Going down undahh Part 2 ~ Koala and Kangaroos

22nd April 2012 – It was already 9 a.m. when we woke up. It was bright and sunny outside and the weather is forecasted to be good all day. An outdoor activity – a trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary would be just perfect. We skipped breakfast and head to the city to catch the bus to the sanctuary.

If you want to take the bus to Lone Pine from Brisbane you could do so by taking bus number 445 that leaves from bus stop 40 at Adelaide Street or bus number 430 that leaves from Platform B4, Queen Street bus station. I’ve got this information from the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary website.

I chose to take the bus from Adelaide Street because it’s nearer. It took us more or less 30 minutes to walk from our hostel to bus stop 40. The bus time table indicates that the next bus to Lone Pine is in 10 minutes at 11.10 a.m. So we waited…its 11.15 a.m, tick tock tick tock 11.20 a.m, tick tock tick tock hmmm…. still no sight of bus 445. I checked the bus time table again and oopss!! Bus 445 to Lone Pine does not service this stop on Sunday. Geezzz how did i miss that! There was no other choice, so head to Queens Street bus station, which is 2 blocks away. We came across and visited the tourist information centre. We bought the entrance tickets to Lone Pine here as they offered 10% off from the normal price. By the time we arrived at the bus terminal, it was already 11.40 a.m. and we had just missed bus 430 to Lone Pine. The next bus is at 12.30 p.m. So we decided to grab brunch at the food court above the terminal ~ chicken kebab with rice for me and chicken kebab in wrap for my friend. We had wasted a couple of hours for failing to get the earlier bus to Lone Pine but were still in high spirit.

12.30 p.m. sharp bus 430 made its way to Lone Pine. The journey took about 45 minutes. Luckily we had already bought the entrance tickets and avoided the long queue at the sanctuary. I have promised to meet up with my nephew later that day. So we planned to spend about 2 hours at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and catch the 3.30 p.m bus back to the city. High on our agenda was to see the koalas and kangaroos, two of Australian’s wildlife premier icon.

As we entered the wildlife sanctuary, we were greeted by a noisy bird that looks like a turkey. Suddenly my friend starts jumping and running away. Then I saw an iguana crawling under the bushes. A few other visitors start to freak out too. Nothing to be alarmed as the iguana looked harmless and was going about doing its own things.

Our first stop was the southern zone. It was my 1st sighting of marsupial we called koala. They looked like a cuddly teddy bear. There were 3 koalas, two of them holding tightly to the tree branch and probably sleeping. The third one was walking up and down, not bothered at all by the many visitors. Then we went to the retirement home. By the name, this is where the “oldies” are kept. They must be the “star” of the sanctuary once, and doesn’t mind to entertain the visitors with picture perfect pose. Then we went to the kindergarten section where the cute young koalas are kept. It is interesting to see them playing, rolling and give each other a massage. Finally we arrived at the koala cuddling section. You need to pay AUD$16 to cuddle a koala and get your photo taken. This is above the entrance fee of AUD$33 (AUD$30 if you buy from tourist information centre at Queens Street). I know this may sound expensive, but it’s once in a lifetime experience and we cannot resist ourselve not to cuddle the cute koala. I did feel ashamed because we were as excited as the young children queuing for this experience…hahah! I think the koala that I cuddled likes me…;P. We collected our koala photos from the souvenir shop and bought some koala souvenirs for friends at home and a packet of kangaroos munchies for our next adventure up close with Australian wildlife. 

In Lone Pine there are 2 types of kangaroos; the red kangaroos and the grey kangaroos. Entering the kangaroo reserve, we saw two wombats soundly sleeping in its burrow. There’s also the emu and ostrich. The kangaroos are allowed to roam freely in the reserve. They seem to know that when there’s visitors there’s food. We went to a group of kangaroos who are just lying on the grass. Two quickly stand up and came nearer to us. My friend quickly pulled out the munchies and they eagerly waited to be fed. I put some of the pellets on my palm and fed one of the kangaroos. Yikes! He used his toungue which was full of saliva to eat the pellets from my palm.

After the feast, we realised that one of them has a baby in its pocket. Only the legs were jutting out…must be sleeping….after about 15 minutes, the head pop out…I was so thrilled and no words can described that moment….it was really incredible. I guessed it’s probably mating season, we could see male kangaroos fighting over a female and a couple happily cuddling each other. In another group, a mother breastfeeding its kid and one male kangaroo was soundly sleeping and just didn’t want to be disturbed.

It was a bit unfortunate we couldn’t stay longer to see some of the other attractions at Lone Pine. But I wouldn’t want to miss the 3.30 pm bus to the city. Anyway I had promised my nephew to meet up for dinner and handover all the stuffs my sister bought for him. For first timer in Australia and if you are in Brisbane, do not miss to visit this place. It would be great for kids too.

