What a better way to start our Australia trip, if not by meeting the beloved Australian mascot? Despite having a very long and tiring journey, as we landed in Adelaide early in the morning, we decided that sleep could still wait a few hours, so we went from the airport directly to Cleland Wildlife Park to see the kangaroos. And it looked like they were expecting us, because on our way to the park we were greeted by a kangaroo, which was jumping freely along the road. You can’t imagine how thrilled we were to see our first kangaroo!
Feeding the Kangaroos
Armed with a map and a bag of kangaroo food, we entered the park and began searching for more kangaroos. We didn’t know exactly what to expect from this wildlife park, so when we realized that we are free to walk among the lovely marsupials, we were jumping with joy. And when the first kangaroo came to us and we could pet and feed it, we forgot all the tiredness and enjoyed the most amazing animal encounter we have ever had.
There were literally dozens of kangaroos, some of them jumping happily near us while others were resting under the trees. They were extremely friendly and curios and if you extended your hand with food, they would immediately come to see what you have for them.
The highlight of the day however, was seeing tiny joeys (baby kangaroos) sticking their heads out of their mothers’ pouches. And one time, when the mother bended over to nibble the grass, a baby kangaroo also leaned out of the pouch to do the same. It was the cutest thing ever!
Fact: A baby kangaroo is born after about a month of gestation, is barely bigger than a jelly bean and weighs less than 2 grams (I know it sounds unbelievable, I had to check multiple sources to believe it is true). Although it is so small and cannot see yet, instinctively it crawls to its mother’s pouch, where it will remain for the next 8-12 months, until it is ready to become independent.
We have seen also a red kangaroo, which is the biggest of all kangaroos, reaching up to 2 m when it stands upright. It was insistently courting a grey kangaroo female and seeing him so tall and muscular, we didn’t dare getting to close, as they are known for being aggressive sometimes.
Beside kangaroos, we have also met wallabies, which are smaller and softer and with their long tail look like giant rats, although cuter.
Another kangaroo-like marsupial you can spot in this wildlife park is the potoroo. It is often confused with a rat and honestly when we spotted one, we really thought it was a rat.
After a couple of hours spent among kangaroos and other animals, we had to say goodbye to our new friends, but as we enjoyed so much this experience, a few days later, we decided to make a pit stop on our way from Melbourne to Phillip Island at another wildlife park: Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park.
At first, we were a bit disappointed, as it was raining and the park was considerably smaller than the one from Adelaide, but as soon as we spotted the kangaroos and wallabies and started playing with them, we couldn’t care less about the rain or anything else.
Other endemic Australian animals
The kangaroos may be the most sociable, but there are also other animals that are native to Australia and we were able to see in these wildlife parks.
For example, there is the fluffy koala, which although often wrongly called koala bear, is in fact a marsupial. It lives in eucalyptus forests, eats only gum leaves and sleeps for about 18-20 hours per day.
The dingo, a combination between a dog and a wolf, is one of Australia’s most dangerous animals. To keep the dingo away from livestock, the Australians built in the southeastern part of the country the longest fence in the world, measuring around 6000 kilometers.
We have also spotted a wombat, the Tasmanian Devil (which was running too fast and we couldn’t take a picture of it), emus and other types of birds, some that are only living in Australia while others are well-known around the globe.