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Published March 22nd 2016
A Day with Cuddly Kangaroos and Peppy Pelicans
Heading northwards from Sydney towards Central Coast on train, through the gorgeous greenery of Ku-ring-gai, is always refreshing. Those who are new to the Eastern side of Australia or are here for a vacation, let me take you on a joy-ride to the urban wilderness. For us city animals, a glimpse of the exotic and wild means a visit to the local zoo. But there are places where the concrete has not yet encroached the green space. And zoological abundance thrives in these small patches.
Located at about 45 kms south of Newcastle, Morisset is as synonymous with the Psychiatric Hospital as it is with marsupials in their natural habitat. My very first visit to the place left a lasting impression. The kangaroos here inhabitate the nearby Koompahtoo Aboriginal Reserve and Lake Macquarie State Recreation Area. Our group was lucky, for most of the Does carried Joeys. As such the kangaroos here are a jolly bunch allowing people an unexpected proximity, while enjoying pats, back rubs and food in return. But the joeys, I must say, stole the show. They were cuteness personified - peeping at the visitors and often diving back into the safe warmth of their moms' pouches with tiny tails dangling out.
Most of the kangaroos just idled around basking in the sunbathed lawns while some jumped closer to us in hopes of food. Carrots and other human consumables have been upsetting their herbivore stomachs so the ranger was vigilant. He kept reminding the enthusiastic visitors to feed them only rabbit food or other locally available fodder packaged especially for our furry friends. Tall, short, plump and slender - the friendly kangaroos kept us completely engrossed. It's a great destination for kids to have an interactive experience.
A day trip to the Central Coast is incomplete without a stop-over at The Entrance. It is located midway between Morisset and Woy Woy, at the confluence of Tuggerah Lake and Pacific Ocean. The aquatic junction is a pelican hub.
As the hour hand of the clock slowly makes its way towards 3:30pm, the feathered giants start flocking towards the feeding spot. It feels as if they follow an invisible timer tied to their webbed feet.
As soon as the ranger readies the tub of fish, the squadron of pelicans stands alert. And then the orchestra begins. With each motion of the ranger's hand, the beaks go up and down in amazing synchrony. Year around, the feeding takes place everyday at 3:30pm without miss. The crowd can be really thick, so if you are not amongst the early arrivals, you might end up on tiptoes straining to see the winged performance. But even for those who miss out the main action, there is good news. After the feeding session is over, the crowd disperses but the pelicans linger around for last scraps. It's a good chance to click close-ups while the feeder throws the last morsels at the eager birds.
Pelican Island at Woy Woy harbours another flock which is comparatively smaller than the Entrance squadron. So is the congregation of curious visitors - way smaller than that at Tuggerah Lake. Hence, if your plans don't stretch out towards Newcastle, you can enjoy the 3:30pm pelican feeding at Fishermen's Wharf in Woy Woy (an hour and half of train ride from Sydney). The wharf is located a mere 500 metres from the railway station (head left once you are out). Memorial Park, right beside the feeding area is a good option for a leisurely walk down to Lions Park which lies 850 metres ahead.
The options at these places are many: picnicking at Lake Macquarie or Tuggerah, dining out at The Entrance, a beach stroll along the water bodies, antique hunting at Woy Woy, or a relaxing vacation in the Central Coast. And if you are there just for the aforementioned interactive experiences, the best part is, unlike zoos and other sanctuaries, not a penny goes out of your pocket. Give your goodness and get back enjoyment - 100% guaranteed!!