Scaredy Cat and a Box of Birds
Fear rises through my body and transcends into a spine-tingling shiver. Images of scaly feet, sharp claws and strong bites flash to mind. I shudder. Down the expanse of dirt road, my feet lead the rest of my hesitant body. Domineering eucalyptus trees line the path, trailing up into the hills. The sky is an expanse of azure and the emerald sea is almost within arm’s reach.
Friends rush ahead and start fossicking on the ground for seeds. And then they come. One swoops low, head-height and I duck instinctively. My companions extend the seed in each of their hands and soon they’re flocking towards us. Flashes of green, red and yellow zoom overhead.
We came for Koalas originally. Cruising down Great Ocean Road on a gloomy spring day, we pulled up in Lorne. Lunch at the local burger bar hit the spot and we encountered some rowdy locals in the process. Two noisy Cockatoo’s knew where the good grub was. They weren’t shy about overseeing our meal either. In fact, it invoked a bit of a scrap as they grabbed the best possie to commandeer stray chips. Our table must have been a pre-arranged hangout. One of the birds received female company and he even scored a kiss.
A trip to the Lorne Visitor Centre revealed our suspicions to be correct. Koalas can be seen in the wild, just down the road in fact. Kennett River Holiday Park is well-positioned off the Great Ocean Road, next to Otway National Park. It’s a pleasant two and a half hour drive from Melbourne. This is where they choose to rest their cute furry grey heads.
Koalas must be close now. We find a few subtle clues: a giant Koala mural and a signpost pointing towards a row of eucalyptus trees. A few fluffy grey tails are firmly parked on branches amongst eucalyptus. These native Aussies certainly do not share our enthusiasm towards the encounter. Frankly, I think they’re less than impressed with our ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and camera snaps.
Then they descend upon us. No, not the Koalas, their feathered friends: the King Parrots. That’s the second time birds have stolen the show today. King, it’s a rather appropriate title for such a bird. From our visit today, it’s clear where we stand. The Parrots have the crown and we, mere mortals, are their moving thrones.
Keen to dispel my apprehension towards bird life, I decide to participate. They’re all too busy playing with their new parrot pals to notice my discomfort. I gingerly place seed in my hand. A cheeky King Parrot swoops and perches atop my head. I freeze. A Koala lazily gazes in my direction. “Tourists” he thinks.
King Parrots and Koalas can be found at Kennett River Holiday Park, which is a two and a half hour drive from Melbourne. For more information, click here.