I'm a qualified UK lawyer, who emigrated to Australia in May 2012. I have three small children and we've been getting to know Brisbane and making it our home.
Published August 8th 2013
Our little boy turned 3 and, although not strictly speaking a toddler anymore, we also have a newborn baby, so we were looking for somewhere family friendly to spend a special day out.
We went to Australia Zoo for his 2nd birthday and, although fabulous, we couldn't imagine doing that again at the moment with a newborn in tow, too.
We love Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary but being membership card holders, we have unlimited access for the year and so tend to nip there for a couple of hours to feed the kangaroos when we have some spare time on a weekend.
To explain, our little man is wildlife mad. He loves animals and is fascinated by them. Completely fearless of approaching and feeding the animals as permitted to do so.
I saw a Scoopon for Alma Park Zoo and, as we hadn't been, we thought why not try it?
It's a quick easy drive there and as you enter the gates, you immediately feel as though you are much further than a 45 minute drive from the city.
The car parks are central to the zoo itself and so there isn't a long walk to get to where you need to be, ideal with little people. At the entrance you are handed a site map and a list of the times of the presentations and photo opportunities. These are easy to follow and don't require extensive map reading experience like some can. At the entrance you can buy bags of food appropriate for feeding a number of the animals, including the kangaroos, deer and farm animals. There is a list of the animals you can feed on the bag of food.
We headed straight to the presentation park for the reptile talk followed by the koala talk. These were short, informative and easy to follow with an opportunity to ask questions and touch the animals at the end. You could also get your photo taken with the snake, crocodile or koala.
We then selected a quiet picnic spot to have lunch. There are a few dotted around the park, mostly shaded and with BBQ facilities and bins.
After a leisurely lunch we headed to the far end of the park (it is an intimate park and can be easily done, even taking your time, within a few hours). Here we fed the deer, kangaroos and farm animals. A particularly hungry sheep snatched the whole bag of food from our little boy's hand and proceeded to scoff the whole lot much to his delight. We also enjoyed seeing the camels and the different types of small monkeys, which were especially cute.
It was then a short stroll to the main part of the zoo with lots of stunning peacocks roaming freely around the grounds. Here we saw the reptiles, kolas, kangaroos, dingos, wombat and sun bear. Not the extraordinary wild animals you'd find at bigger zoos, but all the animals look incredibly healthy and well looked after.
Each enclosure has a concise information board with bullet point facts, which I liked as it could be easily explained to our little boy. There was quite a bit of construction work going on, which appeared to be the building of new enclosures and looked exciting.
There is a cafe and shop, both quite simple and not hugely commercial. I liked the fact that you weren't forced to exit via the shop to encourage spending in the shop. The staff in the cafe/shop were very friendly and helpful as were all of the staff we encountered.
A clear route around the park might make it easier to navigate, nothing too prescriptive so as to lose the relaxed feel of the place, but so that you can ensure that you haven't missed anything. Perhaps numbered enclosures. There were also a couple of empty enclosures. The cassowary (a personal favourite of mine being a secret twitcher), for example, was no longer there, but there were still signs to direct you to the enclosure. Some of the paths were also a bit bumpy for a pushchair but added to the charm equally.
There are some VIP experiences where you can get up close and personal with the Red Pandas, Marmoset or Ring-Tail Lemur for an additional fee. The experience includes interaction with and feeding the animal and a photo with them. To do this you must be 8 years and older.
All in all, a lovely, relaxing day out for all the family and particularly good for younger children due to the intimate size of the zoo and proximity to the animals.