A heartening and unique immersive experience can be found at Melbourne Zoo, in its 32 year old tropical native Butterfly House. Despite the many animal enclosures that the zoo is famous for, this little corner of the zoo, between the tigers and elephants was the star attraction for this small group of wanderers.
It feels like a really "Melbourne" thing to have something strikingly different as a zoo exhibit, more botanical than zoological, 10-11 species of colourful native butterflies from tropical North Queensland and the Northern Territory fly around the stunning greenery everyday, lighting on spectators heads and shoulders, providing a truly immersive experience to get up close and personal to these "flowers of the sky".
As hundreds of butterflies choose territories, mate and lay eggs in the greenhouse, visitors can also enjoy the 28 degree warmth in the tropical oasis, which sits at 60-70% humidity all year round, providing a welcome escape for all on a wet and windy Melbourne day I'm sure.
Staff say the butterflies are more active in the morning and are more likely to light on you if you are wearing bright colours, as they think you are a bright tropical flower.
On a very hot January day we joined a very long line to wait to go inside, we know there must have been something very special behind the glass to have all these visitors waiting. As you walk through the doors you are really taken out of yourself for a moment, a little gasp escapes as you look up at the butterflies, it's one of those experiences of wonderment for both adults and children alike.
There's something very quietening about butterflies, even though packed with visitors the day we attended, hushed whispers travelled around the crowd as they held out their hands in hopes of feeling the butterflies faint weight on their arms.
My fedora attracted many to light on me, perhaps because of the flowery fabric on the brim, a happy fashion accident that I decided to wear it that day! I became a bit of an attraction to a group of foreign tourists when about 20 butterflies landed on me.
The exhibit encourages visitors to identity the butterflies that are flying about and provides information on how to attract more butterflies in your garden at home, heightening awareness of the plight of butterflies and bees, roughly 63 butterflies hatch every day of the year in the sustainably warmed habitat.
As one of those experiences that truly takes your breath away and takes you out of yourself for a moment, it's a memorable experience thats worth more than just one visit.