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koala lovin'
on magnetic island

Koala sleeping in tree

Koalas may be the pinnacle of evolution on this planet.  Biologists may disagree but consider the compelling evidence we have gathered below.

Koala sleeping in tree Koala cuddled in tree
First, koalas sleep for 18 to 20 hours per day.  I would love to get that type of rest.  Wouldn't you?

Baby koala in tree Baby koala close up

They have no natural predators because they stay in the upper reaches of the trees and their gray fur blends in with the tree trunks.  In fact, do you see the baby koala in the first picture?  Look a little bit closer and you'll see him.  His mother abandoned him one month ago so he is still a baby.

Koala close up

Humans obviously can spot koalas but no human should hurt something so darn cute.  If you get close enough to touch one, then you will immediately fall in love because their soft, curly fur feels like it was made for a teddy bear.  I give you Exhibit A - Patrick enamored by a koala:

Patrick holding a koala

They know what they like to eat, too; they prefer several types of eucalyptus tree to the many hundreds of species found in Australia.  (Do you see the very cute baby clinging to its mother's back in the pictures below?  We were in raptures.)

Baby koala with mama koala in tree Baby koala with mother in tree on Magnetic Island
And, then, they have two thumbs while we only have one.  At first, we couldn’t figure out why this was an evolutionary advantage but then it dawned upon us: video games.

Koala paws

[I am going to ignore for the moment that the koalas mimic a dysfunctional reality TV show because the males rape the female koalas, come back 30 days later to ensure that they will impregnate the female and rape the females again, and then abandon the females.  In turn, once the baby koala is old enough to start wandering on his own, his mother leaves him to fend for himself.  I am also going pretend that baby koalas don't eat their mothers diarrhea for several days after leaving the womb because I can't see how that would be an evolutionary advantage.  Let’s just focus on how cute they are, shall we?]

Koala sleeping in tree

We have spent the last few weeks trying to turn ourselves into koalas by strategically sleeping a lot.  No success so far.

Details

Magnetic Island views Magnetic Island views
Banyan trees at Magnetic Island Banyan tree on Magnetic Island
Every zoo, wildlife park, and animal refuge in Australia includes the koala.  If you want to see them in the wild, we highly recommend that you head to Magnetic Island, which has one of the largest populations of koalas living in the wild.  After our disappointing trip to the Whitsundays, we were worried that Magnetic Island would be another typical resort town.  To our pleasant surprise, the majority of the island has been designated a natural park, few (if any) resorts are located on the island, and everything on the island closes by 9:00 p.m.  In this unspoilt habitat, we were lucky enough to find a mother and two baby koalas lounging about in eucalyptus trees by the side of a road and a walking trail.

Bungalow Bay Village Bungalow Bay Village
We stayed at Bungalow Bay Village, an eco-friendly establishment.  Each A-frame bungalow includes a comfortable bed, small refrigerator, and fan.  We opted for a double room with air conditioning; the twin rooms have cots and no air conditioning. 

Akila holding a python

The Village is attached to a koala reserve, where Patrick and I had the opportunity to hold a koala, cockatoos, and a python.  In the afternoon, lorikeets landed on our heads and possums and wallabies jumped out of the bushes at night as we walked through the hostel.

Lorikeets in garden at Bungalow Bay Village on Magnetic Island Lorikeets on Patrick's head
Lorikeet Lorikeets feeding at Magnetic Island
We wish we had brought our car from Townsville onto Magnetic Island.  Because we didn’t, we rented a moke --- a car that looks like a tropical-colored 1980s Ford Escort with the doors removed --- and a four wheel drive jeep during our stay.  The moke was useless because the bus service went to all the same places.  But, our four wheel drive jeep helped us get to the tip of the island to watch the sunset.

Sunset on Magnetic Island

If you don’t make it up to Magnetic Island, check out Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney where visitors can pet koalas and feed kangaroos and wallabies (or watch the wallabies feed themselves).  This is a great zoo for kids so it should be a must-see attraction for families in Sydney.

