I never imagined I would visit a cemetery to watch kangaroos grazing … but since discovering it I’ve taken every foreign visitor of mine there to witness this amazing sight for free.
Before you think I am a touch weird, bear with me. Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park is not a morbid or creepy place at all – in fact, it is a collection of peaceful gardens with rolling lawns and water features, interspersed with natural bushland that has been tastefully landscaped to create an overall beautiful and dignified place to honour the departed.
The main entrance to the park is on Whitfords Avenue, with another exit/entrance on Gibson Avenue. The winding roads within the park meander past the various ‘courtyards’ where you can see scatterings of floral tributes and memorial plaques discreetly placed in the grass. No headstones or monuments are permitted – only flat memorial plaques. This policy ensures that the natural bushland environment is retained.
The courtyards are named after Australian fauna, e.g. Zamia Court, Acacia Court and Cassia Court. If you drive slowly through the park you will eventually come full circle back to where you started, but there are clear signs along the way too to guide you. There are parking spots along the way, or you can simply do a slow drive through the park with your windows wound down to see the kangaroos. The speed limit is 20 at all times.
At most times of the day you can spot whole herds of kangaroos grazing on the lawns and amongst the native trees and plants. The best times are before or after the real heat of the day. They move around so you aren’t guaranteed to see them in the same spot twice, but I have never been disappointed.
The place is so beautiful that you are naturally inclined to respect the peace, but it’s obvious that allowing kids to run wild and be too loud on the lawns would be inappropriate. As for the kangaroos – you also need to respect their space, for your safety as well as not wanting to scare them. And do not try to feed them or touch them. But with caution you are able to come as close as 5–10m and observe them munching grass or nursing their babies. At certain times of the year I have seen baby Joeys with their heads sticking out of pouches. Every now and then a kangaroo will bounce off across the grass. As someone still fairly new to Aussie animals, it’s a wonderful experience to observe them so closely!
There are a few shelters in the park with toilet facilities and also benches to rest on. Near the main entrance, there is a Chapel and Crematorium that have daily services and ceremonies, and nearby is a small café called Pinnaroo Café.
I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this café, which looks out over a rolling lawn where kangaroos often graze. It mainly serves people who are attending services at the park, but it is also open to the public. Again, kids running wild would be disrespectful, but the café has a fantastic kids corner to keep them entertained. It is enclosed for small children, and is bursting with a variety of toys and also has colouring-in pencils and paper for older kids.
There are several large tables inside with some rustic ones on the patio that have shade umbrellas. Inside there are also a few comfortable armchairs and sofas.
The café serves good coffees as well as other beverages and has a wide range of yummy cakes, biscuits and sweet offerings. There are also some ready-made savoury choices on display such as sandwiches and wraps, and a few specials which change daily, e.g. soup and bread. There is no formal menu as such, nor is there a kids’ menu – it’s a simple café but I loved the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
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