Back to the Land of Oz! On our second day in Sydney, Kels, Andy and I set out in the morning to grab a rental car and head for Port Stephens. It’s a popular holiday spot a couple hours up the coast from Sydney, and we had an Air B&B booked for two nights. On the way, our plan was to stop off at the Australian Reptile Park. Don’t let the name fool you – they also have kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils and so SO much more.
As soon as we got to the park, we were greeted with THIS sign. Of course, Kels and I had to take advantage of the ridiculous gator’s pose.
Then it was Andy’s turn to join in. All I can think of is Jurassic Park.
Don’t Andy and Kels make convincing lizards?
Now, for our first stop once we paid for park entry:
Yup, the platypusary, to visit “Pete” the platypus.
It was hard to capture Petey in his dark exhibit, but I did my best.
In the center of the park, kangaroos are free to roam around inside a fenced area, so of course we headed straight there!
We later learned that kangaroo feed (purchased from the park, of course) makes the roos a lot more keen for cuddles and selfies. We had a go at it without bribes at first.
A reptile show was starting up nearby, so we got a chance to learn about some of the many creatures in Australia that can kill you. Hey, they can’t help it! No need to hold it against them, but maybe give them some space.
We even got to see a snake being “milked” for venom to create anti-venom/antivenin. The Australian Reptile Park milks both snakes and spiders, creating valuable life-saving resources for Aussies (or tourists – eek) who end up getting bitten.
This is how it works, according to their site:
Anti-venoms are produced by BioCSL in Melbourne. Snake venom is forwarded from the Australian Reptile Park to the laboratories where, after being processed, it is injected into Percheron horses. Over 250 horses take part in the anti-venom program, all living the life of luxury. They undergo minimal stress during the inoculation and extraction processes. Inoculation is quite harmless, and extraction is as simple as donating blood for humans.
The horses are given increasing doses of venom over a period of time until they have built up sufficient antibodies to the venom. After this has occurred, antibodies are extracted from the blood, purified and reduced to a usable form – this becomes anti-venom.
Quite the process! Thanks, horses.
When the show was done, we went to check out the park’s Tasmanian devil siblings. This photo came out a bit blurry, but I love it.
They kept play-fighting, and the noises they make really drive home how they got their name, despite being pretty darn cute, in my opinion. It also reminded me of why we named my Jack Russell back home Taz.
This keeper has known them since they were tiny, so they treat him like a family member.
And, like the little devils they are, they chew on his socks and shoes.
The koalas were up next. They’re a lot bigger than I thought, though…
But really, what an awesome photo op – Kels, Kels, koala.
Now, for some real ones.
We soon made it to the birds, and this one has to be my favorite – the tawny frogmouth. Google them if you want to know how they got their name.
That night in Port Stephens, we’d come across one in the wild, which was pretty cool. They’re often mistaken for owls, but are a separate species altogether. I think Higgs would love a tawny frogmouth brother.
We’d also see a few kookaburras around Australia, but they’d never get old.
What a beauty!
On the way to see more amazing feathered denizens of Oz, we passed quite a few American alligators. They’ve come a long way to be in Australia, but I guess I can relate!
They seem to fit in nicely with all the other dangerous beasts, and Florida can certainly spare a few.
On the other end of the spectrum, there were cute flying foxes, having a nap in the bright sunshine. It’s also easy to see how they got their name.
Higgs with wings?
Rainbow lorikeets were snacking in the trees of the park, not confined to any aviaries.
Last, but certainly not least, I managed to catch this swiftly-flitting male variegated fairywren when he temporarily alit on a branch in the bush. Magic!
Come back soon for part two – roo cuddles and even a joey!