As fires continue to rage across Australia, I gratefully think about our good fortune to have visited in February 2019 before the conflagration began. Coincidentally, I started writing this blog post in September 2019 just as the bushfires commenced. When my husband recently told me about a video of dead animals strewn along the roadway, (which I steadfastly refuse to view), I was finally spurred to action. I re-read my first draft of Disappointment in Brisbane while tearfully watching the morning news showing American firefighters cheered as they arrived at the Sydney airport.
Our opinions are certainly relative to the situation at hand, aren’t they? When I wrote this draft, I was focused on my disappointment because I couldn’t hold a koala. Today that seems silly. I would definitely choose another title now because, with new information, I appreciate and celebrate all surviving koalas without selfishly wanting to hold them. While I have no idea what future travelers will experience as they travel around Australia, I am inspired to record our experiences from February 2019.
Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the capital of the state of Queensland, but the most noteworthy fact to me was the opportunity to cuddle a koala at nearby Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the first and largest koala sanctuary in the world. I did my research prior to our arrival on day 3 of our NCL cruise and learned koalas can be held in only the 3 states of Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. Our ship would not cruise near the other 2 states so this was our one opportunity to hold a koala and we signed up for the cruise line’s excursion to the sanctuary.
I should have suspected a problem when our tickets contained a disclaimer to the effect that holding a koala was dependent on factors beyond their control. What that really meant is we would be there between scheduled holding times and it would be impossible to hold a koala. We arrived after all the tickets for the 9:30 photos were sold and departed before the 12:00 photo session.
Needless to say, it was a disappointment. I wouldn’t have selected this excursion had the cruise line been honest about the activity. And, I definitely would have had my photo taken with a koala when we previously visited Featherdale Wildlife Park although we couldn’t hold them there. If you missed my post about our trip to the Blue Mountains, you can read about our visit to Featherdale here.
Although our plan to hold a koala was thwarted, we did see plenty of these adorable creatures and I especially enjoyed watching them munch on eucalyptus leaves which you can see in the video below. Just seeing a koala awake was a delight since they sleep 18-22 hours each day.
In addition to koalas, the sanctuary is home to kangaroos and wallabies. The mob below was taking it easy in the sweltering heat.
Unlike the koalas, the roos roam freely with no restrictions while visitors wander about taking photos and hand-feeding them.
Among the 70 species of native Australian wildlife found here, the platypus was one of my favorites. As we watched them dive and dart gracefully through the water, they almost seemed to be performing for us.
The bad-tempered Tasmanian Devil, the largest living carnivorous marsupial, is found only in the Australian state of Tasmania. Nocturnal by nature, this devil was sleeping during our visit.
Likewise, the dingo was snoozing in the heat of the day.
Australia is also home to many colorful lizards, kookaburras, and large (creepy) bats.
To date, over 1 billion animals have perished in the bushfires in Australia. Animals like the koala, kangaroo, platypus, wombat, and Tasmanian devil are found only in Australia and it would be tragic to lose these species. If you’re moved to take action to protect the animals and their habitat, you can help with a donation to the World Wildlife Fund.
Following our visit to Lone Pine, our bus took us through the city, pointing out landmarks including traditional Queenslander homes. The distinctive architecture of the Queenslander from the mid to late 1800s included wide verandahs and was raised to protect it from flooding and to draw cool air from underneath.
We made a final stop at the Cliffs Boardwalk for panoramic views and photos of Brisbane before returning to the ship.
*So now you know Brisbane was really not a disappointment. After all, who could be disappointed in a city that offers 300 days of sunshine a year? Cheers to Brisbane!