Yesterday, I visited Healsville Sanctuary, which is about 45 minutes drive north and east of Melbourne (many thanks to Cecile Whatman and her husband for taking me!). Also along on this trip were fellow artist Judy Coates Perez and Alison Green, a New Zealander who lived in Charlotte for a time; I met her through the Charlotte Quilters' Guild and it has been great meeting up with her here.
Note: to see photos better, please click on each for a larger/clearer view.
The Sanctuary is very involved with fighting the extinction of several of Australia's native animals. Unfortunately, it was raining, and my good camera with the long lens refused to work properly -- aaaaagh! -- but I tried to make the best of the photo situation and used my pocket camera most of the time.
Lush, tropical foliage made me feel a bit like I had stepped onto the set of a dinosaur movie.
I stuffed my purse and two cameras under my coat and smiled in the rain:
The animal hospital:
These spent blooms looked like corn cobs; I think this is a type of bottle brush:
NOTE: Upon further research, I think this is a type of Banksia. They are part of a family of flowering plants found in the Southern Hemisphere, which is why I had never seen them before. The family is called Proteaceae, and include Proteas (which I saw in profusion in South Africa last summer), Banksias, Grevilleas, and Waratahs. There are about 1600 species of Proteaceae, including one variety that produces Macademia nuts!
Not sure what this beauty is; perhaps one of my Aussie friends can identify it.
Next, it was on to the main attraction (for me, at least! My daughter loves platypi, and I was keen to get some photos for her). This huge sculpture marks the entrance to the platypus area:
This is the best shot I got of the platypus. It was a thrill to see one and watch it frolic, much like our river otter:
A sleepy koala huddled against the rain:
My friend Alison feeding the birds:
And one perching on Judy Coates Perez's camera!
An artistic bathroom:
River with platypus ironwork:
Enormous gum trees:
Entrance to the sanctuary:
Kangaroo (a think they are red kangaroo, despite the fact that some of them look more gray than red):
Sleeping Tasmanian Devil:
Flying Fox bats:
Today I spent in Melbourne; I'll post those photos when I get home. I fly out tomorrow morning, and arrive in LA about the same time, having taken a 15 hour flight, and passing through 14 time zones! I have so loved my time in this beautiful country full of friendly, fun-loving people. I hope to come back again!