Come See Me Down Under! (Ummmm Not Biblically)

On November 26, I’ll be at The Amaz!ng Meeting in Sydney of course, and the few of you who managed to snap up tickets are very lucky indeed! But what about you poor, poor souls who weren’t so wealthy/lucky?

Good news!

I’ll be poncing around Australia and New Zealand a bit, so you can still see me and say hello! If you’re in one of these areas and want to recommend cool stuff to do, please do so in the comments! And if you want to do them with me, let me know and maybe that could happen. Please do not suggest sex! We all thought of that joke already so it needn’t be mentioned again. Here are things I would like to see and/or touch while in either country: koala, kangaroo, dingo, poisonous spider, kiwi, and a ghost. I would also like to ride a whale, and again, I mean that in a non-sexual way. I will also accept touching a dolphin (non-sexualoh just forget it).

Here’s the rundown:

December 1: Melbourne
I’ll be doing a free lecture along with Brian Dunning! Because it’s free, I will decrease the quality by approximately 50%, as is the industry standard. But it’ll still be pretty damn awesome!

Bridie O’Reilly’s
29 Sydney Road
Brunswick, Australia

December 2: Victoria
[EDIT: Sorry, apparently this is all booked!]

Then I go to New Zealand, hooray! I’m doing three dates . . . I know some of you are near Dunedin but sorry, your local group never got in touch with the other NZ skeptics so as of now this is it:

December 7th : Christchurch
The Twisted Hop from 7pm (feel free to show up early though)
Tickets are $5. Sign up and pay beforehand to guarantee a place in the limited-size venue (110 max):
Details and Signup
There will be door sales if there is spare capacity, but you have been warned!

December 9th : Wellington
The Backbencher, 34 Molesworth Street
Tickets are $20.
Details & Signup

December 11 : Auckland
The Crib, 151 Ponsonby Road, 7pm
This is a dinner event – Tapas style food (ED: Sweet I love tapas!). Tickets are $40 which includes the dinner. Please arrive on time.
Edit: Dinner tickets are now live!
DOOR SALES ARE UNLIKELY as the venue needs to know dinner numbers in advance.

December 16: Sydney
That’s right, I’ll be back in Sydney just before jetting back to the other side of the planet. This will be a talk and/or Q&A type of deal with the University of Sydney Atheist Society. More info coming soon!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. While in Sydney you could visit Taronga Park Zoo to see koalas, kangaroos and possibly dingoes. The Zoo is a short ferry ride across the Harbour. Melbourne also has a zoo. For poisonous spiders just keep checking your shoes and clothes before putting them on (kidding).

    There are ghost tours of the Rocks area in Sydney. The Rocks is at the Harbour end of George Street about 1.5 km from the venue.

    If you want to relax visit Bennalong Point (the Opera House) sit and watch the Harbour go by while consuming alcoholic beverages.

    If anyone offers you a ride to the Blue Mountains, take it. Not just anyone of course. It can be done as a day trip by train.

    Climbing the Harbour Bridge is excellent but expensive and you need to book in advance. You can also walk over the footpath for free; a nice view but tiring.

    There are dolphin feeding sessions at Tangalooma on Moreton Island near where I live (1000 km north of Sydney). I cannot recall any such activities near Sydney or Melbourne. There are swim-with-the-dolphins tours in New Zealand on both the south and north islands, but they are a long way from the cities you are visiting.

    Between Wellington and Auchland there is Wiamo. There you can slide 100 m down a rope into a cave and stroll about. As well you can float down an underground river on an inner tube and look at the glow worms shitting. If you are travelling by car from Wellington to Auchland it is roughly half way. It is expensive but excellent.

    Get a copy of Lonely Planet Australia and New Zealand at a London library for some research.


  2. As I have no idea what sort of transport you have, or what time you have available, you can get an idea of the Victorian wildlife here:-

    Or here

    You aren’t allowed to ride any Whales, dolphins, tuna, or even penguins…(in a sexual or non-sexual manner ) This is no due to our Govenments prudish attitude ;-)

    In NZ you might want to visit the Maori Village in Rotoroa.

  3. Dennis just about summed it all up for you Rebecca and I totally agree with him.
    For such a limited time , the Taronga Zoo is the best option for the cute and cuddly. They also have an excellent info section on arachnids and reptiles.
    Melbourne is a great place for live music and beers at the beach. Cosmic Psychos play at the Tote Hotel this Friday. I’ll see you in Melb and we’ll see who’s on then.


  4. @Dennis Bowden: That’s awesome, thanks!

    I do have plans to do the bridge climb, and also the glowworm cave! Glad to hear they’re local-approved. Oh, and Amazon is taking FOREVER with my Lonely Planet NZ book but it should be here tomorrow.

    Q: Can I hug a koala at the Taronga zoo?I’d like to hug a koala.

  5. I love Sydney and one of the best times I remember (could depend on the weather) was a catamaran sightseeing cruse around Sydney Bay that included snacks and wine. This wouldn’t require any transportation other than a walk to the dock and I don’t recall that it was very expensive.