Accessible Wild Australia

In Australia, it is very easy to get close and encounter Australia’s “wildlife”. During my vacation down under in 2012, I had an opportunity to see and get up close with koalas and kangaroos at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is only 45 minutes by bus from the city of Brisbane. Near the coast there are very high chance to come across with seabirds and the pretty colorful lorikeet. We even had three wild kangaroos crossing right infront of our car when we were at Hydeaway Bay Whitsundays. Luckily we were on sightseeing mode and was driving very slowly.  At the Sydney Royal Botanical Garden, you can see cockatoos and the fruit bats in abundance. And don’t be surprised if the cameleon is lurking under the bushes to say hello. The sight of underwater world at the Hardy Reef will surely make the trip to the Great Barrier Reef worth every single penny. Swimming among the school of fishes, seeing the nemo, giant clams and colorful corals will stay in my memory for a very long time.

Going Down Undahh ~ Part 1

 21st April 2012 – It was 7.30 a.m. when we made our way to the airport for a 2 week vacation down under. Once we arrived at the airport, we went straight to the departure hall for check-in. OMG…the snake queue for check-in is very long. Glad that we still have 1 1/2 hours before departure time. By the time the nice lady gave us our boarding pass, there’s still about 1 hour left. We decided to go straight to the gate. The process through custom, immigration and security went smoothly. My travel buddy made a detour to the duty free shop to get her cheap stock of cigarettes. It’s 9.00 a.m. and we haven’t had breakfast…my stomach starts to sing loudly. By 9.15 a.m. we were called to board flight MH135 to Brisbane.

The flight to Brisbane from Kuala Lumpur takes 8 hours. We make ourselves comfortable, tucking in the pillow and blanket nicely and checked the available in flight entertainment. 10 minutes after take-off, the captain made an announcement that meal will be served in 45 minutes. It’s about time. I think even those in the back seat could hear my stomach rumbling. I watched the latest Mission Impossible movie while keenly wait for the meal to be served. I opted for “nasi lemak” special Malaysian breakfast rice cooked with coconut milk and chicken curry instead of beef and omelet.

After we had finished our meal, the cabin crew distributed the Australian arrival and custom cards that we need to fill up. There’s the standard questions like flight origin, your next port of departure, reasons for coming to Australia, how long you will be in the country etc. etc. The customs card asked more specific questions like whether you bring in drugs or medicines, food, money equivalent to more than AUD$10,000 etc. etc. The best thing is to answer the questions correctly and truthfully so if you are asked the same questions on arrival you will be able to give a consistent answer. This is our first time to Australia. Friends and family members who had been here have warned us that the Australian customs used dogs to sniff at you and your bags. And we are quite paranoid with the big breed such as Rottweiler and Alsatian. Those foods that contain dairy products would be confiscated. Those foods that were not packed properly would also be confiscated. To be asked to open your bags is common in Australian airport. So we are mentally prepared for this.

The time difference between Malaysia and Australia is only 2 hours. I choose not to sleep. After the MI movie, it’s game time. Bejeweled and Sudoku took their turns and when my legs felt tired sitting, I just walked around the cabin, chatted with the cabin crew and asked for water and peanuts.

Flight MH135 from KUL to BNE safely landed at Brisbane International Airport at 7.37 p.m., 8 minutes earlier than schedule. Immigration clearance was quick. While waiting for our baggage at the baggage claim carousel, customs officers asked to look at our custom card. They circled at some of the questions. Once we had our bags, we had to walk through the custom check lane. There are a few custom officers waiting to ask you questions. Those passengers in front of us were asked to go to the tables to open their bags. We saw only a small dog (not sure about the breed though) sniffing around. When it’s time for my turn, the officer asked me what type of drugs you brought in. I said they are medicines for my asthma and motion sickness. What type of food did you bring in? I said in brought along some instant noodles, canned food and spices to be given to my nephew who’s studying at Queensland University. And the customs officer said ok and asked me to go straight for the exit. Then it’s my travel buddy turn to be questioned by the custom officer. From her face she looked worried. She quickly said to the officer I’m the same with her. We travel together. The officer said go on then.  We just cannot believe our luck…no dog sniffing and opening of bags.

Taking the coach to the city center will cost us about AUD$33 and we need to wait for another 1 hour. So we decided to get a cab instead. It was a good decision indeed. The traffic was smooth and the cab cost us AUD$40. By 8.45 p.m. we are already checked in at our 4 bed dorm at YHA Brisbane City. My nephew had promised to meet up at the hostel at 9 p.m. So we waited at the hostel reception. Hmmm….it’s already 9.45 p.m. and he had not turned up. Feeling very hungry again we decided to look for a fast food outlet for a quick bite. Unfortunately they were all closed. We walked down for almost 1 km before we bumped into 7-Eleven, a 24 hour convenience store. We bought some bread and orange juice. I told my travel partner, looks like we going to have instant noodle tonight.

Back at the hostel, there’s still no sight of my nephew. We prepared our instant noodle for dinner at the hostel kitchen. There’s a great view of Brisbane city from the roof terrace. Later at the dorm, I switched on my mobile. My nephew did message that he was here at 10.45 p.m but I was at the kitchen. I messaged back to him that we meet up tomorrow for dinner at the city centre.

Brisbane city as seen from the YHA roof terrace

Brisbane city as seen from YHA roof terrace

Our 4 bed dorm is quite small and a bit crammed. I’m glad I was able to get the lower bunk. Our dorm mates are asleep, so we quietly put our things away and go to bed. It has been a long day.