Last weekend Hubby was away so we organised to meet up with our friends for extra company. Our combined families and dynamics make us a bit of a motley crew but it’s always fun. Getting together means we need to find an attraction that will cover the different ages – 2-20 years, stages and of course it needs to be accessible. It’s a tall order but Featherdale Wildlife Park fitted the bill.
We had a fantastic day and at no stage did I hear anyone mutter those dreaded words, “I’m bored!” In fact, unbeknown to me, we were on safari. Miss 2, Master 5 and Miss 7 all came equipped with binoculars and enthusiasm. Sarah, our guide, handed each of the kids a passport to stamp as they made their way around the park. The ‘little ones’ were eager to find their first stamp station leaving BJ and AJ thoroughly amused at their gusto.
First stop was the koala enclosure. Featherdale has the largest captive koala colony in NSW. We were keen to meet Archer, a 2 year old Koala, who was hand raised by Sarah. Archer is a superstar who has his own Facebook page with more followers than us. We were clearly in the presence of greatness but to his credit he was friendly and hadn’t let fame go to his furry head.
I explained to Sarah at this point that BJ has a problem with furry animals but we are continuing to work through this by giving BJ regular exposure to animals. I wasn’t sure how close to Archer he would want to be and for how long. Well, Sarah seemed to have BJ under her spell and he took time to look at Archer, had a tentative pat and was interested to see the reaction of the other kids. It was remarkable the difference Sarah’s attitude and being one of the kids made for him. There may be hope.
The koala walk-through allows Featherdale visitors the opportunity to see many of the park’s resident koalas in an environment similar to their natural habitat. The new walk-through koala experience is wheelchair accessible (enter via the exit gate) with a pathway surrounding the eucalypts where the koalas perch.
In this new koala sanctuary, the animals are able to use their natural skills to scale the trees and rest high in the tree tops. There’s still plenty of opportunities to get up close to those on the lower branches and if you’d like an even closer encounter, you can pat a koala and have a photo taken by staff (cost $20) in another area.
I will say, most people visit Featherdale to see the animals but BJ believes the keepers deserve all the attention and was thrilled to see his old mates Sarah and Jocelyn.
While I was busy gazing at the koalas, he was busy gazing at his mates! Shameless.
FEEDING THE ANIMALS
Feeding the wallabies was definitely a favourite activity. Fridges around the park contain ice cream cones filled with animal feed which visitors can buy for $1. There may or may not have been some nibbling on the cones by the little ones in our group, despite the animal feed in the cones. What happens at Featherdale, stays at Featherdale so I can’t divulge the name of the guilty parties.
Sarah found Violet; a wallaby she hand raised, and brought her over to BJ. He had a snuggle with Violet while the kids fed the other wallabies. The wallabies seemed as enthusiastic as the kids about having a nibble on the ice cream cones.
Sue, our family friend with us for the day, commented that the thing she likes about Featherdale is that the animals are up close and she finds this particularly good for the age of her children. We also appreciate this because although BJ has good vision he has poor visual attention making it hard for him to find an animal if it is too far away. At Featherdale we had lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals. AJ met a Tawny Frogmouth, BJ had a close encounter with a cheeky Blue Tongue and a python.
Since my last visit to Featherdale the paths have all been sealed so it is easy to get around. The park is virtually level so there are no hills to push up making it a dream with wheelchairs and prams. We also appreciate the easy viewing with low fences and glass panels which are great for toddlers and wheelchair users.
Archer may currently be the celebrity at Featherdale but he best be watching out for Rory who stole a little piece of our hearts. 9 month old Rory was rescued from his mother’s pouch when she was hit by a car in the Blue Mountains area. Rory is currently being hand raised and looks to be quite content with his life at Featherdale. We all got to have a cuddle and like a baby, with a bit of rocking he was off to sleep in no time.
As visitors I think it is easy to forget that the parks are not just about us as visitors. Featherdale is providing education and a sanctuary to animals who would otherwise die if left in the wild in circumstances like Rory.
We always try and catch as many of the presentations as possible when we visit parks. I’m amazed at how many facts AJ has learnt through these talks and how she recalls them at the most random times. The presentations are usually short and interactive, ensuring kids stay interested. We watched the Flying Foxes presentation and the Penguin feeding on the weekend. Have you ever thought about how a Flying Fox drinks when they live upside down? As the presenter pointed out it would be pretty hard to drink from a cup while hanging upside down. The Flying Foxes fly and dip through water. They then drink the water which drips from their fur when they hang upside down. The only danger with this is crocodile inhabited water. That dip for a drink could equal fast food for the croc!
If you want to make the most of your day I suggest planning ahead by checking the presentation and feeding times here.
Parks like Featherdale become a part of childhood memories. We have visited several times over the years and I had a particularly lovely day with AJ when she was a preschooler.
Featherdale is home to 2,200 Australian native animals but it’s an intimate setting. It has enough to keep the kids occupied but the area is not so vast that you end up with tired and cranky little and big people at the end of the day.
AJ said Archer and Rory were her favourites from the day. Miss 7 took her stamped animal passport to school for news the next day. She was highly amused by one of the wallabies stealing it from her hand and having a nibble. Master 5 is a quiet little man but he apparently said that he’d like to live at Featherdale. As for BJ, well if he could take Sarah home he would have but in the meantime he made great progress with his furry animal issues. For me it was a great day with special friends. It was wonderful to see that despite the age gap the kids found common interests, had fun and interacted all day. My favourite memories from the day will certainly be holding Rory the wombat, meeting Archer the koala and BJ making a break through by snuggling into a couple of the animals.
- Hand wash stations are dotted around the park to keep everyone hygienic after patting the wildlife.
- Disabled toilet facilities can be found at two locations around the park. At the main entrance there is a large unisex facility. Within the park there are disabled toilet stalls within the womens and mens facilities. There is ramp access to both.
- BBQ’s and picnic tables are available.
- There is a cafe where visitors can purchase light meals, drinks, tea, coffee and ice creams.
- Disabled parking places are near the entrance to the park.
I noticed Archer making an appearance at a kid’s party which made me think what an ideal wheelchair friendly party destination Featherdale could be for an animal lover. The party area is quite private with trees keeping out prying eyes and a gate to prevent party-crashers. As much as I like the idea of home parties I’m not a fan of the work before and after. Information about the parties can be found here.
We’d like to make special mention of the lovely Sarah who certainly won us all over but found a special place in BJ’s heart. We felt very lucky to have a private tour of Featherdale with Sarah. Make sure you say ‘Hi’ if you are visiting. She is just as friendly as the animals.
If you are looking for somewhere to take the kids these holidays to ensure they are content and tuckered out at the end of the day (but in a good way) then I can recommend Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Thank you to Featherdale Wildlife Park for hosting our families for the day. As always, my opinions and enthusiasm are genuine and come from a great day out.
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