ROAD TRIP DIARIES # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
On our second and last day at Townsville, we visited the Billabong Sanctuary to have a hands on adventure with some Australian native animals including crocodiles, koalas, wombats, kangaroos and other marsupials. The sanctuary is set in 11 hectares of natural tropical North Queensland bush and claims to offer Australia’s best interactive wildlife sanctuary. The guests here are allowed to hold a koala, hug a wombat, hold a crocodile and wrap a python around their neck.
“Kangaroos feed at night on grass and other low growing plants.”
Kangaroos belong to a group of marsupials called “macrop0ds”, which means great footed animals
Another specie of kangaroo
Billabong Sanctuary is divided into different habitats of eucalypt forest, rainforest and wetlands simulating the natural environment of the wildlife. Many of the animals like the birds and friendly kangaroos are freely roaming around. It is common to see pacific ducks and purple swan hens foraging in the bush, birds hovering around or even tree snakes if you’re lucky. The experience was like walking through the real Australian bush.
“Koala‘ comes from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning ‘no drink’.”
“They don’t drink often as they get moisture from eucalyptus leaves.”
The best part of our visit was the interaction with the animals – holding the animals and photographic opportunities with them were part of the entrance fee. The guided talks were informative and entertaining but it was fun exploring the bushland on our own as well. We enjoyed the talk about the koalas and their cousin the wombat the most but it was also the only animal that required an extra fee to get your picture taken in their improvised outdoor studio. I guess they knew people would pay for this cuddly mammal, but I sure won’t pay to wrap a python around my neck.
Thank you very much. Pass!
Another Australian marsupial – Wombat
Dingo – a primitive roaming dog unique to the country specifically in the Outback
We spent some quality time with Ray Charles instead while the rest were busy lining up to get their pictures taken with the star koala for a fee. Ray Charles is blind but he was still as cuddly, cute and free to interact with. He was attacked by a dog before and was brought to the sanctuary. We then moved on to the crocodiles and dingo feeding before checking out the other animals on our own. It was my first time seeing a dingo, Australia’s wild dog, and I learned that it was actually considered a pest. It is found in all states except Tasmania but is not a native animal.
Curlew is a ground dwelling bird that specialises in hunting small grassland animals.
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo – native and very common to Australia
After visiting the sanctuary, we went back to the city and drove up Castle Hill for the sunset. The sunset wasn’t anything special but the view of the city and Cleveland Bay was wonderful. There were lots of locals, dog-walkers, and health buffs huffing and puffing their way up the 300 meter hill. We only spent two days in the city but we couldn’t wait to get back to the real bush and on the beach. Our next stop was Magnetic Island where I first experience sunbathing on a nude beach.
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)