We just came home from our vacation to South Australia. We saw the beautiful sights and critters of Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, and tasted many of the amazing wines of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
Before beginning our winery tours through the Barossa Valley, we decided to spend the morning at Cleland Wildlife Park. Not only do we love playing with critters, but well let’s face it, 9:30am really is too early to start drinking wine. Cleland is about 15km SE of Adelaide. It’s located on top of Mount Lofty which means an incredibly scenic and a bit scary drive up the twisty mountain roads that as usual do not include guard rails. Like some others we have visited, Cleland is an open park with minimal physical barriers rather than a traditional zoo with cages animals. Much of their critters actually have free-reign throughout the park. Here’s a picture on the main building.
We were checking out the park map just outside the building, which we had assumed to be before any of the critters. We were mistaken, because within a minute of arriving these little guys popped out of the bushes to check us out. The park lets you buy bags of pellets to feed the animals, and these guys knew it. They are called Potoroos (pronounced pot-or-roos). I don't care if they do look like giant rats, they are totally adorable. I’m pretty sure a couple followed us around during our visit because every so often 1 or 2 would pop out of the bushes looking for another hand-out.
Next we visited the Kangaroo/Wallaby section. They all look to be varying sizes and types of kangaroos, but I’m sure there are more distinct differences between the species. We got to pet and feed them all, including a super adorable baby wallaby! Greg wants a pet wallaby now. He insists the wallaby and kitties would be friends. Here are a couple pictures of him.
Also, it is a truism of nature that whenever you set apart some land for nature, it will be inevitably overrun by ducks.
So, I’ll just take a minute to tell you a few interesting facts about kangaroos. Even though the largest species are called Red Kangaroos, only the males tend to be red while the females are more of a blue-grey color. They are incredibly adaptable and even have the ability (and foresight) to stop breeding during times of extreme drought to protect their current numbers. That’s pretty clever for a critter! Here’s a bunch of other Kangaroo/Wallaby pictures.
We checked out the Wombat section, but as usual they were sleeping. They did have a glass wall in part of their sleeping cave so that we could see them. This is by far the closest we’ve gotten to a wombat. As always, they were facing butt first. Here’s one of them. There were 2 others in another window but I could get a picture because of the glare on the glass. Oh well, another Wombat fail. It’s apparently mating season, which is why 2 were together. I wonder if the other one felt like a 3rd wheel or was jealous.
Meet Hank the Koala. He was being a bit cranky that day because apparently the eucalyptus leaves his Keeper was trying to feed him were not up to his usual standards. Clearly this guy isn’t hurting for food. Nevertheless, he let us pet him and get a couple pictures. Thanks Hank!
Next we visited the bird section. There were so many beautiful and strange looking birds there. We also loved the giant pelicans. They were gracefully gliding across the water and making strange noises with their beaks. To do this, it looked as though the bottom portion of their beaks were fluttering and making ribbony movements. I’m sure that description means nothing but it was really interesting to watch.
There was also a cranky goose that was chasing everyone off, including a tiny Japanese woman tourist. Yep, she literally screamed and ran as he chased after her. He tried to chase me, but was not pleased when I didn’t run off. He then decided to chase off some other ducks and funny looking water birds to make up for his failure. This is him in the front. We have no idea what kind he is, but he’s certainly the most colorful goose we’ve ever seen.
Check out this crazy bird’s feet!
Dingoes! Yep, they pretty much look just like dogs. In fact, they’re at risk of becoming extinct not because of hunting or loss of habitat, but because they keep interbreeding with dogs. More Dingo facts! There is one theory that the reason that the Tasmanian Devil is only in Tasmania is that the dingoes are such good hunters and scavengers, the Devils were quickly out-competed and went extinct. The only reason they would still be in Tasmania is that by the time Dingoes came to Australia the land-bridge connecting Australia with Tasmania had already disappeared. In fact dingoes can, and do, eat everything from insects to full-grown kangaroos. Those are some powerful pups!
There's an expression for when it's really cold out- "It's a two dog night." This comes from the Aboriginals who tamed dingoes for, among other reasons, to help keep them warm at night. When it was exceptionally cold out, you needed a dog on either side of you to help stay warm.