Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

When we docked in Brisbane on our cruise we took the aboriginal tour. People we talked to afterwards told us that we really missed something by not visiting the Koala Sanctuary. Well, on our round trip of Australia we decided to go back to this Sanctuary on our own. Having a car now allows us a lot of freedom and we can make choices.
We found a hotel for the first night of having a car and with a little hassle and backtracking, did find an ok place on the service road next to the highway leading out of Brisbane. Rated 3 stars it was not a posh place. Clean but simple. The receptionist was also the cook, bartender and waiter. No restaurant near by, but the motel cooks for you. They advertise this as having a restaurant. They also have a bar. This seems to be standard in Australia.
Each room has an electric hot water maker, tea bags, some cookies and the spoons, milk, sugar, knife, fork etc. for two. Within the room is a small counter that is set up like a kitchen. Very small, but just enough to eat a meal in the room. We stayed in other motels later on that have a restaurant on the premises, but as near Brisbane, the receptionist is also the cook and waiter most of the time. One pays to sleep. Food and anything else are extra charges. The regular going rate for a room is around $ 130 per night. We did find others later that were less, but we never found less than let's say $90/night. Eating out in Australia is expensive, a portion of food is always, it seems, around $20. Drinks, like lemonade or soda are $4. A salad $ 8 to 10. It adds up. Different from the U.S., no tipping in Australia.
After breakfast the next morning we were off to find the Koala Sanctuary. First stop was an electronic store were we bought a simple GPS. With the help of modern tech and with Carol's excellent map reading skills, we nailed the location on the first try. I really love a GPS. A job well done, Carol.
The roads seem different, narrower, and lots of traffic circles ( roundabouts). The signage to the Sanctuary was well placed however. Traffic in the morning hours is like anyplace in the world, heavy to frantic.
I don't like zoos. Yet this is a different place. Yes, set up like a zoo in a way, it takes in hurt animals, or youngsters that were abandoned or their parents were killed. It is a rescue place and specializes in koalas. Yet it also has some native species that are unique to Australia only. Wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, platypus (what's the plural of platypus?), emus, a cassowary, laughing kookaburras, dingoes, a Tasmanian devil, etc. Animals and birds I have heard about, yet how do you get to see them all while in Australia? This Sanctuary seemed the best place to do it all at once. Not only that but when possible we could get close enough to feed them. The 'Roos we met were so tame, feeding them was no problem. Being this close to a cassowary and looking it in the eyes, I don't know, this bird seems stupid to me. Oh, we had a good time at this place. I even fed a raptor, an owl. We saw a demonstration of work on an Australian sheep farm. I am just sorry I did not understand this guy, the 'Shepherd' too well. I am still struggling with the accent.
After having strolled around the Koala Sanctuary for about 4 hours it was time to move on. We decided to go deeper inland, climb up to the tabletop, see some of the outback while we have the car. Remember Lightning Ridge, the opal town? Well we found it on the map and it kind of fits what we were looking for, so off to NSW (New South Wales) we went. We drove until about dusk, then stopped at the town of Toowoomba for a well deserved rest. Again, a clean motel that would cook dinner for you. We had the choice of about a dozen motels, all right next to each other on the highway, not the American chain hotels, but mom and pop places. Still with so many choices the prices were as I quoted above. One of the nearby motels had a restaurant and we took advantage of that and ate there. It was strange that they had to ask the owner if it would be ok if 'non guests' ate in the motel restaurant. Normally the meal would just be added to the room price but since we were not guests, this bookkeeping would not work. We still charged the meal to a Visa card, but not to a room. We had to give them a name for their computer so they could make sense of it all. I guess visiting a restaurant from the motel next door is not done? I don't really know and don't really care, we had dinner. It was a good day, we slept like babies after our experiences. An observation, even though this area had about a dozen motels, there were no independent restaurants near by. Strange!

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