We got to the zoo at about 6.30pm, just as the sun was making everything yellowy gold and the winds were getting fresh. After a warm day I was suddenly glad I'd brought my coat along. It's a really beautiful time of year here just now, with warm (by our standards, and hot by my old London ones!) bright sunny days and gorgeous sunsets, coupled with plunging temperatures and cool, clear blue nights. Beautiful.
We bumped into some familiar faces in the queue, including the lovely Cheryl and Lou. We put on our i-pod-like devices and headphones, which reminded me of the ones at MONA – which makes sense, as the same company made them! Just like when I visited MONA, my initial reaction was oh, no, can't really bothered, which disappeared with my first press of the button. Great graphics as well as great information. It is a bit odd, at first, putting on headphones and not being able to talk with your friends anymore, but it puts you in the right frame of mind for the tour almost straight away. We chose our animals from the menu, which put us into groups, and we were on our way. I chose the giraffe. Part of why I don't go to zoos often is because I find it sad to see these beautiful animals in captivity, so far away from their homes. Of course, the positive reason of this is the fight against extinction. The Zoo is a Not For Profit conservation organisation and runs breeding and recovery programs for threatened species. Knowing that it isn't just gawping at exotic animals makes it a very different experience for me – a good one! First up: lions! It is very lush in the zoo, and lovely to walk around in the evening light. Piggy Beasts! Or actually peccaries – skunk pigs. They have retro crooner hairstyles. I am not going to spoil it for you, so if you want to know why there is a space man in this enclosure, go see it! Zebras. A first for me: I've been in Australia for just over nine years and this is the closest I've ever been to a koala! I don't have the best eye sight and couldn't see it at the time, but look closely: there is a baby koala nestling under that right arm! Noble, majestic giraffes – and their waggly comedy tongues. It was feeding time. Then an even less expected bit of the tour. John and I sat down. Unexpected for the blog, too, is my choice of footwear. Lots of walking means dunlops for me. Amazing clear night sunset. Palm tress and a small moon! And then something I was so looking forward to: the amazingly beautiful carousel! I think it's been even longer since I went on one of these than it is since I last visited a zoo! I was overjoyed at going on this and quick to hop on a grey horse. The music played added to the magic; Smashing Pumpkins! More giraffes. A peacock sauntered over to have a look. But by the time we got off the carousel, he had gone... flown up into a tree! And yes, this is his bum. Does the jaunty angle of my name tag offset my causal footwear? No? Oh well. Note to self: aim for straighter pinning of tags in the future. I'd unintentionally matched my dunlops to my coat, and to my vintage dress, but it was too cold to take my coat off so you'll have to take my word for it! I have been thinking about shortening this coat a little, so it flares out more, what do you think? And then it was home time. This view of the city is amazing, and I wish I could photograph it better. It is only a couple of km from the city (although it took a 45 minute car ride from the city thanks to Melbourne's rush hour traffic, boo!) but there is this pocket of huge open grassy spaces and running and bike tracks. It's a beautiful bike ride through this part of Melbourne, and I recommend it. And I highly recommend I, Animal, too – it really was such a special evening.