I'm a Freelance Writer - MPG Communications and Author - Maria P Frino (pen name).
Published March 7th 2018
Unique Aussie wildlife experiences abound. Book now.
Feed a kangaroo, see a koala up close, gawk at an emu, gape at a wild croc, walk with a wallaby and cackle with a kookaburra. You can do this and more at these wildlife sanctuaries. Enjoy a family holiday at one of these parks north or south of Sydney, maybe a weekend away, or even a day trip when you visit one closer to home. Here is a list of popular sanctuaries with hands-on Australian wildlife experiences.
Darling Harbour is a hub of activity for locals, families and tourists. This is where Wildlife Sydney Zoo is located and being part of a group of attractions, you really must check their website here for the deals they offer all year round.
Have an Australian animal adventure right on Sydney's famous harbour. Some of the highlights of this compact zoo are -
Daily feedings and talks about the various animals and their behaviour. Behind the Scenes Tours, where you will learn all about what zookeepers do. Koala Breakfast Experience - if you book this you will see koalas when they are most active. Koala and Python Encounters - get up close to the animals and their keepers.
This zoo is great to visit if you have limited time, impressing overseas guests who are only here for a short holiday, or you want to do more than one activity whilst visiting. You can start planning your trip to Wildlife Sydney Zoohere.
This is a very family-friendly park with animals roaming freely as you walk around. It is situated at Doonside, which is near Blacktown in Sydney's west. Featherdale Wildlife Park has won awards for being the most 'up close and personal' type of outdoor wildlife park.
It is worth noting many Australian animals sleep or rest during the heat of our summers, so if you are travelling with young children, plan to arrive early to see the wildlife at their most active. There is more information about animal habits, how to get to there and ticket pricing on the Featherdale Wildlife Park website here.
Highlights of experiences at this outdoor zoo are -
Personal Dingo Encounters at 9.30am and 3.30pm. 9.30am encounters are on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Personal Owl Encounter at 10.45am.
Breakfast with a Koala starts at 8.15am daily.
Various animal feeding times - Hand feed Kangaroos, Wallabies and Pademelons all day but other animals such as pelicans, echidna, crocodiles and more have set times. For more information on feeding times click here.
Featherdale Experiences incur extra charges after admission fee, however, a portion of these funds go towards Featherdale's Koala Plantation Fund.
This park, which is about an hours drive north of Sydney, is actually not just for reptile enthusiasts, there are plenty of other animals to see and learn about. An outdoor and interactive park, this park is family-friendly and is wheelchair accessible (some challenging areas).
Highlights of experiences at this educational zoo are -
Big Kids 2 Keepers is a hands-on experience for budding zoologists, for 13 to 18 year olds.
Little Kids 2 Keeper is for younger aspiring zoologists, 7 to 12 year olds.
VIP Behind the Scenes - this is where you can experience a funnel-web milking and see over 150 species of snakes, some very deadly ones too.
Super Seniors - why should kids have all the fun? This experience runs Monday to Friday.
This wildlife sanctuary has had a Venom-Milking Program for 50 years and the program saves over 300 lives each year. Through this program, they provide a variety of venoms for all snake and funnel-web anti-venom requirements in Australia.
Australian Reptile Park is accessible by car, train or coach. Click here for further information on the best way for you to organise your visit.
At Symbio, they take their role in wildlife conservation very seriously. From humble beginnings as a reserve for native and farm animals, Symbio is now a sanctuary for many endangered species of wildlife who call this scenic 16 acres home.
To plan your visit and check out animal showtimes and talks, click here. Symbio is situated in the suburb of Helensburgh, which is a northern suburb of Wollongong. From Sydney, allow approx 90 minutes drive and there is plenty of free parking available.
Nestled in the Illawarra escarpment, near other landmarks such as the Seacliff Bridge, Bald Hill and the Royal National Park, Symbio now boasts a host of Aussie wildlife, as well as exotic animals. These include Sumatran tigers, cheetahs, ring-tailed lemurs, red pandas, meerkats, small monkeys and more.
Highlights of this conservation-minded natural zoo are -
School Holiday Fun - become a junior keeper for the day.
Happy Snap Photos with reptiles and koalas from 12.15pm weekdays.
Big Cat Presentation with tigers or cheetahs at 12.30pm weekdays.
Koala Presentation at 3.30pm weekdays.
There are many more interactive events at Symbio Wildlife Park, check here for school holiday times.
The landscaped nature of Mogo Zoo makes it easy to navigate and many parts are wheelchair accessible.
Highlights of this hands-on experiences zoo -
New Orangutan and Gorilla exhibit to feature orangutans from Taronga Zoo in an inter-zoo exchange.
Primate Zoo Experiences - feed tamarins, lemurs and gibbons.
Feed a lion or a tiger.
Play with meerkats.
Pat a red panda.
There are many more animals living in this zoo and you can click here to find the ones you want to learn more about. Mogo Zoo is enthusiastic about visitors being able to get up close and personal with their amazing array of animals, but to make sure you do not miss an experience, book before arriving.
For more information about the experiences available for purchase, click here.
Situated in natural bushland near Merimbula, on the NSW south coast, Potoroo Palace has animals such as emus, wild birds and kangaroos cage free and roaming freely, so you can hand feed them.
This sanctuary is "passionate about looking after the Earth" and it shows as the animals are healthy and happy, their keepers are caring and knowledgeable about both the bushland surrounds as well as the animals.
Popular with visitors because of the tranquillity, the rustic bushland feel and the many animals roaming freely. At Potoroo Palace you can buy the food to feed the animals as you learn all about their habits and their habitat. This park is a not-for-profit organisation and is open from 10am - 4pm every day except Christmas Day.
Highlights of this native animal educational and conservationist sanctuary are -
Educational talks at 11am and 2pm.
Close encounters with a Dingo, Koala, Wombat, Swamp Wallaby, Ringtail Possum, Brushtail Possum, Sugar Glider, Emu, Duck, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Potoroo or Bettong, Lizard and even Snakes, Kookaburra and Tawny Frogmouth.
Ticket prices of encounters vary and some conditions do apply. For more information about encounters and tours, click here.
Have you had a wildlife experience? Tell us about it in the comments because the more we discuss wildlife conservation and visit sanctuaries such as the ones mentioned, the better it is for our fragile ecosystems and endangered species.
All photos and videos used in this list are courtesy of the websites of each wildlife park. The parks have been listed in no particular order.