How to do the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in a day
Did you know the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary initially opened as a bird sanctuary back in 1947 to stop the local lorikeet population destroying the flower plantations?
Fast forward over 60 years later and while huge flocks of lorikeets still make their twice-daily appearance to be fed by visitors, this Gold Coast attraction has grown to include one of the largest collections of Australian native species in the world.
But not only will you find your classic Aussie characters (kangaroos, saltwater crocs, koalas, wombats, devils, heck, even old mate Blinky Bill!), the sanctuary doubles as an adventure park with a high ropes course turning the rainforest treetops into its own zoological playground.
Sound like your kind of wildlife experience? Grab your selfie sticks and follow these tips to make the most out of a day at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
(PS. If you’re combining your visit with a vacay on the Gold Coast, check out this accommodation guide.)
Morning sessions: It’s brekkie time!
And we’re not just talking about the animals.
If you were so excited you arrived before 8am, the Sanctuary Cafe at the main entrance opens at 7:30am every day, so grab a coffee and a bite to eat before the park opens.
TIP: Entry to the Sanctuary Cafe, Nature’s Gift Store, and lorikeet feeding is FREE.
8AM: Feed the lorikeets
Once you’ve filled your bellies, it’s time to help the lorikeets fill theirs.
Wander down to the lorikeet arena and grab a plate in exchange for a gold coin donation. Once you’ve found a spot, one of the rangers will fill it with a mixture replicating the nectar these colourful parrots find on blossoms in the wild.
Be warned, you might want to bring a hat or not place too much emphasis on your hair that day, as these guys are so comfortable being around humans, they’ll sit on your head and shoulders while they wait their turn (which in my opinion is the best part!).
Afterwards, head to the ticket station to buy your pass for the day, or if you bought one online, make sure you’ve got your e-ticket handy.
Once inside, there are a few favourites you’ll want to check out in this area before walking across to the main section of the park:
- Snoozing koalas having a sleep-in.
- Blinky Bill’s Home Tree and Slide, also known as the Nocturnal Zone – this is where one of Australia’s most beloved and iconic cartoon characters calls home (childhood dreams = made), but you’ll also find bilbies, reptiles, fish, turtles and gliders.
- The Bleeding-Heart Dove at the Forest Fringe Aviary – this bird completely lives up to its name, with a blood-like colour stain across its breast.
9AM: Pelican and eel feeding
You probably weren’t expecting to see this one on the daily show timetable, but that’s why it’s so great! It’s so random and unusual in comparison to your run-of-the-mill animal experiences, that you just can’t pass it up.
Head through the Wild Island Adventure Playground to the bank on Flat Rock Creek where you’ll be greeted by eager pelicans and the dark slithery figures of eels awaiting their morning feast.
You’ll meet their two resident pelicans – Rod and Lady – and wild ones who join in for the daily feed, and get an insight into the intriguing life of the resilient eel, who likes eating chicken and can actually travel across land if it wants to. #eelfacts101
TIP: Stick around if you can as they try to get the eels onto the bank to give you a closer look, but by now the kids will probably be pestering you to roam the playground, where a flying fox, fossicking site and spider web provide hours of fun.
10AM: To the kangas
But first, coffee time! Get your caffeine fix from the Kangaroo Outpost. If the kids need a little pick-me-up as well, they’ve also got snacks like sandwiches and hot sausage rolls.
If feeding kangaroos is at the top of your Aussie animal bucket list, then you’ll want to head on over around this time, because come midday they will be full from all their visitors and will most likely be in siesta mode.
Have some gold coins handy for a cup of roo food!
Got little ones in tow?
- Head to the Blinky Bill’s Wildlife To the Rescue Show instead to see how Blinky and Nutsy save the sanctuary’s newest addition, the VIA (aka Very. Important. Animal.), who’s gone missing after being ambushed by a sneaky cat.
- Do a lap aboard the steam train as it choo choo choo’s you around the park.
TIP: Want to get your bearings on the lay of the land? You can still stop and feed the kangaroos on a segway safari!
Your personal wildlife officer will give you a 10-minute low down on how to tame your two-wheeled beast, before taking off on a 40-minute grand tour around the park.
Segway safaris run daily on the hour from 10am to 3pm. Head to the Visitor Services desk on the day to book your spot.
Midday sessions: It’s all about the fangs and scales
11:15AM: The Big Fang Theory
From blue tongue lizards to Fluffy the carpet python and the venomous brown snake, you’ll come away with a newfound respect and admiration for these animals, plus learn important info like snake bite first aid and rules of the bush.
Hang back after the show to pat Zachary the lizard – named because his-face-looks-ex-zacharay-like-his-bum – and to get snap-happy with a python.
Where to next:
- Take the kids to meet the sanctuary’s very own wildlife whisperer, Dr. Doo-Lots at the Creature Teachers Show at 11.45am.
- Follow the path around to the merino rams, quokkas, dingoes and koalas.
