Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ballarat Wildlife Park

Ballarat Wildlife Park is a small family run wildlife centre, opened in 1987 by Greg Parker. The park covers 37 acres and has about 400 animals on display, including free roaming kangaroos.

During my time researching Ballarat and all it has to offer I came across the wildlife park. Now, we've been to a few zoos in our time and so in all honesty I was considering simply skipping this one.

However, as I always do of late when researching places to visit and various travel options I jump on Trip Advisor, there I found several comments about the wildlife park, pretty much all of them recommending a visit there, for one reason or another.

So of course a visit to the park was added to our list of plans. In fact it was the first place in Ballarat we called on, after dropping our luggage off at the cabin in which we were staying.

As with everything in Ballarat it was a short, simple drive over to the wildlife park, we visited on a Saturday afternoon just after Christmas, so I'm guessing it would've been one of their busiest times. The park was open enough for the large groups of people to spread out, the only time we were really aware of people were at the animal presentations, where things did become a little crowded.

We love these majestic creatures.

We entered with perfect timing, the Koala presentation was about to begin and who can resist seeing and touching these guys up close.

This Burmese Python was simply stunning. On our second walk through the reptile house we found it with its mouth agape, it was ginormous.

The reptile house sits right alongside the Koala presentation area so we naturally made our way over there. In fact we visited the reptile house more than once. We loved that it housed creatures that none of us have seen up close before.

The exhibits were varied with a large number of reptiles on display many of them we had never seen in such close proximity before

Our 6 year old and this snake spent several minutes poking tongues at each other.

Each of the kids experienced their own personal encounter with at least one of the animals. I'm always in two minds about zoos and wildlife parks but the one positive is the way that animal encounters such as these leave an indelible mark on you.

This guy followed and seemed to play with our 10 year old as she moved her hands across the glass front enclosure.

There were only a handful of people there, yet another great encounter.

I think we had come back around for a third look inside the reptile house when we realised that the keeper had the enclosure open and was feeding these little gators.

It was quite a warm afternoon and we definitely felt the heat.

The park itself meanders down the side of a hill, with well laid paths, signage and fenced areas making it easy to wander around.

Time to introduce you to CRUNCH!

Crunch didn't move once whilst we were visiting. He simply sat and glared at all the passersby.

At 5metres long and 500kg this guy is one huge crocodile. It was difficult to get photo's of him as understandably he was tucked away behind his glass enclosure. Poor old Crunch was a bit of nuisance croc in far north Queensland and after a series of adventures he ended up here in his new home in late 2013.

The enclosure for these guys is huge.

The tank has a large low viewing area which would be an amazing spot to truly take in Crunch's size, here we got a good glimpse of his much smaller female counterpart.

There were several ducks and birds taking shelter under the shady trees.

As you meander down the concrete walkways, heading to the bottom of the hill you are greeted with a large lake area.

This little kookaburra was so used to people the kids could just about touch him.

The kids were quick to spot this guy, quite obviously not a park resident but my guess is he spends most of his time here, he was clearly at home and comfortable in this space and very used to strangers coming up quite close.

We enjoyed a cool ice block in the shade, whilst our Emu friends looked on.

Emus roam freely about the grounds.

Our 13 year old and this parrot were captivated by each other. The parrot flew to him no matter what end of the enclosure he stood at. Our guess is, he loved the red t-shirt.

The large bird enclosure housed a pair of stunning black cockatoo's but it was this little guy that stole our hearts.

A large gully flows straight through the centre of the park, it was quite dry there during our visit.

Our 10 year old could've spent hours here and probably would've liked to take a few of these guys home. She has mentioned a few times about becoming zoo keeper at some point and after leaving she was quite clear that she would like to work with the roo's.

By far the favourite stop was with the free roaming kangaroos. They spent most of their time lazing around in the shade of a tree as it was quite a warm afternoon. That was of course until someone came along with food.

Aww mum, he's so cute when he holds my hand.

It took our 6 year old a little while to warm up and have a go at feeding, he was somewhat concerned about being bitten and scratched. We eventually were able to persuade him that it was a relatively safe activity if he remembered that they were still wild animals and he needed to act appropriately. He instantly fell in love also, when this little guy held his hands each time he took food from him.

The park was well laid out and very easy to get around. There is a small cafe and gift shop at the entrance/exit of the park. We were actually surprised at the large number of international tourists here but later realised when we visited Sovereign Hill as to why. We were able to obtain a family pass to enter the park for $78.50. We had pretty much walked the entire park in just under 3 hours, but you could just as easily spend 4 or 5 hours here if you wanted to take in a number of keeper presentations. Visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park website to plan your trip. We were very glad to have included this in our stay at Ballarat.

In simple pleasures you will find life treasures,
Kylie xx

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