Steve Irwin Zoo
The Crocodile Hunter is one of Australia’s icons who passed away a few years ago after being stung by a sting ray. He was a huge promoter of the crocodile, especially the salt water crocodile, and he created a sanctuary for them on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. The zoo is now called the Australia Zoo and we specifically passed on the zoos in Melbourne and Sydney to go to this one because of one thing in particular; you can actually pet the animals! We gave ourselves one day between our stay in Byron Bay and our time on Fraser Island, which starts tomorrow, to get to the zoo. Who would have known that a cyclone was going to hit Australia just a day before the one we chose?
We sat in Byron Bay on Friday thinking that we would just have a free day and no way the weather would allow us to make the trip to the zoo worthwhile. The weather man was saying that we would have heavy downpours all day and the zoo website said that the zoo was closed on Friday due to flooding throughout the park. When I awoke in the morning the skies in Byron Bay were really nice and I realized that I should get everyone up and ready to leave to get to the zoo by noon or so. Ilise got the kids up while we started to load the car and empty the frig. We got in the car around 9:30 and started on our journey, 2 hours and 47 minutes according to the GPS, but the time of our destination was an hour earlier. What was going on? We found out tonight that Queensland does not observe daylight savings so they are in the same time zone but it is an hour earlier this time of year than it is in Sydney. Come March they will be on the same time, similar to Arizona in the US. So, that confusion is solved, we didn’t cross any time zones on our trip due north!
We drove for about 2 hours in a steady downpour and sometimes it was torrential and hard to see. The whole way I was thinking that there was no way we would get to the zoo and be able to see anything, no less stay dry! We turned off to get to the zoo and the road to the zoo was not only flooded, the actual road was washed away and would probably be closed for days after the water goes down. The police told us to go back to the highway and head north to the next exit and come in a bit further north, so we did. The road was not blocked and we got to the zoo with a HUGE river flowing across the driveway into the zoo. The person at the gate said just drive through the river and turn into the parking lot and they would shuttle us across the water into the park, which we did. She said that 100% of the zoo was open and welcome.
We entered the park and for the next 3 plus hours that we visited it didn’t rain at all, I mean not at all! In the end, we saw everything we wanted to see and more, and nobody was there to get in our way. We saw the main show when we arrived, the koala show an hour later, the crocodile show after that and the bird of prey show before heading out. The highlight of the visit, besides getting there, was the opportunity to hold the koala bears. Not only did they let us hold them, they took our pictures for free and gave us copies before we left! Ilise has always dreamed about holding a koala and that is why we went to this zoo, so it happened. Even better for me is that she realized that they smell pretty bad and they have really sharp claws, so no koala pets at the Kesslin home in San Diego 🙂
After the zoo we headed to our AirBnB for the night, went to town to pick up some dinner and had a really nice chat with the home owners, Kathy and Steve. Tonight is an early night and tomorrow we head to the ferry for Fraser Island about 2 hours north of where we are tonight. Looking forward to a few days on what many people say is the Hawaii of Australia. Fraser Island is supposed to be beautiful. Hopefully the cyclone didn’t cause much damage to the island. Another day complete, and a great one at that.
To a life well lived!