Did you say 7 degrees Celsius??? With puffer jackets, beanies and scarves packed we made our way to Healesville Sanctuary. Why, you may ask? Well, it was my motherly duty to fill up the last week of the holidays with fun and games for my darlings. So rain, hail, (cough and cold) or shine I was taking my little man to the Zoo. As a child I have fond memories of making my way through the animal exhibits and straining my eyes to catch a glimpse of the creatures hiding within. It was more often than not that I would walk away slightly disappointed at the fact that the wombat was sleeping again, or the platypus was hiding amongst the foliage. That the Koala was facing the wrong way or that the only thing out to play were the birds. Well let me tell you, on this visit to Healesville Sanctuary this Mamma-bear was very excited (maybe a little too excited) to see that the animals were very active and putting on a great display.
It is often ones instinct to hibernate in winter. However, the Yarra Valley is full of fun activities in the cold months, a.k.a Gumboot Season. Honestly, winter is my favourite month to capture the Valley (Winter) and there is nothing like getting the children out of the house and exploring this beautiful land. With the added incentive of ‘kids visit free’ during the school holidays, Healesville Sanctuary was a win-win option.
We arrived early and quickly found ourselves with map in hand making our way to the reptile enclosure. My little man has decided that snakes and skeletons are high on his ever changing list of favourite things to see. An emu drummed out a hello as we wandered down the Wurundjeri Walk. It was on this path that we met Barak, a statue of the Wurundjeri leader. This was the perfect opportunity to explain to my boy about the indigenous heritage of the land and how they lived. It is very pleasing to find that the Yarra Valley is presenting to the visitors of the region the story of the Wurundjeri people and is educating us on the history of the land and it’s Aboriginal tribe.
This is what I love the most about Healesville Sanctuary – it is very interactive. It seems that whenever I visit I bump into a keeper taking a resident for a walk. On this particular day it was the Tawny Frogmouth strolling around the grounds. The children were encouraged to pat him and ask questions about the stunning bird. If you are one of my Snapchat followers, you would have no doubt witnessed Mum learning a thing or two about the Nightjar (a night bird). These experiences always remind me that I am still a child at heart and only ever pretend to be a grown up.
Passing the resting dingoes and a few more distractions along the way, we finally made it to the Reptile House. My mission was now complete and I could continue as I saw fit – or so I thought. I have never seen my son so annoyed at his blogging mother for stopping and taking photos. He was soooooo excited to continue and try and find the fruit bats (which he now likes thanks to Giggle and Hoot). However, Mummy was desperate for a morning coffee – which was only allowed due to the fact that it was consumed right near a play-ground. The beauty of Healesville Sanctuary is that it is a place for children to explore and learn as well as live out the desires of their heart – which in this case was to slide down the slide multiple times until Mum had finished her very ordinary coffee and wanted to move on. NOTE: You will find that if you stop for a snack or lunch you are inviting the locals to come and feast with you – the white ibises are very brazen and will not hesitate to sift through your pram for scraps – so keep your food well packed and in a high position!
Sadly we did not find the Fruit Bats (note to self – must work on my map reading skills). We did however, see a 20+kg wombat being weighed, koalas human watching, a very active platypus playing in the water, echidnas roaming and kangaroos feeding. It was at the kangaroo enclosure that the kids almost received their first lesson on procreation!! It is joey season and the big red of the group was looking to add to his mob.
You learn something new every day at Healesville Sanctuary, especially those that are aspiring to become vets when they grow up. The Sanctuary has an Australian Wildlife Health Center with a Future Vets Play Space. Here the children can see what a real operating room and laboratory looks like. They have a space where they can role play as vets and help injured animals. It was a highlight for my boys and I think most children from the age of 2-8 would really respond to the space.
I was so happy with my decision to face the weather and take the children to Healesville Sanctuary. It is a beautiful place where you can view the animals within beautiful enclosures. The breeding programs are also a credit to the establishment. I look forward to planning my next visit and am looking into becoming a Zoo member so that I can take full advantage of this beautiful destination in the Yarra Valley.