Travel

From a huge saltwater crocodile to Aboriginal art, Toledo showcases the Land Down Under

Wallabies lounge this summer at the Toledo Zoo. (Susan R. Pollack)

Wallabies lounge this summer at the Toledo Zoo. (Susan R. Pollack)

A close encounter with the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse near Maumee Bay. (Susan R. Pollack)

A close encounter with the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse near Maumee Bay. (Susan R. Pollack)

This is a good week to go Down Under — to Toledo – for two experiences from the Land Down Under:

Wrapping up its last full week at the Toledo Museum of Art, “Crossing Cultures” is a thought-provoking exhibit of contemporary Aboriginal art created in Australia during the last 40 years, most of it since 2000.

Among the 120 featured works are ochre paintings on bark, abstract landscapes and other acrylic paintings on canvas, an array of sculptures, totems and burial poles and visually-powerful photographs. They’re all part of the Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art from the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

A few miles away, at the Toledo Zoo, families can commune with more than 50 species of Australian animals, including a 17-foot-long saltwater crocodile, at “Wild Walkabout:  Wonders from Down Under.” The animals will be in residence at the zoo through Sept. 2.

Another highlight, in addition to the 50-year-old, 1,500-pound croc, Baru, is a walk-through exhibit featuring 10 wallabies that were reared in, of all places, Indiana, according to an exhibit attendant. You’ll also find wild dingos, kookaburras, tall aggressive birds called cassowaries and snakes, including a venomous taipan and a death adder.

You can see both the “Crossing Cultures” art exhibit and a sampler of Australian animals in one location from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at the Australian-focused Family Fun Day on the grounds of the museum’s eye-catching Glass Pavilion.

Hands-on art activities, storytelling and a family time tour also will be featured at the free event. (But it would be a shame to miss an outing at the Toledo Zoo, which is family-friendly and easily doable in a half-day. You can also see a pair of polar bear cubs, courtesy of their fertile mama bear, Crystal).

Big doings also are planned this weekend at nearby Maumee Bay State Park, where the 10th anniversary Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival takes center stage Friday and Saturday.

Works from the "Crossing Cultures" exhibit of Aboriginal art at the Toledo Museum of Art. (Susan R. Pollack)

Works from the “Crossing Cultures” exhibit of Aboriginal art at the Toledo Museum of Art. (Susan R. Pollack)

Highlights include boat rides in and around the lighthouse,  the Toledo Symphony Concert Band at 7 p.m. Saturday, a magician, steel drums, nautical arts and crafts, sand castle-building and a lighthouse photo contest.

Don’t miss the original 1904 Toledo Lighthouse Fresnel Lens (3.5 order) in the lobby of the state park lodge. And, if you can’t hitch a boat ride out to see the lighthouse up close — it’s on a crib five miles out from the park marina — you can see it from a viewer at the marina for 50 cents. For boat reservations, $40, call (734) 434-0344.

Entry is free to all Ohio state parks, along with the festival and parking, though a donation to help restore the lighthouse is requested. Find more information at www.toledolighthousefestival.org.

The Toledo Museum of Art is at 2445 Monroe Street at Scottwood Avenue, just west of the Downtown business district and one block off I-75. Check www.toledomuseum.org or call (800) 644-6862. Admission is free, on-site parking is $5.

The Toledo Zoo, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (5 p.m. on weekends), is on US 25 (the Anthony Wayne Trail), four miles south of downtown. Check www.toledozoo.org or call (419) 385-4040 for admission details.

A wallaby communes with a visiting rabbit at the Toledo Zoo (Susan R. Pollack)

A wallaby communes with a visiting rabbit at the Toledo Zoo (Susan R. Pollack)

 

Susan R. Pollack
Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 48 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including "Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide," and is the copy editor for secondchancetravels.com. She also has written for websites including gardendestinations.com and travelingmom.com.