The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary on the outskirts of Brisbane, the capital of the Australian state of Queensland, is the world’s oldest & largest sanctuary of its kind. The koalas are obviously the main attraction – and they seem to shoulder that burden well – but there is so much other Aussie-heavy wildlife on show – kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas, a cassowary, snakes, reptiles and even a platypus, which, in a country full of strange creatures may just be the strangest of them all. All of this wildlife on display means that the $33 (€26) entrance fee, as of April 2012, is pretty good value.
Koalas || Don’t Call Us Bears
The sanctuary houses over 130 koalas, the uber-cute, sluggish, tailless Australian arboreal marsupials (they are not bears, in fact they are not even remotely related to bears) with grey furry ears and coat which feeds on eucalyptus leaves.
The koala’s sole food source is eucalyptus, not a very good energy provider (it’s actually toxic), which is why they spend 18-20 hours of the day sleeping. The other 4-6 hours are spent eating &, if you’re a Lone Pine koala, having your picture taken hugging a tourist like me – the sanctuary is one of the very few places in the world where visitors are still allowed to hold a koala – it’s a banned practice just over the border in New South Wales with some muting it could soon too be outlawed here in Queensland.
Birds of Prey
The sanctuary schedules many displays & demonstrations throughout the day, one of which is the Raptors/Birds of Prey demonstration. It was during this event that I captured the above picture of the Barking Owl in flight in the light rain. The owl is so-called because of its distinctive bark-like call. It’s a gorgeous creature with large eyes (that have a yellow iris), a dark tipped beak and, unlike the distinctive heart-shaped facial mask of the barn owl (see following picture), have almost no facial mask.
– Sir David Attenborough
The illusive Southern Cassowary is a large black flightless bird native of Australia and New Guinea. Its dominant feature is a distinctive horny head crest which it can use to inflict serious damage on intruders (humans, dogs etc.). I was very lucky to get a fleeting glimpse of one of these in the wild in Northern Queensland 9 years ago and was also very lucky to get this picture. It took a while to find him in his heavily-wooded enclosure but once I did – & once I had, unknowns to myself, entered a restricted area – he stood some inches from my camera on the other side of a protective fence (the reason for wavy vegnetting effect seen in the corners of the image), holding his pose just long enough for me to fire off this one shot. I can safely say that you won’t find too many up close & personal pictures of a cassowary like this one.
Of course what’s an Australian wildlife sanctuary without kangaroos? Not an Australian wildlife sanctuary, that’s what. The five acre open-plan kangaroo reserve at Lone Pine allows visitors to roam freely with some 130 hungry kangaroos, the most quintessential of Australian marsupials. The roos in here seemed quite timid & not very shy – they are expecting food & so will approach you expecting to consume the contents of the $2 bags of kangaroo feed you should arm yourself with prior to entering the enclosure. You’ve been warned.