Day 19


Melbourne and the Melbourne Zoo



Where We Went:

Today we headed to the Melbourne Zoo for a sleepover with the animals.  We arrived at 6pm and headed through Jurassic Park style service gates to our sleeping area for the night.  Our camp was perfect:  palms trees and safari style canvas tents on platforms, surrounded by our animal neighbours.  Dad was pleasantly surprised by the comfortable tenting accommodation and air mattresses, but we were warned to keep our tents doors securely closed otherwise we might have possums snuggling up in our sleeping bags.

After setting up camp, we went for a quick tour of the behind the scenes facilities.  Did you know?… That the Melbourne Zoo filters 20,000 L of water/hour for the penguin and seal exhibits?  Or that the food the animals receive is grocery quality?   Or that buildings in the zoo are so old they have heritage status?

After dinner was the nocturnal tour, we we had the chance to see some of the animals after dark.  After experiencing the Melbourne Zoo in both the busy daytime  – 10,000 people a day during the busy season – and the quiet evening, it was amazing to experience the place all to ourselves.  Plus some animals – like the red pandas, are only active during dusk and dawn.   On the night time tour we fed an elephant apples and pears,  watching him navigate his pool to suck up as much fruit as he could without getting too wet.  We watched giant fruit bats fly over head, petted a tortoise, said hello to Bolivian squirrel monkeys,  waved to a one-eyed tapir and category 1 (very_ dangerous peccary, and listened to macaws squawk.  A  juvenile lion who was very intrigued by our group, pacing the glass and jumping up onto the mesh walls to get a better view of us… we were all happy that there was something between us. Our hosts Jacky and Katheryn shared some incredible zoo stories and fact with us, making the walk through the zoo even better.   After that it was time to head to bed with all the diurnal animals.  It was a late night and a first for Raquel who behaved particularly well!

What We Ate:

In the morning we visited the Grain Store for breakfast.   Mom had the Egg Sundae Royale with soft boiled eggs, avocado, parmesan, pea puree, tomato salsa and brioche, with a coffee.   The kids had scrambled eggs with toast and a fresh squeezed apple juice.  We took 3 cookies to go, which came in handy later during a few after breakfast errands.

For dinner at the Zoo, they served a feast.  Burgers, chicken, corn on the cob, and an amazing array of salads. And when we returned from our night walk there was milk and cookies before bed.



Where We Ate:

Grain Store

At the Melbourne Zoo Roar n’ Snore!

My Favourite Pictures Today

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Where We Slept:

Tonight we camped in tents at the Melbourne Zoo!

We Learned:

Kids can be really well behaved when they think that someone is watching… I guess there is some logic to telling your children that a supernatural being has His/Her eye on you.    We learned That the Melbourne Zoo uses a category system where animals are rated between 1 and 5 to determine how dangerous the animals are.  A tiger is a 1, so is a peccary.  We learned that the Melbourne Zoo is part of a worldwide breeding program.  And there are people whose job it is to make sure that genetic lines of different species do no crossed.  We learned that the zoo gets to choose the produce it buys from the grocery store before humans do.  We learned that possums rule the Zoo at night (as they do much of the city).   We learned that animals live longer in captivity than they do in the wild, and that the Melbourne Zoo works hard to ensure that all animal encounters are stress free for both animals and humans.



Reflection of the Day

The Best Part:

For Raquel:   sleeping in the tent, although she decided this before she actually slept in it.   Feeding a giraffe and petting a snake and tortoise was pretty cool too..

For Mom and Gali: Having an early night while the others went to the zoo.  Mom snuck in a movie on the couch and enjoyed the peace and quiet before the tornado of energy blew home in the morning.

The Worst Part:

Raquel:  Not seeing a peacock, her favourite animal.

Dad:  Waking up at 5am to the inconsiderate and disturbingly exotic sounds of a zoo.

Mom: Packing up for the start of our 5 month-road trip.


We'll Always Remember

  • Name: Annette and Izzy
  • Favourite Place: Home
  • I Love Travel Because: It's the best form of education, and it's nice to actually see the things you only see in pictures.
  • My Advice for Kids: Be kind, and enjoy the short time you have with your parents.
  • Name: Maria
  • Favourite Place: Hawaii
  • I Love Travel Because: It's food for my soul.
  • My Advice for Kids: Stay curious and be yourself.
  • Name: Michael
  • Favourite Place: Canada
  • I Love Travel Because: of the experience.
  • My Advice for Kids: Learn to love yourself, and never stop playing.
  • Name: Bek and Misty
  • Favourite Place: Tasmania
  • I Love Travel Because: It makes us wish we travelled more.
  • My Advice for Kids: Be a kid as long as possible, because before you know it, you're an adult and it's not as much fun.
  • Name: Julia
  • Favourite Place: The Kimberley and Horizontal Falls
  • I Love Travel Because: Cultures can teach you how to be a little more grateful.
  • My Advice for Kids: Be thankful, appreciate what you have and respect your parents!
  • Name: Jean
  • Favourite Place: Golden Bay, New Zealand
  • I Love Travel Because: It makes the most out of life, which is short, so experience as much as you can.
  • My Advice for Kids: Follow your heart.

  Today's Random Thing

  A Note from Mom and Dad

It was reassuring to see see Raquel behave well up to 11pm at the zoo.  Not having a rigid schedule sometimes has its benefits, as she managed to deal with an excursion that ran long after most kids her age would be sleeping.   There’s no doubt kids work best with schedules, but they can also limit your options.   Given the road trip to come, we’ve given up on any routine and just have to go with the flow, day by day.  Sometimes it works for us, and a lot of the time it doesn’t.  Either way, given the amount of ground we have to cover, we have little choice.

Raquel was a little freaked out by the dark, but perked up once we gave her a headlight.  Giving young kids control (or the illusion of control) goes a long way.  She also made friends pretty quickly with the other kids of all ages.  In the last couple weeks, she’s getting more confident to ask for what she wants, including the chance to touch reptiles.

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