Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cleland Wildlife Park...A Good Day Out

Last weekend we were looking for something to do... and L-kun chipped in with his suggestion. Let's go to the zoo. Well. We'd already been to the zoo, so there was one place else we wanted to take L-kun to. Cleland Wildlife Park, up in the Adelaide Hills (right next to Mount Lofty Lookout). The easiest way to get there via car is to go straight up the South Eastern Freeway and take the Crafers Exit (it's well sign-posted from there).
View Larger Map

Like the Gorge Wildlife Park that we went to in late December, Cleland is famous for being able to walk around with the animals. At least some of the animals. Actually, it's been perhaps 4-5 years since last we were here, so our memory wasn't that clear. But, we all love animals, so we were happy to make an afternoon of it. And L-kun was pretty keen to get in.

I'll show a few photos of some of the animals there... nothing too exciting. For example the Tasmanian Devils were looking decidedly sleepy... and not that devilish. If you're wondering, their names come from the noise they make (pretty awful really, for such a pint-sized mammal... and yes, they can also be rather vicious if you're an even smaller mammal).
Tasmanian Devil
One of the things you'll notice a lot is that there's quite a bit of the native wildlife that can be found running around the park... especially these little potoroos.

Someone sneaking into shot
Perhaps the one thing that Cleland was famous for was the chance for people to get up close and personal with the koalas. And let's face it - koalas are just so cuddlicious.
And Cleland has always been famous for your ability to get up close and personal with the Koalas... you can have a quick pat, and take your own photo for free during the "Koalas in Close Up" times (11:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 - 4:00pm as long as the temperature is not above 32 degrees). It's definitely not as up close and personal as it was at the Gorge Wildlife Park, however, it's still fun. 

And the Koalas sleep up to 19 hours a day, and basically eat (only eucalyptus leaves) when they're not sleeping. That's a lot of leaves.

Of course - not everything is as it seems... and you have to beware of imposters. Though I have to admit that L-kun doesn't exactly look sure of this new way of sitting down.
A Koala imposter

However - one thing that was a very pleasant surprise on the day was that L-kun had discovered the joy of opening gates for people. Not just his parents - anyone. Every time he saw a fence with a gate, he'd be off to open the gate. I know we should treasure these days when he is so polite.

Speaking of fences (but one largely without gates), the biggest fence in the world (supposedly) can be found in Australia. 5320 km long... it's not quite the Great Wall of Australia, but it's been an important part of our farming. It's purpose is not to keep the Southerners in (or the Northerners out)... but rather to stop dingos moving from the arid interior into the farming lands of the south east coast.

Dingo's... Australia (almost) native dog. Actually they came here from south east asia (where they can still be found in very small numbers), and have been responsible for the mass extinction of many real Australian native fauna. They were semi-domesticated by aboriginals, but remain essentially a wild dog (actually they're more closely related to wolves).
The dingo is the largest predator (ignoring the crocodile) in Australia, and has unfairly been given a reputation of being mean and vicious... however, the problems with the dingo stem largely from where they are in a domestic situation and interact and depend on people for survival.

Whilst they may not be the uncontrollable killers that they are sometimes portrayed as, they are nonetheless definitely hunters and carnivores (don't ask where the food comes from.... wildlife parks have a tendency to breed some animals that aren't used for "display purposes")

On a much more calmer note... Cleland also has a good range of birdlife as well.
Cape Barren Goose

Little Pied Cormorant

I always thought that the Pelican is a strange bird... 

And from one big bird to another... the emu. I know people will approach these to feed them, but for me, I prefer the idea of 10 digits well and truly remaining on my hands. I just don't trust 'em.

Apart from koalas, Cleland (like Gorge) Wildlife Park is famous for the ability to feed the animals (a bag of feed will set you back $3... but our experience was that the animals were more than well fed by the time we arrived in the afternoon. We still have half a bag left. Still - it's fun trying to coax the kangaroos and wallabies to have a nibble. Normally they'll oblige.

Another one of the interesting animals you'll find here is the Echidna... the Australian ant-eater. These are an amazing creature, and are known as monotremes.... mammals that lay eggs. Platypus (a close relative) also have this trait - and it's a very unique branch in the mammals evolutionary tree.

Whilst it may not exactly be a unique animal... the Tawny Frogmouth is one distinctive looking bird. And by distinctive, I guess I mean grumpy (and that's being polite). And I had assumed that they were owls - but they're not (though related). Their principal defensive strategy (especially when nesting) is to remain perfectly still and blend into the surroundings. That would most probably work if you were in a forest of Frogmouths... though the tawny colour an squat somewhat irregular shape most probably greatly aids in the camouflaging.
Tawny Frogmouth
Anyhow - that's my brief speel on Cleland. The park costs $17 per adult and $10 for children >2 years old. I have to admit that I used to think that Cleland was much nicer than the Gorge Wildlife Park, but this time around I'd have to admit to reversing that opinion. Cleland's great for going for a stroll in the Adelaide Hills, and feeding the kangaroos/wallabies is nice. It just lacks the variety of Gorge... but is perhaps a little closer to the original conservation theme. It's a nice escape from the city - but be prepared to mix it up with a lot of busloads of tourists as it's one of Adelaide's more popular attractions. And at the end of the day, L-kun's reaction says a lot.... "Daddy, can we come back here again!"


  1. wow man, interesting. never heard of the "dingo fence". only knew of the rabbit-proof fence in wa because of the movie with the same name. what type of an aussie am i?

    reminded me of that bigpond ad about building the great wall of china during the time of emperor nasi goreng to keep the rabbits out. :-)

  2. I have to admit that I didn't know that it was so long either... and yes, it's a bit like the Great Wall (and may also have been built by nasi goreng). The interesting thing is that it's still "sort of" performing a function... though it's getting a little porous (then again - I can't imagine maitaining a 5000+ km fence line)