Sunday, 23 November 2008

Photos: Healesville Sanctuary

This was another Sunday day trip. We rented cars for the trip. This time we got Toyota Prius, a hybrid. It was interesting even to just get it started. This was my first car that does not have a key and is started with a push of a button. Our initial thoughts were that the car is cool and we were hoping to see what it can do.

We headed off towards the Alpine area, North-East of Melbourne. Went through Lillydale and the area looked familiar from the bike trip several weeks ago. We drove through some wonderful areas. The scenery gets definitely different as one moves into higher altitudes. There were lots and lots of farms and vineries along the way.

As the time went by, we were less and less impressed by the car. The engine seemed to roar as if there is only one gear. The power was small. Battery did not have enough capacity for a decent electric (EV) drive.

The main point of our trip was Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo and an animal hospital. It hosts only Australian animals and is not a typical zoo. It is used as a sanctuary for wounded animals and endangered species. Many animals can bee seen in their natural environment and without bars and fences. There is an animal hospital that is also open for the public too look around. A very modern and eye-catching design with all the rooms, where animals are treated, visible through the glass.
Koalas, emus, kangaroos, lizards, birds of prey, Tasmanian Devil... There are shows at certain times, where demonstrators show the animals and give a brief lecture about them. We briefly saw the one with lizards and koalas but were on time to watch the whole show on birds of prey. That was simply amazing. Birds were flying just above our heads and acting almost as if being remotely controlled. Unbelieveable. We watched an eagle breaking an egg with a stone, a hawk catching nuts thrown into the air. The whole tour was entertaining and enjoyable.

After that we headed off to the vineries in the region. We went around two places, looking at the vineyards, beautiful scenery, and talking to the hosts there. Wine tasting and discussion about wines was impressive.

In the afternoon we headed back to the city. I drove the car on the way back and was quite pleased with the performance. After seeing the fuel usage statistics and comparing them to the second car - Ford Falcon, which used a quarter of its fuel tank while we did not spend even 10%, we were impressed. Shifting between the electric motor and the petrol one seems to work really well if the drive is in mostly urban areas with low speed limits. The car interior is spacious and the visibility is extraordinary. There is a lower part of the back window that allows for an excellent rear parking visibility. I'm sure the newer generation is even better and I'm hoping to own one of these vehicles one day.

The finishing touch for the night was an authentic Japanese restaurant where we had dinner in a tatami room. The whole interior looked more traditional than any other place I've seen. Tatami mats, shoji screens between compartments, lamps, table arrangement... There was an ad for a night of traditional Japanese music night in two weeks, that is to be held at the venue.

Beautiful end of the week. The photos are here.

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