Okay so lets talk about Townsville. It sucks and it’s boring and there’s one semi nice thing to do which is hike Castle Hill and it’s not fun (we all know how I feel about exerting myself on holiday).
Okay, we’re done talking about Townsville and now we can move on to the Billabong Sanctuary. I would say this is the only good thing about Townsville, but it’s not even in Townsville, it’s just outside of Townsville. Thank god, because this amazing place doesn’t deserve to have its good name marred by being a part of such a shitty place. Yes, I hate Townsville, it’s boring, small, the manager at my hostel was rude as, and the only good thing I did was go to the sanctuary, so go there. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk. (I feel like that was a little aggressive, butttttt yeah sorry I guess)
I do have more to say. Not about Townsville, that’s all I’ve got, but the sanctuary? Oh lawd, that was flipping awesome. So I kind of did this the expensive way because I didn’t want to be limited to a specific time, hindsight, it would have been literally so okay if I had just been budget friendly. So there’s a bus transfer that is available from any accommodation in Townsville. The bus picks up starting at 8:45 and returns at 3:15; it costs $60 for adults, $43 for kids, and $55 for backpackers (if you show proof of your hostel) and students. So, there were two main reasons I didn’t take this rockin deal, seeing as how the cost included entry to the sanctuary which was $37 for adults ($33.50 for backpackers), meaning the transfer was around $22. So a taxi is around $60 one way for a 4-passenger car, and an Uber cost $40 one way. Okay, so reason number one was that I needed to book the transfer the day before by 4 pm. I was holding out hope that I’d meet a few other backpackers that might want to go with me and by the time I finally decided that I should go either way, it was too late. The other reason was that there was a particular ‘interactive experience’ I was not planning on missing, which occurred just before the bus was scheduled to head back to town. So, being the OCD person that I am, even though I emailed the sanctuary asking if I’d be able to still participate and they said yes, I decided that was cutting it too close and I didn’t want to do so. Luckily for me, I met a nice Canadian girl who wanted to go to the sanctuary as well, so we split the cost of an Uber. We both forgot to get a card from the hostel though in order to capitalize on the cheaper price, so we had to pay full price. Bummer. When we were paying the lady at the front asked if we wanted to buy some kangaroo food for $2 as well. Uhm, DUH. I wanna feed some kangaroos. Heck yeah. Armed with our kangaroo food and maps, we strolled into the sanctuary. The excitement was palpable.
Throughout the day at Billabong there are a bunch of different shows and interactive experiences. They’re actually all scheduled in such a way that you don’t even really need to do the park yourself, you just can bounce from show to show because they’re all kind of back to back. There’s koala feeding, turtle feeding, wombat, koala, and reptile experiences, croc feeding, bird show, kangaroo feeding, dingo experience, all sorts of magical stuff.
We arrived just in time to watch the wombat experience, and holy cow, color me ignorant because I had no idea wombats were so flipping huge.
Massive. Seriously. They did an informative talk about the wombats, and then we were able to take selfies
(as you do) and pat the wombat bum. Fun fact, wombats have bums of steel and they can literally kill with them. The example we were given at the sanctuary is, if a dingo has started chasing, and the wombat runs into it’s burrow, it’ll keep its bum sticking out a little ways. The dingo can be scratching at their bum, but there’s very few nerve endings and they’ll barely feel it. Then, they’ll open up a little space, the dingo will probably think it can squeeze in, stick it’s head in, and the wombat will slam it’s bum back and could potentially kill the dingo, at the very least giving it a nice little headache. So yeah, watch out for the wombat bum, it can kill.
We went straight from the wombat experience to go to the koala experience. The experience was very informative, but we obviously were kind of distracted by the idea of getting to hold a koala and take a photo.
