24 July 12
Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo celebrated Bindi Irwin’s fourteenth birthday today with free entry for all children, so we were there (along with most of homeschooling southeast Queensland). This is the first time we’ve been to Australia Zoo, and I was thankful that my dad accompanied us on this outing to lend a hand and provide moral support.
This trip about an hour and a half north was the first big outing we’ve taken in our new bus. I packed some extra items as we hoped to stay overnight at a friend’s, and once everyone was in their seats, we were off. The bus is easy to drive and has more power than our horse truck in New Zealand, so it was a pleasure to be on the road again.
Finding the zoo was quite easy. Once we were north of Brisbane, the signs kept assuring us that we were on the right road — Steve Irwin Way — and the distance to Australia Zoo.
One reason that we haven’t been to Australia Zoo before is because the cost seems way too high. Adult tickets are $59, and a family pass (with three children) is $189. The fact that children were free today is what made a visit especially attractive — well, that and the fact that we wanted to try out our new rig.
In the shuttle, I realised what an enormous task I have before me in suddenly becoming a single parent. Although my ever-patient dad was on hand to help with the girls, they all wanted to be sitting next to me or on my lap. I just don’t have enough surface area to go around, and so — as a family — we will have to make the necessary adjustments in our attitudes so that no one misses out on attention or affection.
When we reach the tiger exhibit, it’s just in time for the show. Handlers demonstrate the ways that they train the tigers so that simple medical procedures like checking teeth and taking blood can be performed without knocking the tigers out.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Australia Zoo without a large number of Australian animals. First up, we saw koalas — up close and even touchable!
A large number of kangaroos lounge in a park area, and food can be bought and offered to them. When we were approaching the roos, a man came up to us and gave me a packet of roo-food.
This small gesture reminded me that we are still a specially-blessed family and can experience the sparkles of generosity wherever we go. Although I sometimes feel like the world has caved in on me, our children don’t need to know this emotional burden. They can grow up in freedom and love, believing that strangers will be kind to us as we are kind to others too.
Australia Zoo also features a great variety of native birds. They are contained in a large, netted enclosure, and are easy to approach. If we had been more relaxed at this point of our excursion, we could have spent a lot of time looking at the various birds. But we were hungry, so we continued on quite quickly.
Finally we reach the food-court, only to discover that the only food we can purchase is the last two remaining cups of hot chips… and ice-creams. Sometimes the hard decisions are taken out of my hands, and it’s ice-creams all around — buoying up the girls with energy and life!
We didn’t see any of the really big shows like the reptile encounter in the “Crocoseum”, but our time at Australia Zoo was a great way to start getting out and about as a smaller family unit. I’m going to make sure I have food with me next time so our girls don’t languish like they did today, and we’ll adjust to having only one adult to pay attention to all four children.
All in all, I think I would return to Australia Zoo to see the exhibits we missed. I’m thankful we visited in the winter-time, because I can see how it would be very hot and unpleasant in the summer. As for paying full price to see everything… I don’t think that’s likely — it doesn’t seem worth the money asked for the full price. We’ll wait until we can get free entry for the children again.