrilled because he got to eat at his favorite venue, the food court.

 bulldog in ice

Animals are not allowed at either the beach or the mall, so they had to come up with other ways to cool down. Nothing better than an ice bath to beat those dog days of summer.

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Not everyone can say they have an indoor swimming pool for their cat.

 dog in tub

It’s always nice to enjoy a dip with friends.

 lion & Ice block

Our friends at the zoo kept cool too.  This lioness is enjoying a Popsicle made especially for her.  I wonder if it’s zebra flavored.

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You would think that they would give him the banana-flavored iceblock.

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Now this is one way to really cool off.

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Too bad she doesn’t do competitive swimming.  With a neck like that, she would be head and shoulders above  the other swimmers.

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Nothing like your own private pool.

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Even out in the wild, the roos know how to cool down.

In the late afternoon, severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, but no rain came by us.  In the early evening, there were wind gusts of up to 65mph (104km/h) that swept through the city, as temperatures dropped by about 10 degrees in 10 minutes. Because of the wind, there was a lot of falling trees and roof damage. Then by 10 pm, Sydney was at a comfortable 73°F (23°C), and the severe thunderstorm warning were canceled.

Yes, Sydney does get some hot weather, but so does everywhere else in the world.  I like the fact that it may be really hot one day, but will cool down the next.  We don’t’ get snow, so I don’t have to shovel anything, or scrape ice off my windscreen (that’s Aussie for windshield).  On the really hot days, I’ll just sit back, in the shade, eating an ice block.  That is of course if the truck hasn’t melted.

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christmas-koala-bear

Well it’s that time of year again.  Most of the world is all white with snow, Jack Frost is busy painting the scenery and nipping noses, icicles sparkle in the sunlight, and kids are trying to get their halos as straight as possible before the big guy makes his deliveries. Yes, it’s Christmas time.

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Being born and bred in the northern hemisphere, I am quite used to living in the cold and having to wear tons of layers of clothes just to go out to get the mail.

My beautiful picture

This is an actual photo of one of Christmases we would have in the States. Huge fully decked out tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care, garland all over the place, and the scent of Christmas cookies in the air.

xmas house

Many Americans would decorate their homes both inside and out, with some making sure Santa couldn’t miss theirs even if he tried.

My beautiful picture

If you were good all year, Santa might even pay you an early visit just to make sure you were getting your daily intake of candy canes. (For those of you old enough to remember, that’s my dad under that big mass of cotton of a beard)

Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I have learned that you need to go with the flow, and accept change.  Seeing how it is summer here in this part of the world, things are done a little differently than what I’m used to.

1 horse open sleigh

You won’t see any number of horses  pulling any sleighs of any kind, be they open or not, because there is no snow. Yes, look all you want, but the only flakes you will find here are in your cereal bowl.

xmas beach

The schools do have a break at this time of the year, so a lot of families go over the river and through the burbs to swim at the wonderful beaches we have here.

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As you can see, Gene and I got all decked out in our Christmas finery to celebrate the season.

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I am finding that it makes the holidays much less stressful by letting a lot of things slide. I no longer live in a house that even elves look at with awe. This is a photo of all of our holiday decorations.  That’s it.  One 7” red sparkle tree.  I love it because it’s all ready decorated, and for the second year in a row, no needles to sweep up.  It takes me a grand total of about 30 seconds to have our home totally decorated for the holidays.

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When I get in the mood to see some holiday decorations, I just head out the malls like everyone else.

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There are all sorts of wonderful holiday things to see.  All you have to do is just look around.

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They have them outdoors.

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And indoors of course.

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Each shop showing its holiday spirit.

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Don’t forget to look up!

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See, Gene and I are not the only ones that don’t have a tree that drops it’s needles.

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One of the big draws to the CBD (that would be downtown in American) are the window displays.  They are beautiful!

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They reminded me of the shop windows when I was a kid.

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I would love looking at them, and I can see the kids in Oz love it too.

