Friday, November 7, 2008

Symbio and Stanwell Park

I have a list of places we plan to visit when we're in Australia and it's also my list of things to write about.

Next on the list was Symbio Wildlife Park. I felt a bit weary about doing another animal park post because I feared it might turn into another rant again. And really. How much can you really say about an animal park?


I was thinking I shouldn't just write about Symbio. I can write about the area it's in.

But first I'll talk about Symbio.

No, first I'll talk about our 2008 experience with another animal park. That was at Featherdale--which is somewhere between Sydney and Blue Mountains. I know this because we went there on our bus tour of the Blue Mountains.

I have a feeling Featherdale and Symbio won't be too much different from each other.

Oh yeah. I was going to talk about our experience at Featherdale. It was great! A lot of multi-tasking. Feeding emus and wallabies while at the same time trying not to step in their poop. I think we all succeeded with this.

Tim and our friend Greg were all into watching a crocodile get fed. There were crowds of people waiting to see this guy eat. I was offended by the whole thing. Here was this huge massive crocodile--something that could eat an adult human. And what do they feed it? A chicken leg! It was so small! I thought that was incredibly rude. It reminded me of those fancy expensive restaurants where you end up with this tiny little portion of food that you can finish off in four bites.

I know. I know. I'm American and we're too much into the big portion thing. We eat too much. But I think there needs to be a middle ground here.

Give the crocodile a full pig! For Pete's Sake. Or at LEAST the full chicken!

At Symbio, you can cuddle a koala at 12:00 and 3:00. I'm guessing you have to pay extra for this. It all reminds me so much of prostitution--which I totally support, by the way. I think prostitution should be totally legal. But I'll shut up about that now. Otherwise, this post might end up being twenty pages long.

It seems Symbio has animals that are not Australian--American Alligators and Meerkats from Africa. This totally throws me off. I had come to the conclusion that the difference between a zoo and wildlife park is that a zoo has animals from around the world, and a wildlife park has local animals only.

I guess I was wrong.

Or Symbio is breaking the rules.

Hey, they also have monkeys.

Why is it that Australia and North America don't have monkeys or apes? Oh, Europe too. I think life would be much more exciting if we all had monkeys walking about. It's kind of lonely being the only species of primate on your continent. At least I think so.

Symbio is involved with saving black bears in China. They're being used for their bile and like most animals who humans exploit, they're being abused. Very sad and I applaud Symbio for helping.

I have to admit though....I'm like Stephen Colbert when it comes to bears. Those animals give me the creeps. If I had a choice between encountering a crocodile or a bear, I'd probably pick the crocodile.

But despite this fear, I still believe ALL animals should be protected and not abused. It doesn't matter if I find them creepy or cute.

Now I'm going to look at the history of Stanwell Park. I think that's the suburb that houses our Symbio. This way when we drive to Symbio, I can proudly say I wrote about this town in my blog! I learned about the history.

Then Tim will say: Really. What did you learn?

I'll say: I totally forgot.

He'll say: Oh, okay.

Jack will say: Can we get a treat when we get there?

Looking at Google Maps now. Stanwell Park looks to be an hour or so from where our holiday park will be. I guess I can click the get directions thing and see the time.

Let's try it.

It's one hour and twenty-minutes. Translate that to Americans driving on the left side of the road with a faulty navigation system: two hours and thirty minutes.

We COULD walk there. Google says it would take us fourteen hours and fifty-four minutes. We'd just have to start the night before. We could have an early dinner and then start on our walk. Yes, we'll be tired. But the good news is we'll burn a lot of calories and Jack can have as many treats as he wants!

Oh what the heck. I think we'll just be lazy and drive.

Anyway, Stanwell Park is on the coast, right below Royal National Park. That sounds important. Maybe one day I should learn about that. All I do know for now is it seems to be between Stanwell Park and Sydney.

Well, just received some bad news. Stanwell Park is a VALLEY. A valley is between mountains which means we're likely to have to drive on a damn mountain. I hate driving on mountains! Although looking at the map, it doesn't seem like the mountains are an immediate threat. I could be wrong though. I've never been great at map-reading.

Stanwell Park involves a land grant. Big surprise! This one was given to Matthew John Gibbons. Lord Wiki hasn't made his name a link which makes me assume he wasn't that famous. But I'll check him out anyway.

He was a convict on the second fleet. He received a pardon and he married a free settler.

The area of Stanwell Park used to be called Little Bulli--Bulli being an Aboriginal word that means rising up.

Who were the Indigenous Australians of Stanwell Park?

The Wadi Wadi. I wrote about them a month or so ago, but I called them the Wodi Wodi. Some people use one spelling and some people use another spelling.

Oh! Some exciting Bushranger action. Mr. Gibbons the ex-convict hired a current convict to take care of the farm. John Paid, the convict used the area as a hideout for his gang. He took the nickname Wooloo Jack. That's a cool name. I should use it for a nickname for our Jack.

Stanwell Park had some other residents that were pretty darn important. There was the explorer Tom Mitchell and aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave. I remember reading about Hargrave. He's a pretty big deal. He used to be on the twenty dollar note. But not anymore, I guess. He was demoted.

I honestly don't know much about aviation science and Lord Wiki is having a difficult time explaining it to me. I'll just say he invented the box kite and was able to lift himself off the ground with these. That happened on Stanwell Park beach on November 12, 1894. Hey Hey, the 114th anniversary is coming up in a few days! Stanwell Park is known for good wind conditions. Lord Wiki says it's a good place for hang gliding and stuff like that. So, I think all of you living in Australia should travel to Stanwell Park on Tuesday and go fly a kite or something.

That's totally what I would do if I lived in Australia--and if I wasn't lazy.

What's more likely? Me living in Australia or me not being lazy. I don't know.

There's a Hindu Temple in Stanwell Park. This website says you can visit the Temple. Maybe we'll stop by.

There's a mansion that has a hat that looks like a witch's hat. That might be cool to see--if it's not too much out of our way.

Oh! Well, look at this. I'm not crazy. There actually is a Festival of Flight in Stanwell Park. It's on Saturday. When I post this, it will be Friday night Australia time. Most of you probably won't read it until Saturday morning.

Yeah, I know I'm not giving you a lot of warning. But there's still time! Turn off the computer and get in your car.

Am I being too pushy?

And who knows if this festival is even fun.

I just think it's cool that I decided to do research on this today and the event is tomorrow.

You know, I COULD post this today and give you guys more time to plan for your trip to Stanwell Park. But that would be breaking my rule of doing only one post a day. And I HAVE broken that rule once or twice before with this blog. But I aint doing it in November because I joined that damn thing where I have to post every single day. There's no way I'm doubling up.

Well, here's good news. At least it makes me feel better. If you miss the Festival of Flight, on Wednesday there's going to be some kind of kite memorial event with school children. How cute is that? A memorial to kites. No, joking. It's a memorial to Hargrave using kites.