Wallaby with ice cream cone

10/14/2009 16:16
Great pictures, as always. I held my first koala this year in Adelaide and I can safely say I'll never be the same again! Terrible to hear that they are threatened by a retrovirus - I hope they will figure out a way to stem the transmission soon. Looking forward to your next entry!
10/14/2009 16:52
Meatball77
Aw, that Koala is so cute
10/16/2009 10:41
Wow! I would love to be able to hold a koala!
10/18/2009 09:54
Vinay Gangoli
The koalas are adorable (No matter what they eat)! But i love kangaroos as well...and what is he drinking off of? great pics guys!
10/18/2009 19:24
Thanks all! They are so cute in real life - we could barely believe it.

Jodi, I hadn't heard about the retrovirus. It sounds like the retrovirus isn't impacting populations in isolated colonies like those on Magnetic Island but the ones on the mainland are suffering.

Actually, Vinay, we have had a really tough time finding kangaroos here. We've seen lots of dead kangaroos by the side of the road because kangaroos mostly come out at night. We've only seen two kangaroos in the wild since we've been here.
Akila's recent blog post: koala lovin' on magnetic island
10/26/2009 05:23
Aww you got some amazing koala shots! I love that opening one especially :D
10/28/2009 20:00
Jessica
Can I somehow opt out of seeing snake photos? :) Otherwise, gorgeous!
10/29/2009 04:35
Thanks Lorraine! We got even better pictures at the Tower Hill Reserve which I am going to post soon.

Jessica, Thanks! Even though they look intimidating,it isn't so scary holding a python. Because they strangle, they do not have any venom. They do have the tendency to wrap around pretty quickly so you have to keep your eye on them when you're holding them. There was a poor girl with us who was so frightened that she kept screaming and yelping the entire time it was near her. Patrick wasn't too thrilled about holding it either. :)
10/29/2009 22:50
Um, those are pretty much the cutest pictures ever! I have been dying to go to Australia, and getting to hold a koala bear would rock my world (I would look just as enamored as Patrick!). These are wonderful images -- I love the color in the photos of the birds.
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11/01/2009 01:11
Loved the photos and commentary! So glad that Patrick finally saw Koala's in their natural habitat! Love the part about the wallaby feeding himself - you forgot to mention the part in which it becomes comatosed from too much food ;)
02/25/2010 04:55
Now I get that annoying voice that girls tend to get when they see something cute - AAAaaaaawwwwwwwww!!! Look at it!!
I too got to hold one, it's just like a big round cuddle ball... it's almost as cute as my nice (understand me right there, my nice isn't hairy).
03/02/2010 06:32
Emily, thanks! Holding the koala was pretty darn amazing.

Thanks Dianne! Patrick couldn't stop smiling for hours after he held the koala (and, frankly, neither could I.)

Sofia, I know - it's just a ball of cuddliness, though a lot heavier than we expeced. Almost, but not quite as cute as our nephew, either.
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06/03/2010 04:13
Cute animal...In my country there's no koala, so I am exited to know about this animal.
07/26/2010 02:33
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07/28/2010 22:00
It's really my dream to see a Koala live. I will go to Australia for this when I have the chance too. What a cute and funny animal..
10/01/2010 20:09
hi mate
these are nice pics
i love so much
Thanks for sharing.,
11/26/2010 00:36
Wonderful post. I love Koala. They are no harmful and very quite. In these days because of human and natural disaster , they are dissapearing from our planet.We all together need to commit for them and save them. These kinda article on wild life and nature is very good for all. Thanks for sharing those photos above. God bless you and Koala.
04/21/2011 10:39
Love this! You did give me more info about Koala (uh... the diarrhea part is nothing I would really want to know.. hehe).

That seems like a great place to visit. I would love to stay in village.
10/02/2011 17:52
Hi Akila and Patrick, I live in Townsville and have spent many holidays on Magnetic Island. The walk you saw koalas on would be the Forts walk. They are always beside that track, although some people miss them because they don't know to look up into the trees. This was an informative and accurate post. Love the photos. I am at Budget Travel Talk on facebook.
10/03/2011 12:19
Thanks so much Jan! We loved that walk where we saw all the koalas --- they were tough to find, though.
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09/05/2012 03:14
Let us protect the rare animals for the more beautiful life.
07/02/2013 12:05
What a treat! I would love to see these adorable animals up in the trees and especially be able to hold a koala! Loved the post and the photos!
07/14/2013 15:05
Thanks Barbara!

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