To give Wes a sense of the wild just outside of city limits, we rented a car and drove out through the countryside to Healesville Sanctuary.  Though we recently visited the Melbourne Zoo, we were eager to see what Healesville and its “open habitat” style had to offer. Healesville focuses on native Australian animals, and though a car rental is a must (negative for non-car owning city dwellers or any person who drives on the sane side of the road),  it was a beautiful drive through the sunny Yarra Valley countryside to get there.

We got quite a treat right off the bat at the koala exhibit.  Turns out those fluffy and lovable but oh-so-sedentary little marsupials come alive when the zoo staff shakes up some fresh and tasty eucalyptus.  We stumbled on the exhibit right at feeding time, and watching the koalas leap from branch to branch to get the freshest leaves.  Totally adorable.

mama koala and joey

emu

goanna lizard

A definite highlight of the zoo adventure was an open stadium bird show with various falcons, eagles, a vulture, and cockatoos.  This cheeky wedge-tailed eagle was testing out her new instructor (he admitted finally he’d just started the show the week before) and refusing to go back to roost, flying around the stadium in defiance of his calls for her to return home.

After our zoo adventure and a tasty picnic lunch, we headed home to Melbourne by way of the Dandenong Ranges and Dandenong National Park.  After some skillful navigation through the hills (read: gravel and dirt roads off the main road and on the side of the mountain as we climbed up in elevation) we made it to the trail for Olinda Falls.

My first thought was, how have we lived here for 6 months and not been here before!  And, when can I come back!  Beautiful lush trees, a short but steep hike to the falls and back up, and I was definitely ready to spend the next week getting reacquainted with nature.