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One thing that REALLY impresses me is they still say “Merry Christmas” instead of happy holidays. They even have the manger scene where everyone could see it.  It’s a nice change. One of the best parts is that you can see all this without having to wear a heavy coat or boots.

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The family Christmas get together in Oz are pretty much the same as in America, but with a little Aussie twist. At each place setting, they have what is known as Christmas crackers. You pull on each end, and they make a popping or cracking noise, and inside are some goodies.  They all have a paper crown that everyone wears during dinner, a toy, some sweets (read that chocolate), and a sheet with some jokes on it. We got a little picture frame, and a very small deck of playing cards in ours this year.

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Since it is so hot this time of year, a lot of families have a Christmas BBQ.  Turkey or ham is common as the main part of the dinner, but seafood is big here, so you are sure to find it on most Aussie holiday tables.

oysters

It seems that most Aussies like oysters, even the kids.   I can (and do) live without them.

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Some families will even have prawns, (shrimp in American) for dinner.  Seems the only problem is finding plates and silverware that are small enough. This gives sitting at the little table a whole new meaning.

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If they serve prawns as part of the meal, they usually are served cold, with their heads still on.  I personally don’t like their beady little eyes looking at me, so Gene, being the gentleman that he is, is the one that will behead them for me.  Other than that, they are always really tasty.

Nutella-pudding

Since Oz is part of the British Commonwealth, there are some things here that are very British.  One is pudding. The first time someone offered me some, I was expecting a nice smooth, creamy bowl of yum that I was use to. I was in for a blast of Aussie reality.

plum pudding

What I got was a plate of what is known as Christmas pudding.  In my American eyes, it was not a pudding in any way, shape or form.  It was a slice of cake like substance, under a cream-colored sauce, that was the consistency of yogurt.  It tasted like it was a type of moist fruitcake, and the sauce was very rich, creamy, and sweet, which was a wonderful contrast to the cake. As it turned out, this was a plum pudding with a custard sauce, which is a very traditional dessert for the holiday.  Now I have a better understanding of what everyone was eating in all the old classic English Christmas stories.  Unlike the fruitcake we have in America, I noticed that most of the Aussie diners would ask for this fruitcake willingly, and they would eat it, instead of using it for a doorstop like we do in America.

All in all, I must say I do enjoy an Aussie Christmas.  Where else can you eat Christmas dinner in shorts and flip-flops, spend some time at the beach, and open your presents from Santa all in the same day?  I don’t miss the snow at all, and it was nice to see everything in bloom all around the city.  I guess the only thing I’m going to miss is my yearly gift of a new doorstop, but I can live with that.

Merry Christmas Mate, and God bless us, every one!

kanga christmas

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It’s the holiday season again.  Today is the fourth Thursday in November, so I guess that means it’s Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s turkey day!  A day for the big parades, getting up early to start cooking the feast, watching football on TV, eating way too much, and then falling asleep on the couch because of the tryptophan in the turkey.

The only problem is I’m not in America.  I am in Oz.  Aussies don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day, so today was just another ordinary Thursday.  No fanfare, no kick off of the Christmas season, no family get-togethers. Just plain ol’ Thursday.

I decided that just because it is not a national holiday here, that does not mean that I can’t make my own feast just for Gene and I.  So, off we went to the mall to get all the ingredients I would need to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

As I walked into Coles, our regular grocery store, I had visions of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie just waiting to come home with me to grace our faux holiday table. But, all I found was a reality check.

Seeing how it is now the end of November, here in Oz, we are at the tail end of spring, with December 1st being the first day of summer.  Since it is so warm this time of year, there is not a large selection of what we in the north call “cold weather” food. This is not oven roasting season, so in short, there was not a whole turkey to be found. We did find some turkey breasts, but they cost as much as a whole turkey.  I figured that since I was in Oz, the Thanksgiving Day police would never find me, so I would just have to forget the turkey, and make a substitution.

