Making our way west from Sydney toward Melbourne, we decided to head a little off route to visit Phillip Island just southeast of Melbourne. Our trusty guidebook highlighted a couple of interesting wildlife opportunities – one in particular where you could interact with and feed kangaroos, wallabies and emus. The brochures highlight the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Centre and opportunities to see Australian Fur Seals just off the coast. Since we’d seen a similar parade of penguins in Oamuru and fur seals in NZ, we were interested in seeing koalas and roos.
We visited the Phillip Island Wildlife Park – despite the information centre staff providing us with misinformation and trying to steer us toward the Koala Centre. (We later learned that there is some serious kick back action happening with the other places.) It turned out to be a definite highlight of our Aussie experience so far!
We were greeted by clever and very cute little wallabies that know you receive a free bag of food with your admission. We saw koalas munching on eucalyptus leaves, dingoes salivating at any animal that walked past, and a pacing Tasmanian Devil (who later settled down for a nice nap). Sorry kids they don’t look like the cartoon character, but they are certainly cute – in funny looking way. We saw lots of interesting and crazy birds of prey and were followed around by a cult of emus who just knew we had some food in our pockets.
The most amazing part was walking down into the scrub where the kangaroos roam. It was approaching mid-day and pretty hot, so there was not a lot of activity. We spotted one checking us out. It seemed much more cautious than the wallabies that hop over to you without hesitation. The kangaroo in question scratched itself, made a couple of small, very slow steps in our direction, then Hop! Hop! Hop! There it was right in front of us. Pretty crazy! It ate gently from our hands as we stared in awe. After a while others perked up and came over to investigate. It was at times a little intimidating as they move pretty quickly and naturally will be territorial about food, but it was also quite awesome!