Australia! After a flight on Scoot airline that was heaps of hours long, me mates and I have landed in Sydney (a careful pronunciation done by pulling the corners of the mouth wide on each vowel should create an approximation of the desired local accent). The first thing I noticed about Australia was their security. Not necessarily traditional security, but their attention to forbidding any food or biomaterial like seashells or sand from leaving the plane. Australia is far away from everything and an entirely unique environment sprang up here in isolation. Allowing too many foreign objects into the country might do irreparable harm such as when the introduction of two rabbits wiped out much of the countries vegetation in certain inland regions.
The next thing I noticed was Australia’s adaptability. The isolated environment not only forces Australians to be vigilant on what enters the nation, but the people themselves had to learn to adapt to the isolated world. Small things are reminders of their adaptability: such as the former Olympic stadium, now ANZ stadium that moves entire concourses in and out to accommodate different sporting events, or office meeting room tables that appear one unit but than can be broken apart and rolled away as individual pieces, or even the seat backs on the trains that can be flipped over to create a set of benches facing each other for large groups or flipped back to accommodate the needs of commuters minding their own business.
Now, it wouldn’t be a visit to Australia if I didn’t get to see any of the famous local wildlife. On Tuesday afternoon, a group of us caught a bus to the Koala Park on the outside of Sydney and even for the 28 AUD entry fee I was not disappointed… not by a long shot.
Children in the United States learn of Australian animals with a fantasy air surrounding them. Not only does the exotic nature of the animals like the kangaroo, a sort of overgrown mutation sized rabbit that hops around with a pouch to hold a baby, enchant children, but the wonderful names like a kookaburra and wallaby add to their otherworldliness. My excitement was still quite palpable once I got a chance to meet them as a young adult.
After that afternoon, I now have the pleasure of being able to recall: feeding a kangaroo, petting a koala, and placing a bearded dragon on my head. The park’s supervisor took a fondness to our group and ended up giving a rather unintentional guided tour of the park and got us closer to the animals and shared more details about them than I’m sure most guests ever get about just one animal enclosure. I think we got on the supervisor’s good side when we correctly knew koalas are not bears and didn’t fall for many of the other myths Americans confound him with like eucalyptus leaves making koalas high.