One of the things Amanda enjoyed on our last trip to Australia was being able to get up close with a koala. We have been spending the last few days with my dad and step mum in a small country town (Gunnedah) and there is a wildlife park and sanctuary nearby. We went to the wildlife park to see the animals and the chance to get close to a koala.
The name of the wildlife park is Waterways and was designed by a lady who loves animals. Not only does the park host a bunch of different types of Australian wildlife but it also is a sanctuary for injured and sick animals. If there is a injured animal on the road or somewhere nearby people are able to call her and the animal will be brought to Waterways to be brought back to health. On average an animal is bought to them every 3 days. I am sure countless animals have been saved through the efforts of this amazing lady and her staff. The fee to get in is very inexpensive so local businesses sponsor certain habitats to help offset costs. It is truly amazing to see the community rally around this woman and her great cause.
One of the main attractions at Waterways is being able to get right up next to the koalas. The state (NSW) does not allow people to hold the koalas like you can in QLD but you are able to get up next to the koalas and pet them. We were escorted into the koala enclosure by a staff member and were invited to pet the koalas. Their fur was nice and soft and felt more like wool, rather than fur. In fact the handler said that koalas have wool which sounded strange but made a lot of sense after petting them. The last time we handled koalas in 2006 we held them for a quick photograph and then quickly taken away for the next person. I thought this was a much better way to interact with the koalas as they would not be nearly as stressed as being passed from person to person and you got a lot more time with the koalas then you do when you are holding them. If given the choice I would choose petting them as you are not stressing the animals out and you got a lot more time to savour the experience.
There is a lot of other animals in the park besides the koalas. There are kangaroos, wallabies, emus, kookaburras, dingoes and many other animals. For $5 a person it was a great way to spend a couple of hours with some of Australia's wildlife and help out animals in need. If you are ever in the Gunnedah area, you need to come check it out!