My plus one is British, recently arrived in Australia and keen to have as many great Australian and Brisbane experiences as possible. Beaches, great cafes, hot sunny winter days (he’s been loving those) and tropical island escapes. Of course, no visit to Australia is complete without a trip to Australia Zoo. In fact he told me that Australia Zoo was ‘number one on his list of one things-to-do in Australia’.
So when was told he’d have last Friday off from work, I hastily took a day off as well and that’s how we came to be cashing in our tickets at the ‘Steve Irwin Zoo’ gates on a glorious week day morning.
If you can get to Australia Zoo on a weekday, perhaps especially in winter, it is worth it. There were so few people around, even less small children, it makes moving around and seeing the exhibits easy and much more enjoyable.
I had sent the Boy a link to the show times on the Australia Zoo website (see it here) and he came back with an impressive day plan of shows. We missed the tortoise feeding at 10 because I was having a lazy breakfast at Gramarcy (delicious, must try) but we made it to the Wildlife Warriors show, which is my favourite for the incredible bird displays, the tiger show (Boy’s favourite), we fed the elephants at 3pm and then rounded off the day by watching the Asian Small-Clawed Otter feeding at 3:30. The only show we missed was the croc show. Shameful, perhaps, but we saw a croc display in the Wildlife Warriors show and tigers and elephants could not be missed.
It was a truly great day out. We took our time going around all the exhibits, took a couple of hundred photos of us posing with all the animals, munched on a home-made picnic while watching macaws and kites circle the crocoseum. We fed the kangaroos, another of my favourite zoo activities. Such a simple, enjoyable interaction with our native animals, I can never get tired of it.
My Boy could not get over the difference between Australia Zoo and zoos he had visited in England. Obviously here a big difference is in the activity of the animals. Being in warm sunshine, even in winter, encourages them to be more active and visible, rather than curled up against the cold and rain in the secret holes of their enclosures. Also, the level of interaction Australia Zoo in particular allows with the animals is outstanding. Because the animals are more active in their relatively open and visitor-friendly enclosures, you can get up-close and personal. The Zoo also provides a lot of additional opportunities to see the animals by taking them on walks around the zoo and feeding sessions, such as with the elephants. All of this helps to create a memorable day.
A hint from the keepers; come to the 3pm elephant feeding. There is the same about of food and a third of the number of people as the 10:30am session, so you can go around the feeding line multiple times really quickly.
The Africa exhibit was still under construction the last time I visited in 2010, so I was glad to see it on this trip. Unfortunately, it was being re-constructed to make space for the baby rhinoceroses that will go on display from 22 June. So the giraffe were hidden away elsewhere as their enclose was having a redesign. Disappointing for me, because they are one of my favourite animals.
The ticket price to get in may seem steep – between $53 and $59 dollars for an adult, depending on if you have a discount voucher, which you can get if you are an RACQ member – but when you consider the over all experience and that it is most certainly a whole day trip, it is worth the money. We were there for five and a half hours, making the ticket price an average of $10 per hour. Pretty good for the quality of the entertainment.You can also save a lot of money by taking your own food as we did and not being tempted into any of the official photo opportunities, tempting as they may be.
So that is one more experience ticked off the list. Thanks to Australia Zoo for a tremendous day out. It was everything we were both looking forward to!
You can also read the Boy (Pumba as he is affectionately known) on his brand new blog; Pumba’s International Escape.