We needed twenty attendees for this excursion to get the 45% discounted entry fee. A number of last minute scratchings created some concern. Waiting patiently at the Crossroads Hotel at Casula with a limited amount of vehicles and members – it looked a bit ominous. However, things started looking up. Eamonn arrived with his wife, Wendy two kids of his own and his son’s friend – and John suddenly appeared – we may make it after all!
Anthony volunteered to lead the convoy – a distinct plus – and the string of Z vehicles (and supplementary vehicles to carry the extra people) headed towards the M5. The traffic flow was relatively light and the convoy proceeded without incident until it reached the Heathcote Rd turnoff. The Princes Motorway was reached and Anthony slowed so the convoy could reform. It was necessary at times to travel 10-15kms/hr under the speed limit which caused other traffic to overtake and block the view of the tail-enders of the convoy. However, it all came together and no one got lost.
Arriving at the Symbio Wildlife Park and joining up with the members who had driven directly to the venue – there was an anxious moment as heads were counted. Whew! Twenty adults and four kids ( in fourteen vehicles) . Ray then had the dilemma of what the kids would be charged for the entry fee as this hadn’t been part of the original calculation. Fortunately the Symbio staff discounted the kids’ entry fee because of the numbers involved. It took some time for the large group of Zedders to get into the zoo as fees were paid individually.
With the supplied maps of the zoo the group diffused into the park to observe the variety of animals. There was a Meerkat exhibition held a short time after the group arrived and most of the Zedders stayed to watch . An interesting talk was given by the attendant on the habits and peculiarities of the Meerkats. Moving on to the Reptile Enclosure revealed a collection of lizards and some smaller alligators.
Alongside the Meerkat enclosure was a collection of miniature Marmots (similar to the ones that were recently stolen). A Koala Bear enclosure was nearby but with a “look no touch” policy. Plenty of Kangaroos were roaming freely in their own enclosure and these were allowed to be handled by the public (to the delight of the children present).
The group separated and wandered around the other exhibits which included Ring – Tailed Lemurs, Wombats, Cassowarys, Red Pandas, Monkeys, Dingos and Goats. The weather was getting hotter (around 29 degrees C) and the Zedders started looking for more shady exhibits. There was a sole Sumatran Tiger who seemed to have a bad back and appeared to have trouble walking around its enclosure. Two Cheetahs in a separate enclosure were fast asleep and totally ignored the number of spectators milling around for a better look. Bird displays, Emus and a display of farmyard animals rounded off the tour. By this time, with the constant heat and humidity – the group decided to head off for lunch.
Lunch had been booked at the nearby Helensburgh Workers Club (Tradies). The one minute trip became a ten minute trip for one Zedder who made a disastrous wrong turn. However, ultimately, all the Zedders got organized for lunch . The next problem was that the original booking was for twenty persons – so there had to be some supplementary tables and chairs added to keep the group together. Meals were reasonably priced ( some of the group ordered the $10 specials) and of above average quality . Service was excellent – although wine was at a rather premium price. Overall, Tradies had a very pleasant ambience.
The excursion had proven to be very successful with an interesting range of somewhat unique animals at the Symbio Wildlife Park . The displays were well presented and informative and everyone enjoyed the experience. Rounding off the day was the relaxing atmosphere of the Helensburgh Workers Club , good food and excellent companionship.