Ask anyone what their first thought is when you say ‘Australia’ and I can guarantee 90% of people would say either kangaroos or koala bears! Not only are they super adorable – but they’re a definitive staple from down under, as well as being at the top of a lot of Ozzie bucket lists!
I stupidly assumed that kangaroos and koalas were as prevalent in Australia as pigeons are in London. I was pretty much expecting to see them roaming around freely, bouncing about outside my window – which, disappointingly isn’t the case in a big city like Melbourne! Maybe once I venture out into the outback – it’ll be more like my initial vision but until then, visiting a wildlife park was essential for me. I was so excited to see my first kangaroos, and the fact that the Phillip Island Wildlife Park had a free range area where I could get up close and interact with them was even better!
Visiting the park was definitely worth it; for only $19 per adult ticket, you can spend the day peering at the lazy koalas in the trees, coo at the cuddly looking wombats or stare in awe at the pack of dingo’s play-fighting with each other. Included in the ticket price is also a little bag of kangaroo feed – although, for only 50 cents per extra bag, it’s definitely worth loading up, because once you’re in the kangaroo enclosure you won’t ever want to leave!
The free-range area is a huge section at the back of the park and on the day we visited it was totally empty of other park-goers. After the initial elation of having the whole area to ourselves, the panic set in that we’d actually entered the wrong section and were definitely somewhere we weren’t supposed to be! This panic was reaffirmed when a mob of emu’s came charging excitedly towards us – sniffing out the little bags of feed in our pockets. We quickly departed – checking and re-checking the sign on the gate that tells you entry is allowed; it all just seemed too wild for it to be okay?! But, lo and behold – we were in the right place. After a quick Google session on a variety of searches loosely based on “can emus kill humans?” we were ready to re-enter! Psyching yourself up was definitely necessary for us – as neither of us have ever got that close to wild animals before and it was a bit of a shock to the system!
The trick is to stay calm, hide your food bags and don’t run – just act as though emus pecking at you is part of your everyday life and you’ll be fine! They have no boundaries of personal space; shoving their beaks right into your face and literally pulling the food bags from out of our pockets and running off with them! Their pecks are pretty sharp too – pounding at the palm of your hand to nibble up every last scrap; which in itself was an intense experience. Trust me, feeding them from behind a gate is definitely better for your blood pressure!
The kangaroos, in comparison to the emus, were total opposites. There were tons of them lounging around and napping – not even batting an eyelid when we wandered past them. A few of the smaller ones started bouncing over to us once the emu’s had finally dispersed, so we were able to finally get up close and personal with those adorable little kangaroos!
Their coats were a lot softer than I was expecting and they were so tame in comparison to the emu’s. They were really calm when you were feeding them, very patiently waiting their turn to be stroked or offered food. Both of us absolutely fell in love with them, wishing we could adopt one and take it home immediately! Everything about them was just so intriguing – the way they moved, the fact they were able to carry the little joey’s in their pouches, the way they interacted with eachother; they’re just exceptional animals! We practically had to drag ourselves away from the kangaroo enclosure to get on with the rest of our day plans, but we could have easily stayed there for hours!
In a separate section, there’s a little enclosure for wallaby’s – which initially we assumed were basically the same as kangaroos – but (apologies to any wallaby fans) they’re more like a kangaroos way less cute cousin. Their hair is a lot scratchier, their nails are a lot sharper and they bound towards you pretty aggressively in comparison to the kangas! While you’re feeding them, they grip their claws into your hands and pull you towards them – for us, it was a much less pleasant experience!
Overall, our afternoon at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park was one of our favourite experiences since being in Australia. It was the first time we’d truly felt like we were living down under, and the first time we’d ever encountered anything like it! I’d definitely recommend anyone visiting Phillip Island to pop in and hang out with these awesome creatures – even if it’s just for a quick feed and a selfie!
*Click below for our Phillip Island Vlog!*
Phillip Island Vlog!