    On the cheap side is a fairly short drive to Sydney Harbor National Park. The viewpoint from the top of North Head facing south across the opening of Sydney Harbor is stunning, amazing and all that stuff. I personally find this type of view much more impressive than what you’d find in the Blue Mountains.

    There’s also a group of restaurants under sail type awnings south of the Opera House where you can eat outside with a view across Sydney Cove looking at the Harbor Bridge. I also enjoyed the Australian Maritime Museum at Darling Harbor if you like that sort of thing. And I wouldn’t miss a chance to play the New South Wales Golf Course on the ocean just south of Sydney by Botany Bay.

    And sorry you’ll miss you at the SGU broadcast/reception/dinner in Vancouver!!

  6. The Twisted Hop has an excellent, excellent, and may I add excellent beer tasting/flight/whatever. OMG, you get to pick six from something on the order of 10 or 12 really different beers. And they were all fantastic. And the food was great, too.

    Also in Christchurch, if you have 3 hours to kill, check out the Bone Dude (website easy to find) where you can carve a bone pendant for Sid, or to give away as a door prize at the next event.

    In Auckland, dress up and go for drinks at Shanghai Lil’s on Parnell, hanging out on a couch among the Chinese antiques.

  7. I think you’ll like the Backbencher, it’s full of little statues that are caricatures of our politicians.

    One thing you might want to do in Wellington is visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Admittedly it recently got named Religious Moron of the Week by George Hrab, but you can go see the colossal squid.

  8. Hi Rebecca,

    It’s so sad that I’ll probably miss you cos I’m in SA.
    Perhaps you could seek out a park like this one in NSW:

    Definitely you can pat kangaroos, some parks let you hold koalas but they are quite fragile and the bones are easily broken so it will only happen at a smallish park where the people numbers are manageable, not in a zoo.

    Sydney Harbour views from the Bridge are awesome, highly recommended. Taronga Park is a great zoo, well worth a visit.

    Maybe you should add seeing a platypus and an echidna to your list – they are unique animals.

    The only time we have been able to pat a dolphin was at Sentosa Island in Singapore if you are going back that way.

    Maybe I can hunt around a bit more for a good wildlife park…

    Enjoy your trip and never let the bastards get you down (i.e keep up the good work).

  9. Many wild possums and wallabies (small kangaroos) seem quite tame, especially in touristy areas. A wallaby came up to us in the parking lot at a National Park and begged to be patted by my niece and nephew (then 6 and 5) and then harassed my SIL into giving it the remains of an apple core. Some twit of a bystander said “Another wild animal destroyed”, clearly blaming her for feeding it (as though it hadn’t been working that parking lot for years.) My brother said “I never agreed with someone so much and despised them so much at the same time before!”

    On another occasion, a ring-tailed possum attempted to eat my breakfast cereal through a plastic bag that I was holding at the time. (We were camping…) I had to shove it away with my foot pretty vigorously to get it to step back. Yelling at it and nudging it didn’t work, and I didn’t have a free hand to do anything else. But I think if someone tried to pet it, it would probably have scratched or bitten them.

    Female Tasmanian Devils turn out to be fairly tranquil, at least the ones in zoos and wild animal parks. The zoo guy picked one up and let all the onlookers (about 10 of us, including a bunch of kids) rub its belly… I was at the end of the line, and after happily getting her belly rubbed by a whole bunch of people, when she got to me, she let out a blood-curdling wail. The zoo guy said that meant she either really, really hated me or she really, really liked me. He couldn’t tell which.

    Anyway, they seem a little less formal/stuck-up about human/animal interactions in Aussie than here in the US, so have fun!

  10. You do not want to touch a Koala. They kinda stink really bad. I know there is a wildlife preserve up in the Brisbane area where you can hold them. In addition to being physically fragile, they are pretty mentally fragile as well and excessive human interaction is damaging. So many places won’t let you touch them at all. But like I said they smell horrible.

    However, I would highly recommend petting some grey kangaroos and wallabies. However, I would not suggest approaching the wild ones they can occasionally be aggressive (like feral dogs and cats). If you are not a vegan/vegetarian I would also say try and find a place that would let you try some kangaroo steak. Yes they are apparently edible and are freaking delicious. Also check out all the other local wild life that’s there since it’s all pretty fascinating.

    If you like to see some pictures of the neat things in zoos I have some posted on my flickr stream from my own trip to Brisbane

  11. OK, first I just have to say it’s Waitomo caves that have the glow worms, not Wiamo. Whatever that is. You don’t want to sound all American touristy and have people spit in your paua fritters.

    Secondly, I will most likely be there at the dinner in Auckland. I’m sure it will be extremely exciting for you to meet me.

