There’s nothing that kids love more than getting up close and personal with furry, fluffy, scaly, friendly creatures! Check these wildlife experiences out and add them to your to-do list for your next visit to the Gold Coast. They’re great for a fun, active, relaxed day out for the whole family.
1. Sea World on the Gold Coast
Believe it or not, Sea World has so much more than just jumping dolphins and scream-inducing roller coasters. At the marine theme park, you can have close-up experiences with some of your favourite sea-dwelling creatures, including sharks, penguins, tropical reef lagoon rays, or even Australia’s only polar bears! If there’s a serious dolphin lover in your family then you can even swim with dolphins in deep water for a once in a lifetime experience. Or, you could enter the frozen ocean world of the King and Gentoo penguins for a close-up encounter with the furry, fluffy little guys.
Sea World does amazing work in the Gold Coast area helping out all kinds of marine life that have found themselves in dangerous situations. Sea World’s Rescue Team are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, rescuing whales, sharks and dolphins that have become stuck in shark nets, or those that are found injured, entangled or stranded all along the coast.
Sea World’s Neptune Oceanic Foundation has supported over 180 marine science research projects, with a portion of the money you spend buying your tickets and within the theme park being donated to support these important missions. It really is a win-win for everyone!
2. Dream World on the Gold Coast
For those who love marine animals, Sea World is the go. However, if your family is all about land animals like tigers, koalas, crocodiles, tree kangaroos, dingoes, frogs and birds (just to name a few) – Dream World is the place for you!
Dream World is most famous for its interactive tiger exhibit, Tiger Island. There are less than 4000 tigers left in the wild now, so booking a face to face experience with one of these beautiful creatures is actually directly helping their survival. Part of your ticket goes towards the Dream World Wildlife Foundation, which partners with wildlife conservation groups all over the world to help save tigers. There are daily tiger shows at Dream World at noon and 3.30 p.m., so you’ll be able to learn all about these majestic creatures and what we can do to make sure they stay around forever.
Dream World’s other wildlife experiences on offer include a Sunset Safari, where you can get up close and personal with the wildlife of the park after dark, seeing what they get up to at sunset. In the warmer months (and if you’re game for it) you can feed the crocodiles and dingoes. Or, if small, cuddly creatures that don’t bite is more your idea of a good time, why not get an adorable photo with a koala or beautiful bird?
3. The David Fleay Wildlife Park
Founded in 1952 by Australian naturalist David Fleay, the David Fleay Wildlife Park is a beautiful heritage listed Wildlife Conservation Park on the Gold Coast. This park is great for seeing animals in enclosures that are as close to their natural environment as possible. It’s said that Fleay looked all over Brisbane and South East Queensland for the perfect venue to home Australian native wildlife, before deciding on this stunning location in Tallebudgera.
You can visit the nocturnal house to see some of Australia’s most well-known wildlife, or take a stroll through the tropical wetlands enclosures. You can find crocodiles, emus, koalas, dingoes, bilbies, kangaroos, and the resident platypus, Wally. The rangers give daily informative talks about the different types of wildlife found in the park and how they’re cared for – or you can explore the park all on your own!
The park continues to uphold David Fleay’s passion for research, breeding and education, giving you the rare chance to see many animals that are actually threatened in the wild, all in one fun day out!
4. Birds of Prey at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is located in the Lamington National Park, surrounded by lush rainforest and sloping hillsides. It has welcomed travellers for over 92 years to reconnect with nature, learn about birds of prey, explore the local area and simply relax.
At O’Reilly’s, you can choose to stay in their cosy serviced accommodation at the Gold Coast Hinterland Rainforest Retreat, if you want to serious about seeing some truly beautiful wildlife. There are 48 architecturally designed villas that look over the McPherson Ranges, with staying onsite giving you the opportunity to go on plenty of guided bird walks, animal show viewings and famous Tree Top Walks. You can even hire a segway to go through the creek crossing to Moran Falls, where the Lost World Day Spa awaits you – think wet-edge infinity lap pools with flocks of birds flying overhead surrounded by a lush tropical wilderness…. Absolutely divine!
Michael ‘The Birdman’ Culleton runs the amazing Birds of Prey shows at the centre, with the one-on-one Birds of Prey Encounters offering a rare opportunity to see the great wingspan of Australia’s largest bird of prey – the Wedge-tailed Eagle. The Wildlife Encounter Show also gives you the chance to get up close and personal with a range of reptiles, mammals and birds, with the encore being an elusive Spotted-tailed Quoll (a Lamington National Park local!)
Relaxing after a big day of adventure
With all this adventuring and wildlife-spotting, you and the family are bound to have worked up an appetite. After a big day, come and relax at The Coolangatta Hotel for a tasty meal and a quality drink.