Fauna Australia Wildlife Retreat

My lodging for tonight is at Fauna Australia Wildlife Retreat (Update: currently closed due to COVID).

The retreat rescues and rehabilitates animals. Guests can stay at the retreat and learn about their rescue efforts while also supporting the organization by paying to stay at the retreat.

There are a set of rooms accessible from outside the retreat but my lodging is in a cabin inside the retreat. There is a deer that follows me to my cabin.

The retreat technically doesn’t rescue deer but the story is that this guy just showed up and hasn’t gone away since.

The cabin is family sized and big for just me but it is all that is available at the time of booking.

I drop my bags and take a couple carrots to go meet some animals on site.

On my first day I only notice the caged koalas. I find out the next day that most of the koalas on site are able to roam free and the caged are baby koalas that don’t have the intelligence to not wander off and get hurt; they are enclosed for their protection. The adults stick around because they are fed regularly.

Fenced in area.

Creepy deer that follows me everywhere. I am getting stalked for my carrots.

I have a stalker

After handing out some carrots I go back to my cabin to settle in before I head out to see glow worms tonight.

Melba Gully Glow Worms

There is a short drive from the retreat to the Melba Gully Day Visitor Area (Great Otway National Park). Tonight I want to see glow worms since there is only a few places in the world you can view them. Glow worms (Arachnocampa otwayensis) are the bioluminescent larvae of small flies seen at night only along the stream banks and walking tracks.

I am a terrible judge of when nightfall is. I arrive to the Melba Gully trail and I am the only car there. It is still light outside but the sun is setting. I am starting to question that this solo visit is a good idea. I gather my headlamp and head down the path anyway.

I arrive at a clearing where I get a nice view of dusk.

I take the walking track toward the glowworm viewing.

One of the walkway paths

I am walking on a path through a rainforest. It is damp and I see a stream of water and listen to its meditative flow. Darkness unfolds. It is almost pitch back except for a slight bit of sunsetting light. I can’t see what is around me but I hear water flowing below and the sound of something moving around in the dark maybe; or maybe I just the hear water hitting rocks, or maybe it is an animal. Almost an hour has passed and I am still out here alone. This seems to be turning out to be another one of those “this isn’t the best idea and I could get murdered” situations; I have had a few of these traveling solo but have been lucky thus far. I walk back and forth along the boardwalk and start spotting a glow worm or two as it finally darkens. They are hard to see but I start picking them out.

I don’t have the right camera for taking pictures of glow worms but I do capture a couple.

Can you see it?
How about these guys????

They are really cool to see but I just can’t stick around. I have already been here over an hour all alone. I am scared and feel like I am pressing my luck as far as safety is concerned. As I take the return journey I walk by a couple arriving, and then a family, and then another. I have already made it so far back on the trail and feel committed to leaving. I return to my car even though it most likely it would have been safe to stay at this point. At least I see SOME glow worms….and luckily I’ll get another chance in New Zealand.

I drive back to the retreat. It is getting chilly so looking forward to cuddling under blankets tonight. I do spot this nocturnal guy on my walk back.

Sorry for flashing light in your eyes lil buddy

The next morning I wake up early as I always do. They have a set checkout time and I have a while to wait so I walk around the grounds greeting some more animals and handing out the rest of my carrots.

creepy flying foxes giving me the eye

The Kangaroos

On my way out I get to meet some of the retreat staff members and have a meet and greet with the three naughty baby koalas. I learn many things about koalas.

I like how they don’t encourage guests to handle the animals. They seem to do a good job with rehabilitation.

Below is a little video of all the animals I see….

This lodging is a unique experience. I am so glad I found it.

Kuranda and Rainforests


Today I am going to see a little bit of rainforest in Australia. I am visiting the hill town of Kuranda via a historic trail ride and returning to Cairns via a skyrail over the rainforest.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

I start by taking a two hour old-timey train ride to the rainforest town of Kuranda (Freshwater station to Kuranda station).

My first seat assigned has me awkwardly seated with a large family. Luckily the ride is not full and I can switch to empty seats in another car.

With the train windows open I get the crisp smell of nature and a cool breeze from water before we start ascending into the mountain range.

The train narrator tells us the story of how the tracks and tunnels were built. There are settlement towns that existed around the tunnels to support them being built, even a brewery/distillery at one time.

There are two bends and one stop (Barron Falls).

We make our stop at Barron Falls where we view the falls off into the distance and stretch our legs. It starts raining during this stop so we run back in to our seats after some quick photos.

Barron Falls from the train.

When the train history commentary is complete they play fun train songs such as “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum.

We finally arrive at the station in Kuranda but it is pouring. I hang back to see if the rain lightens and order myself a ham toastie (grilled cheese toasted sandwich).

The town of Kuranda isn’t really a exciting destination for a couple hour trip. Kuranda has a hotel or two and mostly shopping and some kitschy sightseeing. I am able to purchase some souvenirs and clothing items that are much needed. Prices are not cheap by any means but hopefully they are good quality additions to my travel wardrobe.

There is a colorful area with cafes where people can purchase lunch. Unfortunately I had that very filling toastie so am not hungry.

There is a little nature path through a mini-rainforest. I spend a few minutes walking through there.

I’ve seen just about everything I want to see in Kuranda but I am early for my skyrail trip. The lines are short so they let me start my skyrail return trip early.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

View down below of the colorful train

Since the Kuranda village at the top was kind of boring and uneventful I had little hope for the skyrail. The skyrail is basically a gondola that takes you over a rainforest. I am pleasantly surprised when I get a private car and start moving. I immediately start hearing the sounds of birds in nature and have the most magnificent views of the rainforest. It’s been raining on and off all day but the cable way goes so long that I am able to escape the rain. The route is 7.5km long.

There are stops on the way down and one gives a vantage point of a beautiful waterfall. The waterfall Barron Falls is the same one I saw during my trail stop, this time I get a better view.

I am back in my cablecar to finish my return journey. As I get closer to the station I am rewarded of great views of the coast.

Since I am back early I have a little while before my van arrives. I find a place to charge my phone inside the giftshop. With all the beautiful scenery I give my phone battery a large workout today.

After the van takes me back to my hostel I walk back toward town to get something to eat. I settle on this pizza from The Lush Pizza Co.

CHICK’N’PERI (chicken, onion, peppers with peri peri sauce)

I get a chance to wander around town after dark. Cairns is not a large and lively town but the peace and quiet suits me fine at this point in my travels.

Tomorrow I am off to my Great Barrier Reef cruise. Hopefully the weather is good.