It was such a welcome and very happy return for me to find myself once more in Brisbane for the second time in 12 months. This time I was determined to do something I had missed on my first visit to Australia – to go and meet some of the country’s wildlife.
Last time I found out about the city’s cultural opportunities but today I wanted to do something different.
Because the ship is a little on the large side, we were moored at the grain and coal dock way out of the city. This dock provided the water depth we needed but meant a 45 minute ride into the city, and the tour which was intended to take 5 hours was stretched considerably further.
The warm, pleasant start to the day became hot and sticky and on occasions we were introduced to the liquid gold of Australia – rain showers.
Our first stop was to see sheep rounded up by dogs, separated into individual pens and then sheared. Whilst I have seen such demonstrations before, I had never seen one where the ‘yard dog’ actually got into the pen with the sheep, jumped on their backs and eye-balled the one she wanted to separate. There was nothing dumb about these animals! There are millions of sheep in Australia and one dog can handle 500 at a time. Merino fleeces were stripped, sorted and bundled in no time at all and the newly shorn sheep were pure white and incredibly soft to touch.
Then it was time for the eagerly awaited cuddle with a koala. These dear little creatures are docile for much of the day and apparently sleep for 18 hours out of every 24. My slight nervousness came from the clear evidence all around that waking or sleeping they made a mess and much defecating went on. Perhaps not the ideal day for a white top!
They sit on your hands for the photograph and, on being introduced, Orinoco immediately decided to get his paw under my t-shirt. Cheeky boy! Duly reprimanded by his handler, he sighed, returned his paw to an acceptable place and moved in for a cuddle. It was love! He was happy to stay and I was happy to hold him but our time together was over too soon as he was moved on to the next person in the queue. But there was immediately a squeal and Orinoco had emptied himself! He turned his head in the confusion which followed and I absolutely swear he winked at me!
There were fresh water crocodiles (allegedly frightened of humans but I wasn’t hanging around to find out), dingos, wombats, emus, Tasmanian devils, platypus, etc., etc., but we still had the tour of the city to do, a potential river cruise or shopping. I wondered if they might have missed one little koala…..