Saturday, July 09, 2011

Day Ten: Caversham

Today we spent the afternoon with David's college friend, Andrew, and his wife, Denise, who has become my Facebook friend since their visit to San Diego a couple years ago. They have two daughters, Jasmine and Jade, who are the perfect age for Jarrah, so it's a really convivial set-up.

We met them at Caversham Wildlife Park, which is located in a much larger recreational area called Whiteman Park less than half an hour from David's childhood home. We had lunch in the park's cafe and it wasn't half-bad (a running theme I've noticed is that amusement park food in Australia is downright palatable) and watched the tram go by, also considering the playground and the steam train for later. That stuff never happened, but only because we were plenty busy within Caversham itself.

First, we went to a Farm Show. I wasn't sure what this would involve, but having been to the Del Mar Fair, I was thinking pig races. I was wrong. I actually got to see some things I've never seen before, and I was quite riveted. First were the Australian keltie dogs "mustering" a group of sheep (there was a field right behind the open-air barn where we were seated) which is like herding them. It was totally crazy--I wasn't sure whether to laugh or wince, so I did both. Then our host actually actually sheared an entire sheep in our presence and later we got to feel the pile of wool--super-soft, and very greasy from the natural lanolin. Then we had a demonstration of how to crack a whip (I'm talking a BIG whip) and the sound of it scared me senseless. A couple people tried, one of them successfully. Jarrah got to go up there, ostensibly to milk a cow, but then she and three other children were handed bottles and told they'd be having a milk-drinking contest in front of all of us. No sooner could one of the kids yelp, "I'm allergic to milk!" then four tiny lambs burst onto the scene and started slurping down the bottles. Cow-milking was the grand finale.

As if all that wasn't enough, we saw super-cute guinea pigs, bunnies, donkeys, llamas and pigs, and got to pet goats, sheep and deer, on the way to the "Wombat and Friends" demo. I'm not sure that Big Bubs the wombat is actually friends with the owl and skink we saw first, but I will candidly confess I got to fulfil my lifelong dream of petting a wombat. Yes, Readers, he felt awesome. He was a Hairy-Nosed Wombat, and his belly felt like rabbit fur. He actually fell asleep from all our pets.

And the wonders didn't end there. There was koala-petting, and dingo-peeping, and eating ice cream lollies in the picnic area, where the girls got to go a bit crazy, with the running and the zombie impressions. Finally, we went into the kangaroo enclosure, which was ginormous and full of dozens of soft, sweet, slow kangaroos, and even better--a massive garbage bin filled with kangaroo yummies so we could feed them at our leisure. Now that I think about it, we were the only ones in there. And I got a pretty big thrill seeing not one but THREE teeny-tiny joeys peeking out of pouches. I must say that does not seem near as comfortable for the mama as they make it look in the manufacture of plush toys.

All too soon we were saying our goodbyes to our friends, even though we'd actually been together six hours. I was really impressed with Cavesham--it was a beautiful place and I loved how much contact we had with the animals.


Jen said...

Oh my goodness, I had no idea wombats were so big!!!! Adorable. What a fun day.

Anonymous said...

G & I laughed out loud when we read "I will candidly confess I got to fulfil my lifelong dream of petting a wombat."

Love it! And love YOU!!


Mary said...

Respectfully request a wombat in your suitcase for me, as well as the quokka.

I am JEALOUS of your wombat visit!