After my 2 and a half hour zoom north from Sydney with my 4-door sedan on cruise control (and a well behaved GPS I might add – see previous post for GPS throttling!) I arrived at a teeny town called Salt Ash.
Oakvale Farm is an open-plan zoo/farm where not all the animals are in cages. (The violent cassowary being an exception).
I got there in time for the 2pm bottle feeding (also 11am) of the baby animals fed by baby people. Isn’t it cute how babies love babies. Lambs, kids (that is, goatlets) and piglets all greedily slobbered down their milk from bottles. I kept my hands clean and far away.
My fave area was the Koala enclosure where you can pat the sleepy marsupials. You’re just like a stuffed toy, I thought as I pushed my camera into this one’s face.
Oakvale is part of a working farm but 8.5 hectares are home to kangaroos with joeys sticking out of their pouches. The oddest sight I’ve ever seen – just legs sticking out. How is it breathing?? It had been jumping around until it saw me then dived in to hide. But at a year old and weighing nearly 5 kgs, it’s a tolerant mum who ate pellets from my hands.
There’s dingoes (in cages), water buffalo, camels, alpacas, emus, ostriches, Shetland ponies (including the stallion that was so small I wanted to laugh, but that would have given him a complex) and Clyde the draught horse who wander in their paddocks. Parrots, cockatoos, geese and other squawkers made it clear they wanted me to drop grain. Some even said ‘hello’. However I didn’t feed the cassowary. These birds will have you dinner if you get too close!
Recently opened is the Reptile Ravine. 16 exhibits of creepy, slithery crawlies. Some of Australia’s deadliest snakes are wrapped around gum tree branches (in their own glass cages), as well as turtles and fresh water crocs swimming in their personlised swamps as well as lizards eating greens. Kids are taken around in a free train and school groups and families with picnics love to spend the afternoon here. Definitely worth dropping in to on your way to Port Stephens.
For more info on getting around New South Wales and what to see, check out Tourism Australia’s website.