As I held the baby crocodile I could hear it making a squeaky noise and I instantly became nervous. From watching every episode of the Crocodile Hunter, I knew that the squeaky sound the baby croc was making, was a call for help to it’s mother. Even though I was in the Billabong Sanctuary, and I knew that the mother was in another habitat, all I could picture was a 17 foot Saltwater Crocodile jumping out of the water and rescuing its baby. But excitement soon pushed the nerves away as I marvelled at the moment I was living. There I was, an 18-year-old Canadian, getting to be up close and personal with Saltwater Crocodiles. Not only do I love all animals and am completely fascinated by them, but since I was 10 I had been dreaming of visiting Australia and playing with Crocs, and I was finally doing that. I looked down at the little guy in my hands, and studied his cool eyes, scales, and long body. Crocs, like most reptiles, are misunderstood creatures and few people get to see them in real life let alone hold one. The little cutie was super cool and I fell in love with him. It was a once in a lifetime experience (unless you live in Townsville haha) that I will tell my grandchildren about.

While I was traveling around Australia, I stayed in the city of Townsville for three months and I took a trip to the Billabong Sanctuary. My day at the Sanctuary started off with the excitement of holding a baby croc and just got better and better. I took a selfie with Koala Bear, danced with a snake and cuddled with a furry little Wombat.

The day had a few highlights. Getting to feed and pet Kangaroos was one of them. The Kangaroos bounced around the whole Sanctuary and interacted with the guests. People could feed the roos, pet them and take pictures with them. The Aussies treated the Kangaroos like North Americans treat goats at petting zoos. I got some Roo food and walked up to a little grey guy. I stuck my hand out and he started to eat from my hand. He hung around me for awhile and I got to pet him and tell him that he was super cute and that I loved him. I was loving my life. I gave my camera to one of my traveling companions and tried to get my new furry friend to look at the camera. Pervious to this I had only seen these cute, bouncing Aussies on the Discover Channel, and now I was trying to get one to smile at the camera, I could not believe this was real life.

Soon after taking a rather disappointingly mediocre picture, my little Kangaroo bounced away and I walked over to see the Dingos. The Dingo Handler came out with a white, small German Shepard-like canine on a purple leash. He was adorable. The handler was telling us about how this is Australia’s tallest predator and how in the wild, Dingos are very dangerous. Everything he was saying was so hard to believe because as he was talking I was playing with the Dingo like he was a household pet. He was licking my face as I petted him. He rolled on his back and I gave him a tummy rub. I thought very hard about stealing the Dingo and taking him back to Canada to be my best friend forever, but I decided that wasn’t a great idea. Also, I’m pretty sure I said “the dingo ate my baby” in my best Aussie accent at least ten thousand times.

The last highlight of my day at the Billabong Sanctuary was getting to watch the adult Saltwater Crocodile being fed. As previously mentioned I am a huge fan of crocs, getting to see these dinosaurs close up (yet at a safe distance) was phenomenal. Being able to watch the almost 2,000-lbs animal jump out of the water and chomp down on a piece of meat with its powerful jaws was just remarkable. As I was watching the feeding, I thought back to earlier that day when I was holding the 20-lb baby croc. I thought about how that little guy would soon grow to be as big as the Crocodile I was watching. I was astonished that within a few hours I had a front row experience to the circle of life. It was sensational experience that reminded how precious our planet’s wildlife is.

The Billabong Sanctuary – Australian Wildlife Experience was one of the coolest places I visited while in Townsville, Australia. Australia has unique wildlife and being able to see the animals up close and interact with them all while learning more about them was an experience that I would recommend to all.