Do you enjoy going on a tour, so that your can hear all the behind-the-scenes stories about the place that you're visiting? Here in Canberra we have tours of our museums and galleries, however we also have tours to learn more about the animals in the region as well. If you would love to meet a cheetah, feed a giraffe, get close to a koala or spot a platypus in the wild, see below for some of the fun tours to do for families this weekend or school holidays.
Don't forget your camera!
Look at the animals - while they're looking at you!
The National Zoo and Aquarium is the top pick if you want to join a tour and get up close to a wide range of international and Australian animals. The options include the popular Family Tour, a 2-hour Zooventure Tour to meet animals behind the scenes and an all-day Walk on the Wildside Tour with a full-day of interaction. If you have a particular animal that you love more than any of the others, they also have Close Encounters with a Cheetah, a Cheetah cub, Giraffe, Tiger, White Lion, Sun Bear, Tree Kangaroo, Meerkat, Red Panda, Rhino and two Barking Owls. Alternatively, you can just walk around and view the animals in their enclosures - which are natural, large and with plenty of areas to view what they are doing. See here for details and here for a full article on the Highlights of the National Zoo and Aquarium.
Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary is a protected wildlife sanctuary that is located on the border of Forde and Bonner, 25 minutes north of the city. The sanctuary was formed in 2009 when a 11 kilometre electric fence was erected around 485 hectares of the reserve, to create a flora and fauna sanctuary within. All the introduced predators were removed and Eastern Bettongs, Bush-Stone Curlews and Eastern Quolls were introduced. If you would like to see these cute nocturnal animals in the wild, and other native animals that make the sanctuary their home, then join one of their Twilight Tours which are held twice a week. During the school holidays, they often have family tours for the littlies, so all ages can walk at night and feel the excitement of spotting animals by torchlight. See here for details.
See nocturnal animals in the wild at Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary. Image: Mulligans Flat Facebook
Jerrabomberra Wetlands is located in Fyshwick, less than 10 minutes from the city centre. It is a surprising place to find the wetlands, due to its close proximity to the industrial centre of Canberra. When you drive down Dairy Farmers Road to get to it however, you soon enter into scrubland and see cyclists and walkers utilising the wetland area, as a thoroughfare around Lake Burley Griffin. If you wish to look around on your own there are short walks to take, with Kelly's Loop the most popular with discrete bird hides to sit in to watch the wetland birds in the main waterhole. The rangers at Jerrabomberra Wetlands have events throughout the year and school holidays, with birdwatching tours and family activities to learn about the insects and wildlife that live there. See here for details.
Learn about wetland birds, insects and animals at Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Image: Jerrabomberra Wetlands Facebook
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is located 45 minutes from Canberra's city centre. This popular nature reserve has short walks, long hikes, indigenous sites, BBQs and a playground area for families. There is an entry fee per car to get into the reserve and then you have all day to explore and spot animals in the wild. Without even going on a tour, you can view kangaroos hopping around, the occasional emu, platypus on The Sanctuary walk and koalas on the Koala Path. If you are looking for a family-friendly ranger tour, ensure you check out the Explore Program and learn more about the native animals that make Tidbinbilla their home. During the school holidays, they also offer extra tours and activities, for kids to learn about animals, camping and indigenous practices. See here for details.
For kids who love animals, these venues offer unique animal experiences which will have them talking about what they saw for days. Even for adults, you never get sick of admiring and learning about animals, particularly our own Australian icons that live in the wild around the city. Even when all they do is sleep, they are still particularly cute...
Spotted! Look for koalas in the wild, on the Koalas in the Canopy Tour (as part of the Explore Program at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve)