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Down Under in Australia

Visiting Australia recently was spectacular, and a dream come true. I experienced several ‘firsts’, including the pleasure of holding a koala at Lone Pine Wildlife Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland.

Did you know that the eucalyptus or gum tree is an integral part of Australia’s landscape, and apparently, only 7 out of the 600 different species are found naturally outside Australia?

Contrary to popular belief and its cuddly appearance, a koala is not a bear. It is a marsupial, like a kangaroo, and felt like a toddler in my arms. I was terrified I might drop it! Koalas look really cute sleeping in the Eucalyptus branches; some huddled up together with their arms around each other. There were so many of them at Lone Pine, which is the largest koala sanctuary in the world. I recommend a visit if you are ever in Brisbane. According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, due to their low-energy diet and the intense amount of energy required to break down toxic leaves, koalas can sleep for up to twenty hours a day!

Lone Pine Wildlife Sanctuary has loads of other animals unique to Australia. Another ‘first’ and special treat for me was feeding the kangaroos.

I could not tell at first glance if the kangaroos were male or female, and I was feeling rather disappointed because I had not spotted a joey in a pouch when I suddenly noticed a peculiar sight. It looked like some twigs were sticking out of an Eastern Grey kangaroo’s belly, but I quickly realised these were her joey’s legs!

It was fascinating to watch the legs disappear, and after a little while, the head appeared. After psyching myself up, I got to feed the mother without losing any fingers or thumbs!

McLaren vale, Fleurieu Peninsula- Adelaide

McLaren vale, one of the wine regions of Fleurieu Peninsula in southern Australia one of its greenest wine regions because of its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability including water efficiency strategies. It is named after David McLaren, the colonial manager of the South Australia company who surveyed the area in 1839. The first vines were planted here in or around 1838 and the early wineries made heavy, dry table wines. Nowadays, in addition to hosting more than 190 producers, including 80 cellar doors, the region produces olives, olive oil, almonds, milk, cheese, and cream. It is a breathtakingly, beautiful place to drive through.

Stopped over for a delightful Sunday lunch at Lost Phoenix Farm restaurant nestled out of sight and tucked away among the trees with spectacular views of the Hindmarsh Valley. Hanging out with my girlfriend and former colleague Sarah and her family was a rare treat and proof that it is worth investing in people and dreams do and can come true!

Mark Kenneally is an independent Australian vintner. He grew up as a child with his aunt and uncle and helped out on their farm and vineyard. He developed a love for winemaking and after working for several years with a corporate winemaker in New Zealand, he and his wife Emma teamed up with another couple and friends, Gus and Swan Altschwager who shared their passion for wine, to establish their own wine company, Altschwager Kenneally wines, one of the boutique brewers and passionate wine distillers in McLaren vale.

In 2017, with support from Naked Angels- Mark realised a childhood dream to own his own vineyard, nestled between the beautiful rolling hills of the Mount Lofty ranges, home to wild grey kangaroos and sprawling coastline of pristine beaches in McLaren vale. Today, Mark’s years of hard work paid off and he has the pleasure of residing with his wife, children and dog in a beautiful self-built bungalow backing on to his vines!

I had the pleasure of attending my first Aussie family BBQ ! Mark was really kind and took me out in his jeep to see kangaroos in the wild.

I did not think anything could top my Lone Pine kangaroo experience until I saw a mob of kangaroos. I was so excited that I nearly fell out of the jeep and dropped my phone while I multi-tasked taking photos, recording the magical sight on my smartphone, and trying to watch them with my naked eyes.

Magical moment seeing a mob of kangaroos in the wild!

Kangaroos are a popular food for the Aboriginal people. The leg sinews from these animals can also be used to bind spears. Nowadays, kangaroo meat is a delicacy, too.

Mince: Emu, kangaroo and venison

Sausages: Buffalo, camel, crocodile, emu, kangaroo, venison and wild boar

Australia is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world, including snakes, spiders, sharks, and crocodiles. In Queensland, I was frequently reminded to have my shoes on because spiders and snakes were very much at home all over the place!

We were lucky to see two Tasmanian devils fighting, the reclusive platypus (which is quite rare to spot), and two beautiful cockatoos (eating mice). The latter, apparently, was an aberration because cockatoos are herbivores. In fact, this photo caused quite a bit of consternation in Aussie circles; nobody who heard the story could believe it!

This video is quite graphic!

Can you believe that Australian cockatoos have a life expectancy of 100 years?

This guy said snakes were his favourite pets!

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