My first thought was chicken.  I could just pretend that it was a really small turkey, and all the side dishes were just really big.  They even sell fully roasted stuffed chickens, all set and ready to eat. The only problem was that we had just had chicken the night before, and we have chicken a lot.  Besides, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a special meal, with special foods. So I stood there and tried to think of what I could cook that would make it a special dinner.

Finally it came to me.  I am in Australia, the land down under.  What does Australia have that no other country has?  Kangaroos. I checked the meat counter, and sure enough, there was roo meat.

Kangaroo meat is high in protein and with only about 2% fat, and is considered a very lean meat. There are various cuts of kangaroo, including fillets, minced meat (hamburger) and ‘kanga bangas’ , which are kangaroo sausages.

You can also buy steaks, and just hope that they don’t hop away before you can cook them.

I have had kangaroo meat before, and like it.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  “How can you eat something so cute?”

My response is; turkeys are cute too.  Some of them even have great senses of humor. Most people have no problem sinking their teeth into a big juicy turkey leg or breast, so don’t judge, and keep an open mind.

Gene on the other hand, is not a fan of having kangaroo for dinner, either to have them come over to share a meal, or being the main course.  So when I informed Gene that I would be making roo for Thanksgiving dinner, all he had to say was “Oh, so you’re going to cook dog food?”  Apparently, this is a very Aussie response to this kind of news, because they do use some of the lesser cuts to make dog food.  Seeing how I was buying the top grade of roo meat, I let his remark slide.  To keep the peace, I got him some BBQ pork ribs, and I picked out some herb & garlic kangaroo kebabs for me.

Even though I live in Oz, we don’t own a barbie that I could cook our dinner on, so I used what Aussies call a grill.  In America, we call it a broiler.

Even though it was only the two of us, we had plenty to eat, and even had leftovers.   Aussies would never think of using pumpkin in any kind of sweet, and I did not want to make a whole pie from scratch, so we didn’t have any dessert.

Even though it was not a traditional Thanksgiving meal, we really enjoyed it. Australia doesn’t have a holiday that is the equivalent of this American holiday, so I guess it will be up to me to keep the tradition alive.   I don’t think I’ll have any problem coming up with a menu for the warm weather, but I’m guessing convincing all these Aussies to put pumpkin in a  pie is where I’m going to run into problems.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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One thing you can say about Aussies is that when they have something no other country has, they will make sure the rest of the world can experience it up close and personal. They have some animals that are only found here, so they make sure the general public can see them.  I am of course talking about kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Even though you might go to see these original Aussies, there are many different animals to discover.  Like larger cities in the  US,  Sydney has a regular zoo right in town.  It’s the  Taronga zoo, and it has everything you might expect in a zoo.

They have mountain goats

Assorted reptiles, with some being quite small,

And others being quite large.

Koalas, the king of cuddles,

Gentle giraffes,

 

And of course, everyone’s favorite, kangaroos. Kangaroos are bigger than wallabies (which look like small kangaroos), and from what I’ve heard, you don’t want to get too close to a full size roo. They can really take care of themselves, and would have no problem winning in a street fight.

They will want to check you out, but since there is a fence between you and them, it’s ok to stare right back at them.

It’s a very nice zoo, but one thing that puts this zoo on the map is the great view it has of Sydney. Where else can you see roos, koalas, the Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge all in the same place?

The zoo is very nice, but if you really want to get up close and personal with the animals, you need to go to one of the wildlife parks that are in the area.  There is one in Darling Harbour called “Wild Life Sydney.”  They say it’s “The Australian animal adventure in the heart of the city.”  Seeing how I had never been to this animal adventure before, when Mary, my best friend,  was here visiting, I decided to take her there.  It is right on the harbour, and I was not expecting to be impressed at all.  Boy, was I wrong.  Once you go through those doors, you would swear that you were nowhere near the middle of Sydney. Most of the time you are indoors, looking at the animals that are in outdoor areas. It also has different areas like the rain forest, desert, and outback.

