WWhen it comes to meeting the menagerie of feathered, spiky, slippery and furry friends that call our Gold Coast beach-meets-bush backyard home, head to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for the ultimate feel-good-fun-filled day out.
BUT FIRST – BE AN EARLY BIRD
Wake up with the birds by joining the rainbow lorikeets as they swoop in for a dose of nectar at 8am (and another at 4pm for non-early birds). If you don’t have ornithophobia, let the volunteers fill up your plate, hold it up high, and prepare to become a perch. Arms, shoulders, heads, and hats are all fair game here, but wear the latter if you would prefer not to be christened with a dose of good luck! This daily tradition spans 70 years and while this activity is free, local custom is to leave a gold coin donation to keep the nectar bar well-stocked.
Where: Lorikeet Arena, G16
COFFEE, OR EUCALYPTUS TEA?
Grab a coffee or tea and download your free park map. Once inside the sanctuary, follow your nose towards the uplifting eucalyptus fragrance. The koalas should be wide awake and munching through their daily greens, so use this chance to get up close to our favourite national icon. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the very few places in Queensland where you can also book a koala cuddle for an extra fee, but use the opportunity to learn firsthand about the valuable work the sanctuary does to help give this little Aussie battler a better chance in the wild.
MORE KOALA CAPERS
Blinky Bill’s Backyard is a short stroll away (near Wild Burgers on the western side of the Sanctuary), and with an all-new fun and interactive show, don’t be surprised to find yourself clapping, toe-tapping and singing along as the evergreen crew cast their magic over both the young and young at heart. Introducing his friends to share facts about conservation, Blinky Bill makes an appearance too at designated times to film his widely popular television show. Photos with Blinky Bill can be snapped at the end as well.
NOW, HOP THIS WAY
Main Station is nearby, so jump aboard the miniature train that has been operating since 1964 and hop off at Kangaroo Station. Get your gold coins ready to buy some ‘roo food at the cafe or fill up one of the provided cups at the self serve vending machine. Local tip: get here early as by the afternoon, the kangaroos are usually well fed and can get rather sleepy. They won’t mind posing for an obligatory selfie at any time though, and do smile even when they are asleep!
For a change of pace, join a slithering session to see the Big Fang Theory Show (in the WildSkies arena) to learn all about Australia’s deadliest but also friendliest (yes there are many that are not venomous too) snakes that inhabit our great land. If you are keen on an up-close encounter, you can even get your photo taken with a beautiful diamond python draped delicately around your shoulders.
By this stage, you are probably getting hungry and Wild Burgers is nearby waiting with gourmet hot dogs, burgers and our local favourite, criss cross fries (sooo good). The Wild Things & Candy Store is right next door, but if sugar is not on the menu, there are also healthy options at the Sanctuary Cafe right at the front of the park who serve delicious, fresh food including salads, fruit cups, wraps and ice blocks too.
Take the welcome chance to sit down and look to the skies at WildSkies Free Flight Bird Show. Here you will meet Australia’s largest bird of prey – the Wedge-tailed Eagle and more of her spectacular feathered friends including owls, cockatoos and one very cheeky pelican. Feel the power of wings swooping so low, the hairs will stand up on the back of your neck in awe at their magnificence.
WILDLIFE WITH HEART
Some of the sanctuary’s very best work is done at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and you can add to your ultimate day out by going behind the scenes on a tour. Meet the crew saving lives (and sometimes entire species) on the daily and watch the live operating theatre where critical work is being undertaken. If you are squeamish, this might not be for you, but if you are brave like the wildlife, this is a rare glimpse into lifesaving work at Australia’s busiest wildlife hospital. There are fun kids activities here too, including measuring wingspan and weight against Australia’s most popular animals. Check at the nearby kiosk for times, prices and availability for the hospital activities and tours.
PREHISTORIC PREDATORS AND LOST VALLEYS
From the Wildlife Hospital take another short ride on the train to Kangaroo Station to link with Boss Hog, the resident five-metre saltwater crocodile. Seemingly shy while submerged in his billabong, this apex predator changes gears swiftly when it comes to food. Get up close near the enclosure and see why crocs are considered the world’s fiercest predator.
Right next door, Lost Valley will take you back to ancient Gondwana times when dinosaurs of epic proportions roamed the land. Meet some curious creatures from all over the globe, including rare tree kangaroos and from afar the world’s largest rodent – the Capybara, plus four rambunctious ring-tailed lemurs, one of whom is often referred to as ‘King Julian’!
WET MEETS WILD
A recent addition to the family is The Wild Island Adventure Splash Zone, designed especially for kids up to 12 years old to cool down as it heats up. There are waterfall runs, water jets, and plenty of things to climb up, ride on, slide down and explore. If it is a little too cool to get wet, kids can also expend their energy at Wild Island Play Zone or if they are daring, book them on the TreeTop Challenge. With 80 challenges and a total of 11 ziplines, there will be plenty of thrills, but do allow plenty of time to complete as the whole course takes approximately 3.5 hours.
Make it the extra ultimate day out at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary by taking part in a koala experience, twilight tour (during school holidays), tour the Wildlife Hospital or get your very own koala photo. These experiences come at an extra cost, but are fabulous for a special occasion or unique spoil. Check the website for prices and any age restrictions that may apply.
Kiosks, toilets and multiple train stations are scattered throughout the park, and while there’s no ultimate track to take to see everything in any order, be guided by signed walkways and your map to select the shows and feeding times that suit you the best. Opening hours are 4 days a week – Thursday to Sunday from 9am til 4pm. The Sanctuary is currently closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, however the Lorikeet Feeding (held daily at 8am & 4pm) and cafe at the entrance of the Sanctuary are open every day at 8am.
Located at 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin, parking is available opposite for $10 and all money goes directly back to supporting Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Finally, the Sanctuary is wheelchair-friendly with the main paved pathway accessible to all users. Concessions and discounted rates are available for carers and companions, and information on all accessibility considerations can be found here.
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