A while ago we noticed that our wee SP is fascinated by animals (but if you ask her, dogs, cats, birds, kangaroos all say 'oof oof oof'). Since then, we've been making noises about taking her to see some animals. Quite nearby is Cleland Wildlife Park. D had never been, and I haven't been since I was a child. This afternoon we went on a ten minute drive up the hill for a visit. It was a good day to go since it wasn't raining, but it was quite cold and only got colder as the afternoon wore on (Cleland is practically on Mount Lofty, our highest mountain at 727m [don't laugh! It's a petite mountain] and it's maximum today was only nine degrees Celcius.)Right inside the park we were greeted by some of it's littlest residents. Don't ask me if they are bettongs or bandicoots; I can never remember the difference. They ate the food pellets straight from our hands, leaving little damp dots from their wet noses.
The park is set inside some pretty reasonable open bushland. This is much what our area would have looked like before we built houses all over it and cleared the land for farming (although probably with a little less of the low grasses).
The park itself is very well maintained and planted with native plants, many of them indigenous. Many of my favourites were there (you might have noticed I have a lot of favourite plants!). I think today I took more photos of the plants than of the animals (they don't wriggle so much.) It was a bit inspiring for this junior gardener to see some of the ways that Australian native plants can be used.
As we walked around, I was reminded time and time again of why I love these plants. There's architectural and stately Banksia;
My eternal favourites, the Correas;
Filamentous rusty Casuarina flowers (males);
And how could anyone not appreciate the show put on by a new flush of Callistamon leaves?
But really, we were there for the animals (or, at least D and SP were).
SP had her first close encounter with a koala -called Becky. Her fur is dense like sheep's wool, but softer.
(And then SP tried to join her in her leafy snack. The photo, by the way, is black and white after our toddler insisted on holding the camera for a while and turned off the colour. I didn't realise for the first couple of shots.)
And near the end we made friends with some of the bigger residents, and chose a smaller one to feed.
And by that time we were freezing our bottoms off and our noses were going numb, and SP had a hold of the food pellet bag and was refusing to let go so it had to be wrestled away from her, and the sun was low in the sky so we went home for dinner. But I reckon we'll be back (in Spring, when it's warmer), it's only 10 minutes away after all!