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Days 315-316 Friday-Saturday February 29 – March 1, 2008 – Sunshine Coast to Brisbane, Australia

After a late night of turtle excitement at Mon Repos on Thursday, we had a four hour drive back to the Sunshine Coast the next morning. We skipped visiting Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo on the way up, but did not want to miss it a second time. Since we wouldn’t arrive down south early enough to go to the zoo, we decided to get going as early as possible so we could spend the afternoon at the Aussie World theme park.

By the time we made the drive from Bundaberg to the Sunshine Coast it was around noon. Following a quick lunch stop at Subway, we headed out to Aussie World. As we walked up to the entrance, a small sign written in chalk stood outside. Knowing that such signs usually carry bad news, I slowly approached it.  The sign stated that the park would be closing at 3:30pm for a function. This would only have given us a little over two hours to visit and given the cost of admission, we decided to pass. (Or Jasmine said no while Shawn Reece and I whined about it!)

Without any back up plan on the itinerary, we spent yet another afternoon in Queensland killing time. Come Saturday morning, we were ready to get out and see the world famous Australia Zoo. From the holiday park, it was a forty five minute drive back towards Brisbane before we reached the zoo.

After parking, we went inside to find that the cost of admission was north of $40AUD. For a zoo, this is the most outrageous price I have ever seen. It is clear that Terri Irwin is using her husband’s persona to make a few extra dollars. (I am sure this was the case when he was alive as well.) We did bite our tongues though and paid the admission price. Once inside, we were excited to see a few elephants standing in front of us.

Along the walkway, five or six elephants were waiting to be fed by the guests. Shawn Reece, Jasmine and I all took turns in line feeding the elephants. At one point when Shawn Reece stopped to pose for a photo, one of the trainers came over and screamed at both of us to keep the line moving. I was a little taken back, but shrugged it off and moved on. From the elephants, we headed over to the Crocoseum which is home to the zoo’s big show.

The Crocoseum show turned out to be mildly amusing. It consisted of three parts. For the first ten or so minutes we watched different breeds of birds come out and do tricks. Following the birds, a large variety of snakes were trotted outside for the guest’s enjoyment. Finally, after thirty minutes of animal fun, the crocs walked into the auditorium. For the crocodile portion of the show, the zoo’s trainers had the crocs perform quite a few tricks, including having them jump six feet out of the water to get some food.

While we did enjoy the show, the animals are the main draw of any zoo. This zoo did not disappoint in the marsupial department. Inside, they had the largest kangaroo enclosure we have seen, (Yay more kangaroo feeding) along with four different areas housing koalas. We also saw plenty of emus, echidnas, dingos, wombats (they are the cutest animal ever) and even a couple tazzie devils. Unfortunately, beyond the Aussie animals, the zoo doesn’t have much.

In the back section of the zoo are a few tigers, a camel and a couple of “active” turtles. There are also some random bird aviaries and such, but not much more than we saw at the sizeably smaller Adelaide Zoo. Perhaps the neatest attraction at the Australia Zoo is their snake enclosure. The indoor snake house contains each of the 10 deadliest snakes on earth. (All of them come from Australia.)

One of the neatest experiences we had all day was wandering into one of the koala enclosures right before feeding time. Once a day they change out the eucalyptus branches and the koalas get very excited. We have seen koalas in several different places now in Australia and have always found them lethargic. In this particular area before feeding, we saw them jumping from tree to tree and moving around quite a lot. One of them even decided to hang out on the ground for a while.

Of course the zoo also has dozens of crocodile enclosures. If you have ever seen crocs then you know they aren’t much to look at. At least koalas are cute, but crocs just sit there and don’t do very much. All in all I would say that the visit was disappointing. Steve Irwin’s face is posted everywhere and it just seems that they have doubled the admission price because of his celebrity. A basic admission to the San Diego Zoo is about half the price and you get four times the experience. Not to mention something like Animal Kingdom which in addition to the rides has much more elaborate animal enclosures.

We tried to stretch out our day as long as possible, since we wanted to leave with the feeling that we had gotten our money’s worth. While that feeling never came, we were grateful to at least be partaking in some activity, given the past two weeks worth of misses. Before leaving the zoo we took our pictures with the Irwins. At least Steve lives on in this place that he loved so much.

We want to thank everyone for the comments and emails. Your support is truly appreciated and keeps us going.

The Coomer Family

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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