Australia 2024: Zoo & Art

The penultimate bulletin on our 2023/2024 trip to Australia. In this episode we venture to Melbourne Zoo and Point Leo.

Yes, the mighty giraffe. There’s a bunch of them in Melbourne Zoo and they appeared to be in really excellent condition. Very attractive mammals. This post follows a series, being, Australia 2024: Melbs, Australia 2024: Point Lonsdale and Points Beyond and Australia in B&W. All part of the Australia 2023 suite, because I went home for Christmas.

Welcome back. Mrs Sachie and I have said goodbye to the kids and taken the train to Melbourne. First stop is a visit to the Zoo.

The baboon enclosure was the first we encountered and I’m going to say it, it was one of the best. There is a good-sized troop and they were exhibiting behaviour. Very social and uninhibited animals.

Seeing animals do anything other than pace up and down is pretty good. I would have stayed longer but it’s a big zoo and there is a lot to see.

Not an exhibit but the ducks were nice.

These ducks are having a snooze. It was fairly warm and the middle of the day when we arrived so many animals were a bit quiet.

I don’t know what these things are but they are taking it easy too.

There is the giraffe again. Lovely creatures. Time for lunch.

My favourite has always been the seals. They are spectacular but it looks like they only have two or three of them now. Did covid19 get them?

They had some sea-horses too, many aquariums and I find these animals absolutely delightful. Bloody hard to photograph though.

The zoo has a lot of space aside for their Asian elephants and it’s a pretty good display, Thai-style. No tigers here though, that we could see. For the record, Mrs Sachie and I live in Thailand and this is not a standard road sign.

Oh-oh, looks like some hippy-dippy LSD-inspired ‘trip’ though the butterfly house.

Bloody hell, it’s not bad though. This was my highlight of the visit. For a time there I thought I was in that other butterfly house. Well, I did grow up in the age of leaded petrol.

Mrs Sachie has a visitor.

A friendly insect, probably trying to mate

The air really was full of butterflies and the mood is one of lightness and joy.

Another one lands. Is it the same one?

Hey, get a room you two!

A couple of these monsters, not much smaller than my hand flew right over my head and I could feel the wind from their wings!

They have a display of cocoons. Some of them move. Some of them hatch!

Here is a newly-minted butterfly. Butterflies don’t last long, they’re basically only good for a quick shag and finding a place to lay their eggs so there must be a tremendous amount of work keeping up with the turnover.

Just outside, this was a nice sight. I grew up with coots on the lake but never saw many babies.

The orangutan enclosure is pretty nice and very popular, a great hit with the kids. I had to elbow a little Indian boy in the eye to get this shot.

This video is short because said child got in the way again but it was really astonishing to see these animals so close.

A bold claim perhaps but lots of things are above 90% genetically common with human: Cats, for instance. But what’s probably more important is the behaviour that we share with orangutans. They’re fairly social, use tools, build nests and are very smart. They’re about our size but slightly adapted for tree life. One could make a good argument that they are akin to a severely retarded human, people train them to put on tea-party shows or to box, and that perhaps we should think twice about putting them in cages. Then again, lots of retarded humans end up in cages as well. There’s a joke here about throwing stones in glass zoo enclosures but I just can’t make it work yet.

Here’s the stars of the show, Mrs Sachie’s any my favourites, the Meerkat.

Here’s the little guy keeping an eye out for snakes, hawks or any other creature out to do him or his ill. At this enclosure they have a mirror on a string that slowly spins, a common way to scare off birds. At the time I didn’t understand why but on later reflection, it’s probably to keep the wedgetail eagles from gobbling them up!

One of my favourites, the red pandas are damned cute.

Mrs Sachie’s favourite is the reptile house. She has a love of scaly, cold-blooded and bearded creatures that just sit around all day and that’s why she married me.

Love me, Sachie.

Look out lady! That’s the Tasmanian devil! He’ll have your hand off in two seconds flat. Luckily it was a very warm day and the devils were more interesting in lounging than lunging.

But enough zoo, time for art!

I know, magnificent isn’t it?

Dad and Ros took us to a fancy winery/fancy restaurant/fancy sculpture park at Point Leo. The weather wasn’t great, being summer and it was pretty busy so we didn’t bother with a wine tasting – these days you have to pay and they sell you the bottle for more than you pay in a shop – but the lunch was excellent.

Even this tree is art, see how it’s growing a face on its trunk?

I don’t know much about art but I know what I like.

The folks from Melbourne will know this lady’s work and this is a damn fine example.

Dad showing off his cubist leanings.

Here’s the view from the window at our table.

Mrs Sachie wasn’t impressed when I said that her jacket reminded me of these people.

Dad looks like he’s showing us a new piece of farm machinery.

The big head was a big draw and we all took turns to kneel down, raise our phone in reverence and record the occasion.

Here’s me and the big head. Hello Facebook profile picture!

Here’s their newest piece, by  Yayoi Kusama, called Pumpkin. Kudos for simplicity and straight-talking.

Here’s another top sculpture.

Of course, they can’t all be zingers. This one looks like it belongs at the gate of a bowling alley. Still good though.

Honestly, officer, it was like that when I got here.

Here’s the big star, and I mean big at about four stories tall.

On the whole, a very good afternoon. We barely had time to see everything and the park is surprisingly extensive. The grounds are nicely kept and it looks like a great place for a picnic. I’d be curious to see what it’s like on a sunny day, or even a 40-degree scorcher. Probably hell on earth.

Next stop. Here we are at Ros’ beach house in Flinders. The yard is looking in good shape.

This side of the peninsula the weather is lovely.

And here we are back home with a well-earnt glass of bubbly after a hard day’s eating and drinking. I think this post has gone on far long enough so I’ll draw a line under it. If I do one more post that should be it for the series and if I finish the series, that will be a first: I still haven’t finished the Georgia or Barcelona stuff yet!

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