SP-beachAfter we left Melbourne, we flew into Brisbane and then drove out to an area called Surfers Paradise. Now, let me say first that the beach itself was absolutely lovely, but my other impressions of Surfers Paradise were not as positive. In fact, I can best describe it as what might happen if you picked up Las Vegas and dumped it in south Florida (and then replaced all the Latino influences in FL with Asian ones).  Kitesurfing seemed to be huge–we saw it on all the beaches we visited, possibly because no matter how hot the day, a stiff wind always gave the surfers plenty of lift!

As we usually do on vacation, however, we didn’t stay put. We usually pick a direction and drive off in search of cool stuff, which is exactly what we did from our home base of Surfer’s Paradise.

SP-DalekThe first day, with no idea where we were going, we drove off and stopped to eat breakfast on the road at an antiques shop and café. I got the warm fuzzies having breakfast being watched over by this Dalek.

Then we drove from town to town, stopping to do things like peer across a field at a bunch of kangaroos hanging out under a tree. Even though we were a good 150 feet away when we spotted them, they all perked right up and got ready to run. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. Fields and hills and what they call “creeks” that we’d call the mighty Mississippi.

We ended up in a small town called Healesville where there was an animal sanctuary. So, naturally, we had to go there! That’s where we got to meet some kangaroos up close. Here’s Mike petting one:


We also hung out with a Tasmanian Devil. I love to watch Devils run. They’re so funny!

And the wombats:

The next day, we went out to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. KOALAS. Many of you may know that this was the  thing I was most looking forward to about the whole Australia trip.

Mike and Theresa the koalaAnd yes, I got to “cuddle” a kola. That’s what they call it when you hold one, even though you’re actually just pretending to be a tree and letting the koala sit on you. Koalas can be pet, but not cuddled, in NSW, but in Queensland cuddling is still legal, though koalas have specific working conditions. According to the Lone Pine site,

In Queensland, koalas can only be cuddled for less than 30 minutes per day. They must also get every third day off. This ensures that they get plenty of time to eat and sleep. At Lone Pine, we “clock on” and “clock off” our koalas when they go to the koala cuddling area.

But koalas aren’t all they have at Lone Pine. No, indeed. More kangaroos in an area where you can walk around and hang out with and feed them, free-roaming lizards, and strange birds, indeed!