Australia Day 

In celebration of Australia Day, which is held on 26th January to celebrate the establishment of the first permanent European settlement on the continent of Australia, I have decided to dedicate this blog to this stunning place. 

If any of you have ever been lucky enough to travel to Australia, you will know from first-hand experience, what an incredible place it is. In early 2016, Markus and I were lucky enough to go to Australia. We travelled around the southeast coast of this beautiful country.


Australia Zoo

We started off our journey landing in Brisbane. After a very long flight we decided to go straight to Australia Zoo. Probably not the best idea in the world as we were both pretty tired. However, we had a lot to pack into this holiday in just over two weeks. 

Whilst there we toured the zoo, taking in as much as we possibly could, and managed to see most of their impressive collection. Plus we got to meet some residents.

Markus, meeting Wombats.

We even got to watch one of their famous Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Show where their keepers have birds flying through the crowd, interacting with the public. Plus, we watched one of their crocodiles being fed. 

Australia Zoo Crocoseum 

Next, we were off to Sydney

Exploring the city

Sydney Opera House 

In this amazing city we were lucky enough to catch a boat tour out of Sydney harbour, taking in the breath-taking views of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and had a look at millionaire’s row. The sea was pretty choppy that day the further the boat travelled out, so we weren’t out for too long. Nevertheless, we did get to see bottle nose dolphins and Markus got in some snorkelling around a ship wreck.  

Bottle Nose Dolphin 
Ship Wreck 
Australian Pelican  

Taronga Zoo

You can’t go to Sydney and not go to Taronga Zoo. This zoo is very impressive, especially if you head to the giraffe exhibit where you can get an amazing shot of the Sydney Opera house in the background.  

Giraffes at Taronga Zoo 

Sea Life Sydney

We also met up with an aquarist who works solely with the Dugongs at Sea Life Sydney. Learning about this iconic species and the amount of care it takes to look after them was incredible. They have a dedicated chiller unit, solely for the food that they are fed. This needs to be changed every few hours, night and day.  

Walking around Sydney is an experience in itself, especially if you managed to walk around their parks. It’s very bizarre to see so many iconic Australian bird species just wandering around. From Australian White Ibis to Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets to Pied Currawongs. The amount of birds that we saw was incredible considering that Sydney is such a large busy city!

From Sydney to Melbourne

Melbourne Zoo

Here we visited Melbourne Zoo which is a part of Zoos Victoria. They have some stunning naturalistic enclosures here with a particular favourite of mine being their Gorilla Rainforest habitat.

Healesville Sanctuary

We also visited Healesville Sanctuary, which is also part of Zoos Victoria. Markus gave a talk to their keepers about what enrichment we do here at Wingham Wildlife Park with our animals. At Healesville we also got our first glimpse of a Platypus. One of the most bizarre creatures I have ever seen.  


We also learnt about their conservation projects involving native species, one of them being the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum. This species is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial, making it incredible special. I felt very privileged to have been able to hold one of these extremely rare, small animals.

Ignore me and look at the cute fluffy Mountain Pygmy Possum 

Great Otway National Park

We had to leave very early in the morning whilst it was still dark to be able to get to Great Otway National Park, one of the best spots to try and see wild Platypus in the area. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see any of these illusive creatures here though.

On the way we did however manage to spot some native wildlife whilst looking for Platypus in the form of Koala’s, Galahs and a King Parrot. 

Can you spot the Koala? 
King Parrot 
Crimson Rosella Parrot 

It’s quite surreal to be driving along and see flocks of Galahs on the road, just like our crows or pigeons, but obviously much more colourful.  

Philip Island

We then made a trip to Philip Island to see the native colony of Little Penguins. Here, you can book night time tours to go down on to the beach with a guide and some night sight goggles to look at the penguins as they return to their nests. It was an incredible experience to be able to sit on a beach in the dead of night and watch these gorgeous penguins casually stroll past you.  

Phillip Island 
Phillip Island at Dusk 

Whilst here we were also incredibly lucky to see a wild Short-beaked Echidna. Markus happened to be driving and suddenly slammed the breaks on, shouting “Echidna!”. He was out of the car and off before I could even get my seatbelt off. We were very quiet and stayed a distance back as we watched in awe at the spiky monotremata (egg laying mammal) family member go about it’s business.  

Short-beaked Echidna 
Markus in the wild 
Swamp Wallaby 

Our last stop was Adelaide

Adelaide Zoo

Here we went to Adelaide Zoo and we were lucky enough to see Australia’s only breeding pair of Giant Pandas Wang Wang and Fu Ni, relaxing in their out door enclosures. 

Giant Panda 

Adelaide has some very delicious food and if you are hankering for a sweet treat, the Bakery on O’Connell is a must stop for their famous cronuts. Plus, it’s open 24 hours a day which is always a bonus. 

Cleland Wildlife Park

Markus and I were also very lucky to have a week’s work experience at Cleland Wildlife Park with their Koalas and Dingo’s. The weather was extremely hot, with temperatures pushing past 40 degrees every day.

It was a pleasure to be able to work with not only the animals at this collection but also the dedicated keepers. Watching them work in those kinds of temperatures, cutting huge pieces of eucalyptus for their 60+ koalas was a superhuman feat. I even had to drop out one day from heat stroke and spent the day in our air conditioned hotel room to recuperate. 

Me playing with the puppies 

Koala’s are extremely fussy when it comes to their food. So, the staff have to make regular trips to their eucalyptus plantations to cut fresh browse for them every 3-4 days. They fill their truck, bring it back and then store it in large chiller units in huge butts of water. This keeps it as fresh as possible without drying out in the hot sun. The koalas only really eat the fresh new growth on the branches, so a lot has to be cut to provide them enough food. This collection also provides a local emergency care service to any koalas that might have been injured or sick within the local area.

Seeing the care that was taken with these wild koalas who were scared, and sick was truly inspiring.

Some day I hope that we will be able to travel back to this amazing country and see more of what Australia has to offer. 

About Ruth - Head Keeper

Ruth is the head keeper at Wingham Wildlife Park, having been with the park since 2008. When the park was first taken over all of the keepers looked after all of the species, and as such Ruth has a wide range of abilities with the animals here, giving her the right skill set as our head keeper. When she is out of the office (which is most of the time), she specialises in primates.