Attack of the Koalas!

29 Jun

Just kidding- I didn’t get attacked by koalas. Except by their cuteness. Their fluffy, soft, melt-your-heart cuteness. *sigh*

We had repeat visitor passes to the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island and decided to make a day of it and stop by the Koala Conservation Centre while we were there. For $11 per person, you can go hang out with the koalas in their sort-of-natural habitat. (I say sort of, because they aren’t native to the island and they had to plant a bunch of eucalyptus trees just for them.) That’s basically half the price of a movie ticket and ten times more entertaining.

So. Be prepared to die from all the koala cuteness that is about to ensue.

The Koala Conservation Center is home to about 30 koalas. Visitors can walk along the boardwalks and see them doing what koalas do best, which is sleeping and eating.

There are numerous signs posted indicating that visitors should not touch the koalas, shout at them, or shake the trees. H commented that he thought it was sad that anybody would actually need a sign to tell them that, but one of the rangers who was kind enough to answer all of our koala questions and tell us about the individual koalas that were up and about said that when the tour buses roll in, he has to be on his toes about keeping koalas off the hand railings and making sure visitors don’t bother them. He said the people who come in on tour buses will often shake the branches the koalas are sleeping on or even throw things at them in an attempt to get a photo op. I was quite sad to hear that it is such a problem and that so many people do not have respect for the nature and wildlife they are viewing.

They do need to let people see the animals in order to be able to make enough money to keep their conservation efforts going and it’s really a shame that there are tourists who would actually risk injuring a living creature just to take a stupid photo when all that is really needed is a little patience. I waited for half an hour for one koala, the oldest female named Calista, who is 11 years old, to wake up from a nap and start moving around, but once she did, it was well worth the wait and two-thirds of the photos I’ve posted here are of her.

We then later went to see the Penguin Parade, which I have posted about before. Previously, we took the Ultimate Tour, which is on a secluded beach with a group of no more than ten (no kids allowed) with night vision goggles. We bought repeat visitor passes on that occasion for $6 each, which is just for general admission (normally costs $22), so this time, we enjoyed the penguins from the main viewing area with the rest of the crowd. This time of year, there are only a fraction of the penguins coming in each night, but the crowds are also a lot smaller.

Once again, patience paid off, and after everyone else had left, we remained and got to see a huge group of penguins waddling up the beach while the ranger in charge of counting them told us all about the penguins and how long they spend at sea (up to five weeks, maximum!) and how long they can go without hunting at this time of year (about 3-4 weeks) and that most of them get killed by predators.

Unfortunately, no pictures of the penguins to post, as photography isn’t allowed. But if you are a tourist who cares about something more than just taking a photo, this is a really neat attraction and is easily combined with a visit to the koalas.

2 Responses to “Attack of the Koalas!”

  1. Cosette June 30, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing these lovely photos. Koalas really are so very cute. The tourist behavior you describe here is awful. People can be so stupid and selfish. I witnessed a little bit of this at William Ricketts Sanctuary, which is quiet and serene. A tourist family was being loud and literally knocking on the statues with their fists as if they were knocking on a door.

    • housewifedownunder June 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Koalas are definitely my favourite Australian animal. They are cute enough to make me almost forget there are no squirrels here.

      It makes me so mad when I see tourists behaving in ways that are disrespectful to whatever it is they are visiting. Like, if you are just showing up to destroy something, why even bother showing up at all? When G and I did the Great Ocean Road a few months ago, he waited in a parking lot for me while I ran back to get a better picture, since I realised the ones I had just taken were all out of focus. When I came back, I found him helping a Parks Victoria worker pick up the litter in the area and complaining to the guy about how everybody wants to come see Australia’s beautiful places, but then can be bothered to help keep it beautiful by not throwing their trash on the ground. Whatever happened to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”?

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