So I definitely remember some information about them, due to my diligence at being a good student, but I was admittedly a little too stoked about cuddling a koala. Now even though I was so enamored by the koalas that I basically just sat there staring at them and their cute fluffy-ness, there are a few things I remember – 1. Koalas are related to wombats. 2. They prefer to eat the younger leaves on a plant because they are the softer, easier to chew leaves and koalas only have one set of teeth so they need to treat them well. 3. There are around 900 forms of eucalyptus in Australia, koalas only feed on around 40-50 of those. Picky eaters, aye? I can relate. 4. Most koalas do, in fact, have chlamydia. 5. That’s actually all I can remember right now, sue me. They were way too cute, I was extremely busy paying attention to the koalas and not the ranger because I’m a child. I’m sure more will come to me out of whatever black hole information goes into in my mind, but by then it’ll be too late for this purpose. Wikipedia it if you’d like. We all know wiki won’t hold up in school, but I’m not getting tested on this so if I’m being entirely candid, I don’t really care. Anyway, we did hold them and oh my god it was the best minute of my life.
Minor exaggeration but that’s fine. It cost extra, of course, but he was so fluffy and soft and cuddly and I just can’t even handle it. Number one tourist thing to do in Oz, checked off the list. Me and the little man had a moment too, he didn’t want to leave me, he loved me, obviously I could tell. Anyway, he was taken away from me just as quickly as he was given, leaving me lost, and confused, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sadly turned and began walking from the koala enclosure, looked up, and…dreams came true.
There is a God. No, you have no idea. DINGOES. THiS IS ALL I CARE ABOUT. Have I mentioned my dog yet? No? Oh lord well let me tell you all about her! She’s a three legged angel, and also is part dingo. SO, the dingoes were the main attraction here for me. Yes, even over the koalas and kangaroos, all I cared about was seeing dingoes. And here the angels were, on their daily walk-about around the sanctuary. This was the best day ever. I had a total moment and squealed. I was still a ways away from them and the rangers heard my squeal, they looked around for a second before laying eyes on me. A certified crazy person, hands to my mouth, pure joy in my eyes, entire body tensed, ready for action. Needless to say they looked a little cautious when I threw my hands down to my sides and started aggressively power walking in their direction. It took a lot to not run at full speed. Once I got to the dingoes and their rangers, word vomit spilled out of me “ohmygawdhiohmygoooooddddddddhi*breath*ilovedingoesi’mobsessedwiththempleasemayi*breaaaaaaaath*pleAsemAyIPETHIMPLEASEEEEEEE”. Now I tell you what, first off, if that was hard to read, good, then you understand the broke ass sentence I threw at the rangers in a botched attempt to act normal and ask if I could pet the dingoes. And second, the rangers were, understandably, a little wary of me. One of them dipped out and left her coworker with me in a true abandonment moment that I have 1000% pulled on my friends, family, and coworkers before. I dropped as soon as King, the dingo, started wagging his tail at me and come over for pets;
partially out of pure excitement, and partially because I couldn’t physically hold my own weight anymore seeing as how I was in literal heaven and I felt like passing out. King was loving it, he came in for snuggles and pets and gave me a little kiss on the nose, I melted. Anyway, the ranger did remind us to attend the dingo experience later that day and I very enthusiastically informed her that I would be there, and then I grudgingly allowed her to move along.
We turned to leave and saw kangaroos. WHAT EVEN, BEST DAY EVER. We hurried over to the roos and pulled out our food and proceeded to love on these two guys hangin here.
So cute, literally I was starting to short circuit. I was so happy. But, alas, the roos did eventually decide to move along and we decided to do some wandering around the sanctuary until the next experience which was the crocodile feeding. We saw cassowaries, emus, snakes, wallabies, crocs, some cool birds, tons of turtles, and of course the dingoes again —
How hard was it to tell how obsessed with dingoes?
Anyway, once it was time we wandered over to the croc experience and good lord, it was cool. Crocs are sooooo creepy! First of all, they always know what’s happening around them, okay? They have a type of jelly sensory thing happening which makes it so they can sense vibrations around them, meaning they can pinpoint where you’re coming from and where you are. Also, they can creep up on you without a sound and with barely any ripple on the water, so creepy.
