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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Currumbin Animal Sanctuary - A Review

Queensland is awesome.

Although I find myself at the moment trapped in the back seat of a Honda Jazz between the car seats of a sleeping three year old and a very "over it" two year old whose having a conversation with a plastic lizard.

Trapped in this tight space, for the hour or so from Brisbane to Queensland's Sunshine Coast, clamped in place by two enormous toddler seats, I've tried reading, I've tried drinking an iced Mocha from Gloria Jeans, but boredom and claustrophobia has lead me to take my two year old's lead...

Not having a plastic lizard of my own to complain to I'll resort to texting the tale of how the lizard in question made its way into our family...

Yesterday was day three of my much longed for holiday here in Oz.

I started the morning with the following Status update on Facebook:

"QLD is awesome, Mangos are awesome, not working is awesome, not being contactable is awesome..."

Along with all the other awesome things I mentioned to make my friends back home in cold NZ jealous, I knew today was going to be awesome as we prepared to embark on an adventure down the line - on the Gold Coast.

If you're foreign to Australia any holiday here, in my opinion, is not complete until you tick at least one of these three things from your "must do" list - lose your togs in the surf and exposing your buttocks to the world (ticked that off my list today), get up close and friendly with the evolution-defying wild life and finally overdosing on some of the best fish and chip takeaways this side if the Southern Hemisphere!

Yesterday we took to knocking off item number two and seeking out somewhere that would blow our kid's minds by exposing them to some fair dinkum crikey inducing wild life.

In this part of Queensland there are a few places to choose from - Australia Zoo, made famous by the late Wild Life Warrior, Steve Irwin, or Sea World on the Gold Coast which I can vouch for as pretty cool but...

Being on a tight budget we chose a third option - Currumbin Animal Sanctuary.

The reasons were mostly personal, given I had lived on the Gold Coast for about 6 years, I wanted to show my kids what life was like for Dad in the old days but the fact that under 4's get in for free made my wallet say, "let's go there instead!"

The first thing that got me was the staff, after the 55 minute drive from Brisbane the kids were acting out like epileptic rats, so a quick stop for an ice-block at the Park's entrance cafe helped to reset their mood while I met a friendly kangaroo handler who doted over my girls for a few minutes.

It's always mice when a total stranger reminds you that your children are nice, you sometimes need that after being trapped in a car with them for an hour.

While the girls ruined their summer dresses with melting Calippos and I sipped on the iced-mocha the barrister made for me even though it wasn't on the menu, my youngest was very disturbed by the replica of an iguana watching us from nearby. It looked so real we had to poke it a few times to convince her it wasn't going to have us for snacks.

Then a water dragon joined us. Just so you know in New Zealand, where I'm from, we have a pretty funky variety of creatures but for an Aucklander like myself sharing a cafe with something as large and reptilian and unphased as a Water Dragon is like having a coffee with an astronaut whose chest suddenly bursts open as Ridley Scott’s alien flies across the table.

Australia is so alien it might as well be Mars.

And at this stage we hadn't actually made it past the gift shop.

The Sanctuary itself is scenic, lush and feels like a scene from Jurassic Park. Our first stop was an area where the only thing separating you from pythons, Red Belly Black Snakes and crocs is the comforting glass...

However this didn't stop this water dragon from telepathically interrogating us from his rock outside his enclosure! I touched him, he didn't care, he was probably calculating how much of me he could fit in his refrigerator.

After that we could have caught the Park's family friendly train but we decided to walk past the koala (or drop-bear) enclosure. My girls got excited over the "that ones" in the eucalyptus trees who, we realized, weren't doing very much at all.

We moved on from there to a pretty sweet playground where I got eaten by a fibre glass crocodile, threatened by an enormous spider and once again spied on by yet another water dragon. Were these things following us?

We ventured further into the park, now on a quest to find our girls some kangaroos. We passed a Tasmanian Devil enclosure along the way where we didn't see any Tasmanian Devils, but we did however see the remains of the rabbit they had just been fed. I liked that bit.

I refrained from photographing the dead rabbit parts...

Finally we found the kangaroo area where I met the friendly lady from the cafe again as I filled a plastic cup with animal feed. From her I learned that a large number of the females had Joey's
onboard, that is, babies.

Have you ever lost your kid in a toy store? A candy store even? A Pet Store? Well, imagine losing them in a toy store where all the toys are alive and possibly made of chocolate. Despite all these kangaroos lying around and, some of them even bigger than me, you would have thought they were made of lolly pops the way my kids terrorized them for cuddles, pats and even conversation. This was it, this was what we paid for and this is the main reason I'd recommend this park to anyone, the kangaroos made my kids as crazy as if they bathed daily in red cordial and gave my camera clicking fingers lots of exercise.

By now it was past midday and the Aussie heat was proving too much for this kiwi family. We had only seen perhaps a third of the park but we had sure got our money’s worth.

The super fast mini train pulled into the kangaroo enclosure and my wife and I agreed it was time to go.

Twenty minutes later my girls have a rubber snake each, an echidna and a plastic lizard. The friendly staff helped me to sneak out some paddle pops for the grownups.

Later that day on a completely different part of the Gold Coast I saw another Water Dragon spying in my family near a swimming pool. Was that a spy radio attached to his head?

Queensland is awesome.

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