Went with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on their 24th annual Taronga Park Zoo visitation. We’re told to wear sensible shoes, a hat, and that the event will go ahead in all weathers. The first highlight is the amazing ferry trip across Sydney Harbour, with a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the visiting Queen Mary cruise ship.
Mostly international Mardi Gras visitors attend this excursion so they can appreciate our local fauna, and the Sisters, led by Mother Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, provide a hilarious commentary of poems dedicated to each animal and – to the shock of attendees – early colonial recipes for eating them! Kangaroo tail is to be made like oxtail soup, and black swans should be cooked in a moderate oven for two hours. There were also tips on how to make a delicious Galah Pie and Roast Wombat!
The free-flight bird show was amazing with red-tailed cockatoos, condors and eagles grabbing gold coins and picking up rubbish. We did several “animal encounters, getting up close with koalas, possums, lizards and snakes. Keepers informed us about conservation efforts to save the Tasmanian Devil from a rare form of cancer that’s decimating them.
I always love the fact that when the first stuffed platypus was taken back to England, they thought it was a fake animal sewn from others and stuck together, as it was too incredible to be real.
The Sisters aren’t paid for the tour – the faithful flock donates to animal conservation by throwing money onto their scapulars.
We gathered at the View restaurant afterwards for much fun and frivolity with Sister Salomé of the 9th Mystic Rhinestone, Sister Rowena – Keeper of the Holy Doily, Sister Eileen Dover (“I leaned over”) and Sister Premenstrualtensia among others.
We even got free spiritual advice, as one of the Sisters practises Wicca and suggested a place in Centennial Park that people visit at dawn to do a spiritual exercise walking around a giant sandstone labyrinth. While walking towards the centre, you release your cares; breathe in peace when you reach the middle; then feel the strength to re-engage with the world as you walk outwards.