It's referred to as the best kept secret on the Gold Coast, but people need to know about it, so I would use hidden gem instead - because it absolutely is just that. I used to work in West Burleigh and drove past the entrance to David Fleay Wildlife Park
so many times - for some odd reason I thought it was just a bird sanctuary. You can see birds, but it is so much more than that.
It is in fact a gorgeous wildlife park that is home to many native animals and plants, it is located in a really beautiful setting and was a lovely day out. Set in Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Park, it really feels like you are walking through completely natural surroundings - which you are apart from the constructed Boardwalk. The boardwalk is enclosed so it was safe for my 17 month year old to toddler about, without fear of her falling.
But there is a real sense of getting back to nature, it is quiet and peaceful and the best part is it is located right in the middle of the Gold Coast - just minutes from the beach - so you don't have to travel too far. You will see and enjoy birds, including eagles, brolgas, jabiru, owls and cassowary, as well as crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas, tree kangaroos, snakes, lizards, gliders - even butterflies! Plus they are the only park on the Gold Coast where you can see a platypus! And we did.
The Australian animals are housed in housed in natural habitat-inspired enclosures, so you view them from a short distance on the boardwalk. I really liked this - as I find at other wildlife places on the Coast where you get to feed and be close to some of the animals - a little intrusive for the animals. I would rather watch them in a more natural environment and here the animals have peace and space and are cared for greatly.
At only $20.10 per adult, $9.25 for kids and a family pass is $51.30 for 2 adults and 2 kids - it's possibly the cheapest of its kind on the Gold Coast. To make your cash last longer, you could get a yearly pass for around double the single entrance fee - after visiting I wish we had done that, at I would happily go back a few times in a year. I don't think there was one animal that we didn't see, so it's certainly worth it.
We saw some amazing animals - ones that I hadn't seen before at other parks such as dingos and tree kangaroos. Plus they have lots of boards and signage around the park where you can learn about each animal, the importance of conservation and the ground-breaking research work that they do.
My favourite animals were the cute bilby and the platypus, plus I loved seeing the huge 4 metre crocodile - however the size and intensity of him made me a little uneasy, like travelling back to the dinosaur era.
They have number of talks and shows throughout the day - we went to the crocodile talk which was very interesting, especially hearing about his work with Steve Irwin. You can see a list of talks and times here.
They have a cafe which serves everything from drinks, snacks, sandwiches and hot food. Expect nuggets, hamburgers, sausage rolls and chips - it's not gourmet but it is fine for a quick rest and snack before you head back out into the park. The lady who served us was also manning the front desk and cooking, so she had her hands full, but that didn't take the smile away.
If you leave by the back exit, just after the Crocodile section, then you have a stunning walk back to the car park, around 650 metres through hinterland, lakes and bushland. Perfect for the bushwalking beginner.
It is located on Kabool Road off West Burleigh Road, it is open from 9am to 5pm daily. We went on a Saturday around midday - it was very quiet and didn't feel like a Gold Coast park at all. Highly recommended for lovers of animals, nature, walking and getting some peace and tranquility.