One of the main things that makes Australia such a unique individual, is its wildlife. Something that it does not share with any other country in the world. Where else would you find giant, rabbit-like animals that hop around and can carry their whole body weight on their tail? Or box you and easily knock you out for that matter… Where else would you find cute little marsupials that spend most of their time sleeping and lounging out on the branches they’re just about to eat? Or spiders so bloody massive you’d need a lot more than just a glass and piece of A4 paper to catch them?
When us foreigners picture Australia, usually the first things that come to mind are wide stretches of yellowy- orange outback, kangaroos, Corona (mistakenly) and most commonly, humongous huntsman spiders. So going to see its infamous wildlife first hand is one of the things on the top of every backpackers bucket list. Have you really been to Oz if you haven’t got a photo with at least one of these animals?
Last week I was lucky enough to be joined by my auntie Emmie for the day (she and a friend flew over to Perth and Bali for the week to be reunited with their other friend, to celebrate the year they all turn fourty), to do just that. She picked me up at the train station around eleven AM and after a few hugs, excited noises (the ones you make that sound like a screeching car before it crashes), and lots of exclaiming “oh my god this is so weird, how surreal is this, wait, what are we doing? We’re in Australia, wait, what?!”, we made our way to Caversham Wildlife Park.
I’m very anti-zoos (unless the animals have been rescued or are better off in that environment), so the good thing about Caversham wildlife park, is that all of the animals there are living in a climate they are used to and have plenty of space to run around freely. There’s not that horrible sense of incarceration, but rather you feel like you are walking into their natural habitat.
Emmie treated me and paid for my entry and we obviously headed straight for the kangaroos because YOU CAN FEED THEM AND STROKE THEM AND HANG OUT WITH THEM! Both me and Emmie are absolutely obsessed with animals and have so much love for every animal in existence, so pretty much all day we were like Augustus Gloop walking into the Chocolate factory over and over again.
We weren’t expecting them to be so chilled out. They were literally lounging around with their eyes closed and didn’t even flinch when you stroked them. In fact, they seemed to be loving it. And when we went up to a couple with food in our hands they just casually started eating it and then went back to minding their own business again.
Some of the kangaroos were white, which I’d never seen before. They were all so soft and monged out and every now and again we’d spot one get up and leg it (or tail it?) down the grass and it was so funny and weird to watch. I guess because these animals are so alien to us, it makes them so much more intriguing.
I managed to get kangaPOO (oh god that was so awful, so dad of me) stuck to my trousers and Emmie’s bum kept sneaking into the background of photos. We moved on to go and see some other animals until it was time to go and see the koalas, which we’d already said we would elbow little kids out of the way to get to the front if we needed to.
Caversham Wildlife Park is home to lots of different species of bird, like the Kookaburra, black swan and wedge tailed eagle. There are also quokkas and bats wallabies and we seemed to make squeemy little- girl noises at almost everything, “aww so cute, aww look at that one eating, all look how it sleeps, oh my god that ones BREATHING how adorable”.
We continued to catch up over a sarnie and lemonade (which was so worth the 69grams of sugar in each bottle), then got to the ‘meet the koalas’ attraction early enough to make sure we wouldn’t have to queue. Luckily for the kids, none of them got elbowed that day in the end.
I knew they were going to be cute, but I didn’t realise how cute they were actually going to be. Two of them cuddled and slept, and the rest all sat on their little branches and munched away at their leaves, literally not giving two shits about anything else going on in the world. There is a myth that the food they eat gets them high, which is totally believable because they are soooo chilled out, but it’s not actually true. Apparently their food is high in toxins and low in nutrition, which is the real reason they sleep so much.
We got to stroke and take photos with this little ball of fluff, called lucky. He was an older koala and was so interested in carrying on eating that he didn’t seem to notice us for a split second. Like all the others, he looked just like a real-life, moving teddy. For a few moments I contemplated grabbing him and just casually walking off with him (maybe if I acted like it was normal, no one would get suspicious).
It was one of the first proper sunny, hot days I’ve had it Perth, so it was nice that Mother Nature decided to be kind to us that day. We felt like we were on a natural high after leaving and having our dose of being surrounded by and interacting with animals.
To finish off the perfect day, I took Emmie to my work (Barchetta), for some booze and food. We sat on the beach for a couple of hours with coffees and had a proper catch up, spending most of our time in stitches. At one point we were looking for shells in the sand and just as Emmie was telling me how she found a toe in the sand in Greece before (like a toe from an ancient statue not a real one), she said something along the lines of “Some people don’t really go searching in the sand- oh my god someone’s pissed here”, only to realise she was accidentally playing with somebody’s pissy tissue!
Once again the food at my work was perfection, as was the wine, and the sunset was beautiful too. It went from lighting up the sky to turning it orange and red and blackening the clouds. We saw dolphins too! They’re never around that time of the day, but I really hoped the universe would make it happen so we could see them when me and Emmie were there.
I was sad to go our separate ways after having such a perfect day- one of the best I’ve had since being away. But remembering that I had two massive bars of Cadburys and Wispa’s in my bag made that all better; the Cadbury’s in Oz has anti-melt in it so it tastes completely different, so Emmie helped me get my fix by bringing some over. I just know time is going to go so quickly now and suddenly I’ll be home and that thought kind of scares me because I just don’t feel like I’m ever going to be ready to go back and start all over again.
Something I’ve realised since being in Oz, is that it’s a real bugger if you or a friend can’t drive. Caversham Wildlife Park, much like other tourist spots, isn’t far from central Perth at all, but it’s a real pain to get to if you can’t drive. So I highly recommend if you want to go to Australia and don’t drive, either go with someone who does, or get your license beforehand. You will be able to do so much more, and save a lot more money.
Although I haven’t felt homesick at all since being away, I have really missed A LOT of people since being back in a working routine in Oz, especially my nutty family. I miss lazy family Sundays at my dad’s, eating Helen’s amazing food and Charlie and Florence just being generally hilarious. Evenings at nana’s doing tarot cards, raiding the fridge, watching murder programmes and drinking Vodka. Snuggles with Jessie in bed. Going to the gym, yoga, getting chips and curry sauce and having days out drinking prosecco with mum, Jaz, Josh and Ava. Jack and us just taking nothing seriously ever. Being so close to everyone and being lucky enough to have such a close-knit family has really made me realise how much I love their company and can’t wait to be back with them. But saying that, if someone could put me on a plane home right now there’s no way I’d get on.