Nutritionist & Life Coach
Meeting all requirements to call myself so (i.e. none)
Published June 8th 2012
For misguided international visitors to Melbourne who have been disappointed to find that kangaroos are not bounding down the main street and that koalas are not climbing down telegraph poles for a convenient photo opportunity, Healesville Sanctuary is undoubtedly the best place to go. This visit must of course be accompanied by references to 'Drop Bears' and the mysterious 'Desert Prawn'; those species being fictional animals that Australians have teased visitors with since convict times.
About an hour's drive out of Melbourne in the scenic Yarra Valley this exclusively native park ironically has Badger Creek running through it. In no other place near Melbourne do you get the opportunity to get up so close to some of Australia's most iconic animals.
A board walk through eucalypts gets people within close range of koala's, whose innate inertia allows for repeated photo opportunities. Even more pleasingly to the international and local visitor alike, you can actually handfeed a kangaroo should the marsupial deign you worthy of providing it with sustenance.
The 'kangaroo section' would probably be the most photographed area with visitors desperately getting the cameras to eye in time to capture a loved one standing next to the internationally recognised symbol of Australian wildlife.
The highlight of a visit to Healesville is definitely the 'Spirits of the Sky' show. Featuring snow owls, ospreys and culminating in the simply awesome sight of the Wedgetail eagle, the audience gets to witness these birds in flight, up close. And I mean close! The birds will literally fly through the audience and perch within touching distance. Watching a wedgetailed eagle fly within six inches of your ear lobe simply defies description and should really be on every Melburnian's bucket list. The show also includes a local Koori demonstrating didgeridoo playing, boomerang throwing and discussing local Koori traditions.
The Spirits of the Sky show with the star performers amongst the crowd
You can just about tick every box in terms of native Australian animals including the elusive and (rarely observed in the wild) platypus. I had great fun in warning my foreign companion about the vicious platypus and that she had better be on her guard when entering the enclosure. The unique little critter then absolutely charmed us with its endearing appearance and scuttling manner both on land and underwater.
Healesville Sanctuary really is a fantastic place to visit, whether from overseas or just down the road you will definitely come across something you've never seen before. With canteen facilities there and ample parking provided make sure you get there for the 12 noon or 2:30pm bird of prey show and spend the rest of the day wandering around and enjoying the serenity.