Cuddling Cute Critters: Australia Edition

There was a day when I spent eight full hours with Australia’s cutest wildlife – from opening to closing.

My co-workers in Melbourne knew that I loved hiking and animals, so they made some stellar recommendations on places to visit on my days off. Thanks to them, I was led to Healesville Sanctuary in Melbourne, and it was worth every expensive dollar paid for the admission.

Japan may have the most clean and well-groomed animals, but Australia has the cutest native animals in the entire world. I was just running around the sanctuary cooing the whole time.

Even Australian possums are angels compared to America’s (which, apparently are opossums here – adding the ‘o’ makes them more terrifying, I guess). The thing on the right looks like a devilish rat – the cuddly critter on the right looks like a baby kangaroo!

possum comparison

Sidenote: Watch a video of me feeding an Aussie possum Cheetos here. I died of cuteness overload that evening in the park.

As much as I try not to walk around with “TOURIST” screaming all over my face, the fact that I paid for three extra “Magic Moments” with wombats, kangaroos, and a Victorian koala (to my dismay, I soon realized you’re not allowed to hold these – you can only hold Queensland koalas) was a dead giveaway. I guess it didn’t help that the guy who hosted each animal encounter was (an extremely nerdy and cute) same guy the entire day, so he had to deal with my animal fervor three separate times. His amused face said it all – “This chick again?!” – and he probably assumed I was a typical camera-wielding Asian tourist.

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Marion, a 14-yr. old kangaroo

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I was proud of myself for figuring out how to get from the Lilydale train station to the correct bus that dropped me off in front of the sanctuary. This is mostly thanks to the efficiently amazing Victorian public transport site. And to think, I was taking buses in the wrong direction when I first arrived in Auckland in 2013…

The bus ride through Healesville was beautiful and reminiscent of driving through vineyards and Kula ranges – not a bad way to start a Saturday morning. It was nothing short of blissful. I loved watching Yarra Valley through the windows – it’s probably why I have a soft spot in my heart for Northern California and the vineyards up there.

I was bombarded with animal facts that day, and much like any other day, wanted to race back and type them all out before they escaped my horribly-forgetful brain. I learned that male platypuses have poisonous spurs on their hind legs that they use to attack predators and other males with – quite scary yet resourceful. They also close their eyes, hold their breath, and use sonic senses underwater. Apparently, “platypi” isn’t the grammatically correct plural form of “platypus,” either…

One of the highlights was seeing a mother koala leap from tree to tree with her baby clinging to her back. The sight was precious. Pictures are mixed in somewhere below.

I absolutely love sanctuaries (especially since they’re more ethical than zoos) because of the ability to be close to nature and adorable animals. To be fair, none of my wanderings in Australia were ever lackluster – they always left me wanting more and in such awe of the beauty of the country. I mean, do I really need to say why New Zealand and Australia are my top two favorite places in the world? It’s silly to even have to explain myself… 🙂

For the love of animals!

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