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Animals galore! Seven Wildlife Parks to explore

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Whether you’re entertaining international visitors, or simply want to introduce your children to some of the amazing native animals we have in this country, a trip to a local Wildlife Park makes a great day out for the whole family. To help you decide where to go, we’ve compiled a list of the closest Wildlife Parks to the North Shore.

1. Australian Reptile Park

Australian Reptile Park is just a 35-minute drive up the M1, and is an incredible hands-on zoo featuring exciting wildlife shows and lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals. You’ll find free-range kangaroos, koalas, a Tasmanian devil, dingoes, Hugo (a giant 165kg Galapagos tortoise), a huge alligator lagoon and, of course, Elvis, the crankiest and most famous crocodile in Australia!

The park is ‘pram friendly’, too, so it’s easy to push your way along the nature walk to explore all of the animals. For the older kids, there is an impressive adventure playground. There is also lots of open space for picnics, as well as free gas barbecues, so if you’re organised, pack some sausages and fresh bread rolls! Otherwise, there’s an on-site cafe.

  • Where: Pacific Highway, Somersby
  • Entry: $39/adult, $21/child (3-15 years), $105/family (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Open: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)

2. Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park

1 Darkinjung Road, cnr Peats Ridge Road, Calga

Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park is also located up the M1 – about 2 minutes before Australian Reptile Park (see above). Most of the animals at Walkabout Park are free to roam the grounds. It’s set on 80 acres in native Australian bush, so as many of the animals as possible can live in their natural habitat. During your visit, you might see emus, Grey Eastern kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingoes, flying foxes, wombats, Tasmanian devils, Spot Tail quolls (Tiger quolls), cockatoos, kookaburras, pythons, lizards and dragons.

There is a cafe where you can buy pre-made sandwiches, hot pies, and fish and chips. Coffee can be purchased from a coin-operated machine that makes barrister-quality coffee with freshly ground beans and fresh milk. Snacks, cold drinks and ice-creams can be bought at the gift shop. There are lots of picnic tables around the Visitor Centre and along the tracks, plus barbecues (but be sure to book one!)

  • Where: 1 Darkinjung Road, cnr Peats Ridge Road, Calga
  • Entry: $30/adult, $15/child (3-15 years), $72/family (2 adults, 1 child)
  • Open: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)

3. Koala Park Sanctuary

84 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills

Set within 10 acres of natural eucalyptus forest, Koala Park Sanctuary is located in the residential Hills district of Northern Sydney. The Sanctuary supports a large number of koala families who live peacefully among a broad range of other Australian wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, possums, penguins, flying foxes, emus, echidnas, cassowaries, wedge-tailed eagles, cockatoos, and many more friends. The park was established in the 1920s to provide a safe haven for the koala to live and breed.

  • Where: 84 Castle Hill Rd, West Pennant Hills NSW 2125
  • Entry: $28/adult, $15/child (4-14 years), $99/family (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Open: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)

4. Featherdale Wildlife Park

217-229 Kildare Road, Doonside (near Blacktown)

At Featherdale Wildlife Park, you can hand feed a kangaroo, wallaby or emu – or enjoy a face-to-face encounter with one of the friendly koalas – among one of Australia’s largest private collections of Australian native animals and birdlife. At Featherdale, you’ll find a cafe, shady picnic area with barbecues, plus baby changing facilities.

Whether you live in Chatswood, Gordon or Wahroonga, it would take you about 30-40 minutes to drive to Featherdale (depending on the traffic, of course!).

  • Entry: $29/adult, $16/child (3-15 years), $82/family (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Open: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)

5. Symbio Wildlife Park

7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh

If you’re heading south out of Sydney, Symbio is halfway between the city and Wollongong. It’s set on 16 acres of bush parkland and is famous for providing genuine hands-on encounters with the most fascinating creatures from Australia and around the world.

Symbio also provides exclusive behind-the-scenes encounters with some of our magnificent animals – koalas, dingoes, meerkats, red pandas and little monkeys. You’ll also see wombats, kangaroos, emus, dingoes, reptiles, Sumatran tigers, monkeys and lots of farmyard animals, too!

  • Where: 7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Helensburgh NSW 2508
  • Entry: $36/adult, $22/child (3-14 years), $99/family (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Open: 9.30am to 5pm, 7 days a week (closed Christmas Day)

6. Auburn Botanic Gardens

Cnr Chisholm and Chiswick Roads, Auburn

If you want to enjoy a place of natural beauty, but don’t want to spend a small fortune in entry fees, the Auburn Botanic Gardens are well worth a visit. You’ll fine native animals and birds across 9.2 hectares of lush parkland. Parking is free, and there is a picnic area and a number of free BBQs too. It’s about a 40-50 minute drive from most suburbs along the North Shore (check Google maps for the correct distance from your home).

  • Entry: $4/adult, free for children under 16 years. Auburn residents are free
  • Open: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week

7. Central Gardens

Cnr of Cumberland Highway and Merrylands Road, West Merrylands

See some native Australian animals for FREE at Central Gardens, Merrylands. This place of natural beauty offers spectacular water features, two large shaded playground areas, a walking track, picnic settings, electric barbecues, a kiosk, exciting animal enclosures and an aviary. It’s a great outdoor venue for parties and picnics, too.

  • Entry: Free
  • Open: Daylight Savings: M-F 7.30am to 5pm; S-S 8am to 7pm. Winter: M-F 7.30am to 4pm; S-S 9am to 5pm

More animal fun…

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