They had a butterfly house that you could go into, and many of them would put on a show, and some brave ones would even land on you. This was one section

where  everyone,even kids were very quiet.

Naturally, they had koalas.

They have a HUGE crock, but he didn’t seem to care about the crowds one bit.

There were all kinds of birds all over the place, and most of them were flying free.

Some were  walking  around right where we were walking.

Some even look at you the way you look at them.

Now of course they had some really huge birds, but they were behind glass, and for very good reason…

They have a cassowary, which is the world’s most dangerous bird. It is the 3rd largest bird in the world, but can, and will attack and kill at a moment’s notice.

I don’t know what this little wallaby did, but he was in the same area as the cassowary, and he doesn’t look too thrilled to be there.

Even though the cassowary has very pretty colors on it’s head, Mary didn’t care for that bird. She did like it’s cousin, the emu though.

Seeing how this attraction is geared towards teaching, it was nice to see that the animals got into the spirit of things, and  tried to bring culture to the masses anyway they could.

This is Whistler’s mother’s Aussie style.  It’s called “Whistler’s Mum.”

Now, even though this animal adventure was pretty impressive, in my opinion there are other wildlife parks that give you a more involved chance to see the animals.

Out in the suburbs of Sydney, there are two different parks that are on my “Where to take visitors” list. They are Koala Park, and Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary. Now THESE are wildlife parks!  This is where you can have lunch with some of the animals, and they don’t mind you touching them.

Like all the other parks, they do have birds, some are  in huge aviaries.

Even these birds will try to entertain you. This is the rainbow lorikeet version of the Rockettes.

This little guy is a Bower bird, and he is very good at mimicking.  The last time I saw him, he put on  quite a show!  He must have been doing a skit about  war, because he had the sounds of machine guns, bombs going off and even a flying helicopter perfectly mastered.  He also made sounds like other birds, cats and dogs. He was brought to this sanctuary because he had a broken bottom beak and can’t make it on the outside. I bet all he needs is a good agent.

Some birds come just for the handouts,

And some wild birds that just come to visit for the day, then go home at night.

Then they have some that came for the day, and decided to just live way up in the trees.they know a good thing when they see it.

Some just need to get away for a while.

And some just come for the water sports.

There are wombats that are usually asleep during the day, but this guy decided to stay up and check out what goes on when the sun is up. Right now he is resting from all the excitement.

This is a real live Tasmanian Devil. They come from the island of Tasmania, which is part of Australia. They are loners, with a really bad attitude, so you don’t want to mess with them.

This is an echidna, and it’s sort of like the Oz version of a porcupine.

This is a real dingo, the Aussie version of a wild dog. Another one you don’t want to mess with.  You’ve heard the saying, “The dingo ate my baby”?  Well, it’s true.

Now of course they have koalas.  As you can see from most of the koalas photos, they sleep a lot.  Like 20 hours a day.

But, at these parks, at certain times of the day, they will wake some of them up, and you can not only have your photo taken with them, but you can pet them also. If you are lucky, they will even smile for the camera. I am stroking this koala while the photo is being taken, and their fur is really soft.

The koalas are cute and cuddly, but the big star of the show are the wallabies.

They take turns as the look out while they are waiting for you.

They are all over the place, just waiting for you to have lunch with them.

They really enjoy having lunch with people,

but they also  enjoy the chat that goes along with the food. Believe it or not, they have come up with a lot of answers to a lot of the world’s problems.  The only problem is they can’t get the politicians to listen to them.

Not only can you feed and pet them, but some of them will put on a show for you.

This guy was really getting into his air guitar.

Like human Aussies, Oz animals are really laid back, and most times  don’t seem to have a care in the world. They just want to make sure you enjoy your visit so you will come back to see them.

They  will even go so far as to  pose with you for photos to put on your blog.  No worries mate.

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