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Billabong Sanctuary - Hold Koalas and Wombats and Feed Kangaroos
If you are a wildlife enthusiast like I am and are traveling to Queensland, Australia, you won’t get around visiting the Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville, a town in the dry tropics which lies 1.300 km (810 mi) north of Brisbane and 350 km (220 mi) south of Cairns. It lies adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world that can even be seen from space.
Holding a wombat
When you arrive in Townsville, it’s advisable to rent a car as the Billabong Sanctuary lies 17 km outside of the city center. You can also take a taxi or catch a bus which you must book a day in advance and is probably the cheapest way to get to the sanctuary. The bus will pick you pup at 9am and take you back to Townsville at 3pm, so you will be able to experience the entire program at Billabong Sanctuary.
Holding a koala
Billabong has beautiful surroundings, a big lake, lots of shade provided by big trees and kangaroos jumping around everywhere. Some of them even have little joeys. The first thing I saw when I entered the park was an adult kangaroo and a large group of ducks on a path. It was thrilling to see an animal you have known all your life from pictures and videos for real. The park sells little bags with food for the kangaroos and ducks. The kangaroos are well informed of the contents of those little bags and they even nudge you or follow you around to get more food. Feeding a kangaroo is a little like feeding a horse, only that a kangaroo has a smaller mouth and eats more slowly.
Koalas waiting for their beloved Eucalyptus leaves
If you go to the koala enclosures at around 9am you will see some really nervous koalas obviously waiting for something. The koalas know their feeding times by heart and impatiently climb around on their trees. Finally the rangers come with their beloved Eucalyptus leaves which they happily start munching. Pretty soon, you will see a lot of lazy koalas sitting inside their leaves dozing and relaxing. The eucalyptus leaves have a limited nutritional content and low calories which is why koalas sleep close to 20 hours a day and never move too much.
My absolute favorite Australian experience was holding a Koala. Only in two Australian states you are legally permitted to hold a Koala: South Australia and Queensland. As Australia is a huge country, you are best off to travel by plane to the destination where you can find a koala sanctuary that offers this opportunity. At Billabong Sanctuary, you will get to hold a koala at 11:15 and get your picture taken for 18 dollars. The pictures are high quality and a purchase is definitely worth it. The rangers will make sure to limit the time the koala is handled by the public. The day I was there the koala was outside his enclosure for around 20 minutes. The ranger explained how to hold the koala, telling us we would have the function of a tree and the koala would cling to us and we would only need to support his bottom and hug him. I could have held the little koala lady forever, it was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had in relation to animals.
Koalas waiting for food
You can equally hold a wombat which is the closest living relative of a Koala. A grown wombat will be around 20 kg and much heavier than a koala. You can also witness the crocodile feeding at Billabong and hold baby crocodiles. There is a free flight bird show, a chance to meet dingos from up close, a turtle feeding session and turtle races.
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Ecotourism at Billabong
Billabong Sanctury is a great destination for tourists keen on ecotourism. It grows its on Eucalyptus trees nearby and raises its own insects, rats, mice and chicken for feeding its animals. Wastewater is treated in Biosystem tanks and grey water is used for irrigation. The education of visitors plays a big role during the entire programs. Rangers inform tourists about the animals characteristics, their habitat, predators and methods of protection from destructive human behaviour. Billabong also works together with James Cook University on research programs and conservation.
Don’t miss the opportunity to get to know the Australian wildlife from up close. Billabong will provide you with a unique experience and a day you won’t ever forget.