Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 310 (120)
Wednesday 12th January (2005)
The rest of the household was already awake by the time I got up this morning – nothing new there. We had previously arranged to spend today at the Billabong Sanctuary just South of Townsville. As a nice surprise, Judy’s mother (affectionately known to us simply as ‘grandma’) would be joining us for the trip. We had to remove various bits and pieces of the car to get the wheelchair in but Judy gave us her disabled sticker to put in the front window so we wouldn’t have any problems with parking.
The Billabong Sanctuary is a good value day out. Our student cards got us through the turnstiles for just AU$20 (€12,20) each whilst grandma got in for free. It isn’t quite a zoo but that’s probably the closest thing that I can think of to describe it. Surrounding a large pond are various animal exhibits or enclosures. All the Australian native species are represented plus a few others to boot. At various times throughout the day, park rangers hold half-hour informational talks about the animals, at the end of which the observing crowd have the opportunity to hold, pet of cuddle one of the animals. During the day, we got to hold a wombat, koala, various snakes and even a small crocodile. We also went into an enclosure full of pedamelons. I’d never heard of these creatures before. They look like a very small version of a kangaroo. The adults stand no taller than around thirty centimetres but they bounce around with quite a bit of agility nevertheless. They seemed to enjoy eating the seeds that we bought at the front desk right out of our hands. One of the things that has disappointed me thus far about Australia has been the fact that we’ve not seen any real kangaroos but this was remedied today when we walked into a couple of Grey Kangaroos on the way around the Billabong Sanctuary grounds. We were able to get up close and very personal with them both after an initial bit of getting used to each other and I had the larger of the two eating out of my hand eventually. For me, this was a real treat and yet another tick on the great list. We spent the whole morning and even some of the afternoon exploring the park and getting to now more about Australian animals before partaking in a spot of lunch at the centre’s café and finally setting off back into Townsville.
Since the Billabong Sanctuary is South of Townsville whilst Kim & Judy’s house is North of town, we decided to stop in town to visit Kim in his new jewellery shop along the way. It was fascinating getting to see the workings of a master jeweller and all the tools of the trade. We left grandma at the shop with Kim and his son, Jay, whilst we carried on with our day’s excitement with a trip to the local IMAX theatre and the Reef HQ museum. We spent the rest of the afternoon marvelling at many of the creatures of the deep that we had bumped into ourselves whilst diving over the past days and weeks. The IMAX presentation of the Great Barrier Reef was a fitting closure to the day’s fun and games and we eventually made our way back home for another wonderful barbeque dinner and a surprise birthday cake for Sandy. Life is good.