Also, crocs can go a year before eating again, this means that they will happily wait for the right circumstances. CREEPY. But so cool. So, that being said, crocs don’t need to learn your habits, they know what’s going on, they know where you are. We got to watch the crocs do some jaw snaps which were crazy,
The ranger said that one wasn’t even that loud comparatively; and we got to see different kinds of crocs – e.g. salt water
and fresh water.
After the crocodile feeding we headed to a kangaroo enclosure that you were able to go in of your own free will. It was basically a little petting zoo with kangaroos, and it was amazing. We spent like, 45 minutes in this little area, going from roo to roo, taking all of our photos and videos and obsessing and letting them eat out of our hands and oh dear it was just so terribly amazing. I gotta tell ya, kangaroos do appreciate a nice little scratch,
and there was one kangaroo that kept grabbing our arms to keep us from walking away from him. So cute. They did eventually realize the bag yielded more than our hands did so….
I never wanted to leave, but I did eventually end up running out of food for them, so we finally decided to wander out and find some hand sanitizer since we were covered in kangaroo spit, and I don’t know if that’s bad or not but, we figured we didn’t want to mess with that. From there we caught the end of the bird show, didn’t learn a thing, but got there just in time for the photo ops.
After the bird show was the turtle feeding/racing. Now, a turtle race, at any other point in time in my life, would be the most amazing thing in the world. What? Turtle racing? That sounds so stupid amazing, are you serious? Of course I want that in my life. However, we were dangerously close to the dingo experience and I would only miss that if it was a matter of life and death, meaning I would have to be dead. Not just dying, because if I was simply in the process of dying, I would still spend those 30 minutes at the dingo experience before moving on to either the hospital or the morgue. Anyway, being the diligent teachers pet that I am, I of course planned on being early. So we watched the ranger feed them
then skipped the rest and went straight back to the dingo enclosure, where I fawned over the beautiful pups for ten minutes before the rangers showed up with a group of people trailing behind, also excited for the dingo experience.
Let’s talk about these people for a second, they were all children. Children and their guardians. I had flashbacks to going to Incredibles 2 and wanting to elbow all of these children out of my way because age before beauty am I right? So yeah, I’m immature and I wanted to ‘pet the doggy’ just as badly as the four year old next to me who was about to throw an absolute fit.
I tried really hard to pay attention to the ranger talking about the dingoes, but they had made a little hide and seek game with food for them all over the closure and I was hideously distracted watching them be such good little hunters while she was talking.
Heckin good pups. I do specifically remember her talking about one of the main differences between dingoes and dogs, which is that dingoes are double jointed, which makes it possible for them to ‘climb’ decently high. Also if you have the sound on that short clip has a few of the differences listed by the ranger. (If it even uploaded, honestly the hostel WiFi is so bad I can’t even)
But, the most important thing was next and that was where we got to pet and get photos with them. So the rangers brought out two of the three, King and Killari and we got to pet and play with King while taking photos of the little miss. King did an insane job of looking too much like my pup back home,
while Killari apparently also could tell I needed the love because she gave me a little nuzzle and kiss too and I absolutely melted.
The time spent with these angels was much too short and I was daydreaming about it for the rest of the day. We had seen everything by that point for the most part, and decided to call for an Uber and look around the gift shop while we waited. I almost bought literally 10 postcards with King on them and talked myself out of doing that at the last minute. “No Zoe…ZOE…..Do you NEED 10 post cards with the exact same picture of King on them? No. I know you WANT them but do you NEED them? Zoe, I did not raise you this way. ZOE……….NO.” I compromised in the end and only got five. And two 3-D cards as well, because I am very convincing. Anyway we picked up our pro photos of us with koalas and then my phone informed me that my Uber driver was there, so we trotted out, smiles on our faces, koala photos in our backpacks, and joy in our hearts. What a great day. If you’re ever in Townsville, I am truly sorry for you. Truly, but fret not, the Billabong Sanctuary and all of its wonders and happiness are a short drive away, and heading there for the day will make up for anything that Townsville could possibly do to you.