Kangaroo Quest!

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Our first Aussie kangaroo. This stuffed guy is in the Sydney Visitor Center and we can’t wait to see wild ones!

One of the primary objectives of our visit to Australia was to see kangaroos in the wild.  However, it didn’t look like that would be possible since we would be in Australia for just a week and since we were based in downtown Sydney.  All that changed when we found Claire Robinson’s post on her ZigZagOnEarth blog in which she shared her amazing experience on a  Sydney Boutique Wildlife Tour where you can see wild kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and more.  We were thrilled at the possibilities so we immediately booked the tour through Viator and thus began our eager anticipation which was to last for several months.

Finally, we flew the 9000 miles to Sydney and the day came for our excursion.  Boutique’s four-wheel drive van picked us up at our hotel at 11:30 AM.  Then we drove around Sydney to pick up the four other couples that were going on the excursion with us.  As we drove around Sydney our driver and guide for the day, Cliff, pointed out the sights and told us about what we were seeing.  We learned a lot in those first thirty minutes and we hadn’t even left the city!

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Our guide, Cliff, and the Boutique Tours van.

Soon, we were headed south from Sydney on the interstate.  We did introductions and then Cliff shared more background on the history, flora and fauna of Australia.  It was obvious that he loves Australia and he loves sharing his knowledge with others.

Berrima

After about 90 minutes of driving we pulled into the small town of Berrima, a small village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  We stopped at the Farm Gate Cafe where we had a quick lunch before heading out to the rural areas for our big hunt.  The food was good, but my favorite thing about this stop was listening to a kookaburra’s strange call.  I didn’t see him, but you can’t mistake a kookaburra’s call for anything else.  Here’s what they sound like: Kookaburra Sound

We left Berrima on a rural road and just outside of town we spotted a group of animals in a field.  Could it be kangaroos?!?!  Cliff stopped the van and we walked out into the field.  Yes, it was a mob of about twenty kangaroos!  It was hard to take pictures because we were so excited to actually see kangaroos in the wild.  Our hearts were pounding and we had goosebumps…what an amazing thrill to see these awesome animals out in a field.  We got to watch and photograph them for about twenty minutes before the whole mob decided to leave and they bounced off to another field.  It’s so surreal to watch a mob of kangaroos hop away!  We could have ended our excursion right then and I would still consider it to be one of our best excursions ever…but more was to come!

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Kangaroos in the distance!

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A Mob of Kangaroos!

Kangaroo or Wallaby?

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Kangaroo or Wallaby?

I need to stop right here and attempt to make a distinction between kangaroos and wallabies.  I am by no measure an expert but I did listen to Cliff when he explained the difference and I’ll try to relay that here.  Kangaroos and wallabies are both marsupials meaning they bear their young in pouches.  They both have large legs which they use to hop and they have large heavy tails.  Kangaroos are the larger of the two species and they can grow up to 6 1/2 feet tall, while wallabies are smaller and grow up to only 4 feet tall.  Wallabies tend to be multi-colored with splashes of several bright colors.  Kangaroos are typically of a single color and the colors are a little dull.  Okay…that’s about all I know on this topic.  Hopefully, you’ll forgive me if some of my pictures are mislabeled!

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This kangaroo is about 6 feet tall. He didn’t look real, even in real life!

We kept driving through the countryside spotting kangaroos and wallabies left and right!  What a great day!

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Wallaby, I think.

We finally got to our destination which is a private farm/ranch of several hundred acres.  There we got out of the van and began walking through the woods hoping to see more animals, especially a koala.  After about 20 minutes we came across an echidna!  The echidna looks kind of like a spiny anteater, but it’s much different in that it’s a mammal that lays eggs!  We were able to get close enough to touch this one, but we never got a look at his face because he was busy digging into the forest floor.IMG_9819

What’s Up In That Tree?!?

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Walking the trail and looking for animals!

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What is that?!?!

We kept walking through the woods, keeping a ready eye in all directions because you never know where you’re going to spot wildlife, and there in a tree…what is that!?!?  It’s a koala!  OMG!  All ten of us clustered under this fellow and snapped photo after photo.  He was a little shy and seemed very adept at hiding his face just behind the branch at just the right time, but we didn’t care….we got to see a koala out in the wild!

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It’s a koala up there!!!

For the rest of the day we alternated between walking in the woods and riding in the van, looking for more animals.  We continued to see kangaroos and wallabies, but the only evidence we saw of wombats were their many burrows.

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Wombat burrows are huge!

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Finally, it was dusk and time to go to dinner.  We drove back to Berrima and had dinner at a pub which claims to be the oldest pub in Australia.  After dinner, we went to get back into the van, but it’s battery was dead.  Luckily, a local went to get jumper cables to get us going again.  While we were waiting on the jump we stood outside the pub and talked to several of the locals.  They were amazed that we had seen a koala in that they had lived in the area for most of their lives and had never seen one.  We were lucky indeed!

After Dark

It was dark after we got the van going, and now it was time to look for nocturnal animals.  We drove through Berrima and parked the van near the Wingecarribee River.  Here Cliff gave us all high-powered flashlights and off we went into the darkness.  First stop was the river’s edge where we looked for another egg-laying mammal, the platypus.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of these unusual creatures but we spotted several ring-tailed possums up in the trees with their babies.  Too cute!

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We walked to another area of the river and there we encountered a wombat!  Wombats look like 2 feet tall overstuffed guinea pigs and they shuffle around eating vegetation.  Wombats also bear their young in pouches, but their pouches face backwards so no dirt gets in there when the wombats dig their burrows.  This particular wombat didn’t mind us being there as we followed him along the river as long as we could.  What a fun experience!!!

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Wombat! This little guy is about two feet tall!

Unfortunately, it was time for our excursion to end so we piled into the van and began our 90 minute journey back to Sydney.  We took some backroads along the way and spotted a few more kangaroos and wallabies.  We just couldn’t get enough of them!  Finally, we arrived back at our hotel around 10:00 PM.  We quickly fell asleep to dream of kangaroos, koalas and wombats!

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One last kangaroo pic!

 

This is an awesome excursion, easily one of the best we’ve ever taken.  The van was very comfortable, the food was excellent and our guide, Cliff, was an encyclopedia of all things Aussie.  And of course, we got to see lots of wildlife, up close and wonderful!  We highly recommend this excursion for anyone visiting Sydney!

 

Links:

Here’s the link to the blog ZigZag On Earth post which clued us in to this excursion: How to see wild Australian animals from Sydney.  And if you’re visiting Australia, ZigZag has a lot of information about what to see, do and eat.  Here’s the home page: http://www.zigzagonearth.com

Viator is a world-wide travel resource for finding the best excursions wherever you are and we use them for many of our trips.  Here’s a link to their home page: http://www.viator.com

Last but not least, here a link to Sydney Boutique Tours website:  Sydney Boutique Tours.  We talked to others who have taken their wine tour and it sounds as though it’s also an awesome tour.IMG_2512

BTW:

Not one part of this Kangaroo Quest was sponsored.  We paid for everything ourselves and it was money well spent!

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2 Responses to Kangaroo Quest!

  1. Barb October 12, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

    I was in Sydney for two weeks in June. I’m so sad I didn’t know about this! What an amazing adventure. In 2014 I got to spend 4 days on Kangaroo Island in South Australia – it was the best thing I have ever done, definitely something for the bucket list.

    Thanks for sharing your trip!

    • MNM October 12, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

      Now, we’re looking up Kangaroo Island!

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