    Thirdly, when you’re in Auckland, wander down to the Waterfront where there’s heaps of day cruises and tours to our totally awesome islands. You’ll probably see whales and dolphins. There’s also this bar down there that’s at Minus 5 degrees C, called Minus 5, which looks pretty cool (heh). If I had friends I would totally go there with them.

    We have a zoo, which is probably worth going to because you won’t see things like the tuatara or kiwi anywhere else in the world. And Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World, for the Antartic Encounter.

    The Classic Comedy and Bar for a slice of kiwi humour. The War Memorial Museum (lots of NZ stuff there, not just War stuff). Botanical Gardens. You should check out Rationalist House on Symonds Street (right near Auckland Uni).

    OK, I think I’ll stop there. I could go on all day.

  12. So much to do and only a few days to do it.

    I’ll don’t know how you are travelling, but Kaikoura is on the way from chch to Wellington (with a 3 hour boat ride inbetween). So you can if time allows see a whale / swim with dolphins ( it is expendy but a god trip, There are alway swims with dolphins nearer christchurch at Akaroa.

    Waitomo is a long way from Auckland and Wellington and again depends on travel methods if you can make it. Black water rafting is great fun, as is the grotto tour, but there are glow worms in the gardens in wellington

    There are a few kiwi houses around in the North Island ( and one at Mt Bruce.

    so much stuff so little time.

  13. Hey, if you want possoms in Melbourne, you can go to the Carlton Gardens (where the Melbourne Museum is) after dark, with chunks of apple’s the possoms will come out of the trees to have noms from your hands. Just make sure it’s apple though, not bread.

    This looks like a ghost tour, but you know, I don’t think you’ll see any though… But you will will a prime contestent for Richmonds “from Goth to Boss”

    Apprently the Queen Victoria Market is haunted (built over an old grave yard I hear “Melbourne – Victoria Market – Victoria Market was Melbourne’s first general cemetery and still contain over 50 000 bodies buried there including Melbourne’s founder john batman who is buried under a statue of him in the car park and there is two bush rangers ghosts that walk around the stalls in the fruit section.” from italics mine) and worth a visit anyway. For some reason having knocks-offs sold over their dead bodies doesn’t seem to be aggrevating the early Melbourne citizens other than sauntering around the produce section, although them’s bush ranger’s ghosts, from robbing people in life to oggling oranges in death. It’s as cohesive as their grammer!

    SO looking forward to hearing you speak at Bridie O’Reilly’s! I’ve been SUCH a fan since I started reading skepchick at age 14! Hope you enjoy Australia, and don’t mention possoms in NZ, they haven’t forgiven Australia for introducing them there.

  14. No, Taronga Zoo won’t let you hug a koala.

    However Koala Park at West Pennant Hills will allow you to cuddle and pat koalas. It’s well worth it. About 40 minutes from Sydney CBD.


    I missed out on a TAMOz ticket, but I’m looking forward to meeting you in the Skeptics in the Pub Meet and Greet on 25th November, if you’re not all jet-lagged that is …

  15. Also when you’re in Melbourne visit the Phillip Island Penguin Parade

    You get to watch the penguins coming up the beach from the ocean after a hard day’s fishing and waddling to their burrows for a hard night’s screwing.

    Get the “ultimate tour” for the closest look at the penguins (limited to 10 people per night so book immediately if interested). We went there a few months ago and got the “Penguins Plus” tickets which was quite alright, particularly as we sat in front so the penguins were almost within arm’s reach. The difference between general admission and Penguins Plus is that general admission is a much larger seating area and so statistically you’ll be behind more people, also much further away from the penguins.

    Also, get there early. Phillip Island is a long, long way from Melbourne and we made the mistake of leaving late and got there 45 minutes after the advised entrance time. We saw the penguins alright and even got good seats, but that was probably more luck than anything else. Bring your own hot drink. Your ticket price includes a hot or cold drink but there was a huge queue for a single person doling out drinks, so we ignored it and went straight down to the beach to wait for the penguins.

  16. Finally I didn’t know “saw” had some special biblical meaning. So when “Jesus saw his disciples”, that was some kind of pervy thing?

    It brings a whole new meaning to Matthew 8:14.

  17. Hey Melbournians, nice suggestions! Healsville sanctuary is also great for kangaroos, wallabies, etc… and you get to pet and feed them too:

    In my view, though, the best things about Melbourne are more of a culinary and alcoholic nature. Grab some lunch here one day (it’s a cool alleyway with lots of little cafes, restaurants and bars):

    Hopefully you’ll get a few nice warm days while you’re in Melbourne and, if you do, kick back for a few beers in St Kilda (a suburb about 5 km south of the city centre). The Vineyard (71A Acland St) is a good place to start.

    Bars in Melbourne generally don’t have cover charges so bar hopping is easy. Some can be pretty hard to find though (often hidden down alleys or in basements). Here are a few that I like:

    And there are lots of great restaurants too. I’m happy to suggest some, but I should probably save that for another comment.

    Oh, and as @Hask said, looking forward to hearing you speak at Bridie O’Reilly’s.

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