- Visit the colourful characters at Bilinbah – Land of the Parrots – before spying on the flying foxes (keep an eye out for the corners of their enclosure, where you’ll usually find them lining upside down in rows).
Got those hangry feels? You won’t want to stray too far from this main area, so tuck into a hearty burger combo or fish and chips at Wild Burgers.
After lunch: Crocs and a bird lover’s delight
1PM: Crocodile Behaviour Show
Two words: Boss Hog.
This magnificent saltwater beauty weighs in at around 800 kilograms and is almost five metres in length! After a glimpse of this big fella, it’s not hard to believe salties are the largest of all living reptiles, especially in comparison to the smaller freshwater crocs you’ll spot on your way into the enclosure.
But even if you don’t get to see him or his girlfriend Lily jump out of the water to snag a feed*, it’s still well worth heading over to learn more about them and how they came to be at the sanctuary.
*Because salties are cold-blooded, they get all the energy they need to warm their blood from the sun, so during the cooler months of the year they tend to be more dormant.
TIP: Beat the crowds and head over to the croc enclosure at least 15 minutes before the show to secure a prime viewing spot.
Where to next:
- Take another look at the freshwater crocs, because seriously, how teeny-tiny are they when compared to Boss Hog and Lily?!
- Follow the rainforest boardwalk to spot the tree kangaroos, who look like a cross between possum/bear/kangaroo.
- Visit the cute-as-a-button rock wallabies who share their enclosure with the brolgas.
- Didn’t get a chance to feed the kangaroos earlier? Head over now to laze and graze with these cuties and snap a selfie. While you’re there, keep an eye out for roaming emus.
2:10PM: Free Flight Bird Show
TIP: On your way to the show, get a head start on all things birds by stopping in at the Conservation Aviary. You’ll likely hear the call of the Chiming Wedgebill before you reach it.
Take a seat and watch your noggin during this incredible performance, as birds literally free fly back and forth right over your heads! This is likely the closest you will ever get to these amazing creatures, ranging from the cockatoo and barking owl to Australia’s largest bird of prey, the endangered wedge-tailed eagle.
Well, that’s unless you get your photo taken with one after the show!
What else is happening: If you didn’t get a chance to see the wombats and Tasmanian Devils earlier because they were snoozing/playing hide ‘n’ seek, then your best shot at catching them is during their afternoon feeds: wombats at 2:15pm and devils at 2:30pm.
Afternoon sessions: Koala cuddles, sheep shearing and an Aboriginal Dance Show
3:15pm: Exclusive Koala Experience
TIP: If you’ve got tired legs, catch the steam train from your closet station back to the koala meeting point.
You know those moments when you realise your face is sore because you were smiling so freakin’ much? Well, this was one of those experiences.
Go behind the scenes with an expert koala handler as they take you through the ‘off-limits’ enclosure where these guys call home.
You’ll talk all things koala, learning who’s who, how they got here, and cool facts about their lives, like why some are named after chocolates (spoiler alert: because it helps group them by the years they were born).
But the best bit? Getting free time to walk around the enclosure for a better look at these cuties, asking the handler as many questions as you like, taking amazing close-up shots and #koalaselfies, and then the pièce de résistance… getting a cuddle and a professional photo of the moment to take home with you.
PS. I’m pretty sure this little guy loved me just as much as I loved him, I mean, look at that grip! I’m convinced he didn’t want to let me go (the feeling was mutual).
NOTE: This experience needs to be pre-booked before your arrival.
Psst... Have you already had your fair share of intimate koala moments?
- Get a taste of the Australian outback at the Sheep Shearing Show at 2:45pm.
- Celebrate local Indigenous culture with a performance by the Yugambeh Aboriginal Dancers at 3:30pm.
Do some good: the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital
If you find yourself with some spare time in between shows and animal visits, pop around to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.
While you can’t actually go inside unless you’ve signed up for the Behind the Scenes Tour (book at the Green Patch General Store for just $15pp), you can still wander the deck with a bird’s-eye view of vets in action through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and get an insight into the incredible work these heroes do in the rehabilitation and preservation of our wildlife.
Extra karma points: Spare some change and make a donation to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation.
Worthy mention: The TreeTop Challenge
Taking the wild out of wildlife is the sanctuary’s TreeTop Challenge: five large courses traversing through natural bushland, 11 insane zip lines (including the Croc Shock where you fly over the salties and freshwater snappers), and 80 TreeTop Challenges ranging from rope monkey bars to balancing on suspended bridges.
Keep in mind this adrenalin-pumping bad boy takes around 3.5 hours to complete, so before booking do a little research to see what shows/encounters you really don’t want to miss.
To top off the day…
Treat yourselves to an ice-cream from the Sanctuary Cafe before you leave, or if it’s a Friday, stick around for the Sanctuary Markets in the Village Green and go to town on their tasty multicultural treats.