It's a little known but intensely interesting fact that, when they weren't otherwise occupied marauding, pillaging, sailing, or rum-drinking, pirates of the 16th and17th Centuries used to travel from all over the seven seas to a small outpost on the Bass Highway to play their way through the 18 holes of Pirate Pete's Mini-Golf. True fact. Well, sort of. Ok, not entirely, but what is true about the history of this golf course is that it has been entertaining modern day pirates, young and old, since 2001 when it was added to Maru Koala and Animal Park, and especially so since its 2008 major revamp into its current pirate-themed spectacularity.
Situated just outside of Grantville, one and a half hours from Melbourne and 15 minutes from Phillip Island, the Maru Koala and Animal Park and Pirate Pete's Mini-Golf makes a wonderful day trip from the city, or a nice holiday activity if you are already out that area, which parents and children to enjoy together.
Featuring a climbable 30m long pirate ship as its centre piece, life-sized pirate figures, some of which at times seem to be really made of more than just wax, alongside scary, low-lit, bat-filled caves for you to putt your way through, a giant great white shark that some lucky pirate has caught and strung up to be marvelled at, and a rousing soundtrack of pirate music to get you in the skullduggery mood, the course is kitsch, loud and exciting enough to entertain any child for the period of the 18 holes. This is especially so when you throw in the twist halfway through the course, when walking through a concealed doorway under a goldmine transports you to a completely different era of time and place for your exploratory pleasures… giving buccaneering a uniquely Australian twist.
If you can wait till mid-year to strap on your eye patch and get a-puttin', the experience becomes even more enriching as Pirate Pete's Mini-Golf teams up with the annual Grantville Pirate Festival on the Sunday of the Queen's Birthday Weekend in June. From 10am-3pm you can join in the festivities by dressing up in your seafaring best to win some pretty shiny loot, or join the crew as they go fishin' for gold, bobbin' for squid, climbin' the mast or throwin' their wooden legs around before hopping their way to join in with the tug o'war. In addition, there are such attractions to be had on the day such as watching a professional pirate sword fight, meeting some real life pirates who'll be passing through the event in between their busy marauding schedule, jumping on sea worthy jumping castles and collecting show bags full to the brim with pirate swag. Included in the price of entry to the festival is an all-day pass for the mini-golf course and the animal park, so when you are done with the festivities you can get to know the local wildlife.
Like the mini-golf, the animal park is open all year round. Home to an assortment of cuddly critters, from the large kangaroos, emus and donkeys, through to the medium sized sheep, wallabies, wombats dingos and Tasmanian devils, all the way down to the very small stick insects on display in the koala enclosure, so make sure to check it out when you're done with the pirating. On offer at the animal park is more than just your usual zoo-type deal. You can join in the zoo-keeping project and become a zoo keeper for a day, hand feed the animals, or have a "close encounter" with a possum, koala, wombat or dingo, where you will be personally introduced to the animal of your choice and taught about its habits and habitat. There's also the opportunity to buy a professional photo taken of you and your animal, or to take your own photos.
Whether you venture down for the festival, for the golf, for the animals, or for all three, you are bound to have more fun than a drunken pirate in a hold full of loot. For more information make sure you check out the park's webpage which can be found here. Happy maraudin' and puttin'!