Perhaps the coolest part of our visit to Australia was seeing Featherdale Wildlife Park outside of Sydney. It’s sort of a zoo and sort of a petting zoo, and easily visited using a convenient train and bus trip from even the most downtown of Sydney addresses. As with everything in Oz, it’s a bit spendy to get there ($12 Australian for the roundtrip train and $4 Australian for the roundtrip bus), and then $23 for admission to the Park which is $39 Australian for a visit if my math is right. Add to that the “feed the critters” feature which allows you to pay $1 Australian for a cake ice cream cone with food in it- and you’ll want at least five of these because feeding kangaroos, wallabies, emus and the other birds in the feeding zones is a real thrill!
Upon arrival, you get your ticket and walk in, not exactly sure what to expect and you are immediately in an area with lovely fish, birds and wallabies roaming free to interact with you as they choose (and the animals DO choose- there are shelters away from people to which they can retreat). It’s a bit overwhelming, especially since the only place I’d been able to view these creatures before was on a screen or a page and, now, here they were, eager to get to know me (and whatever food I might have brought to share with them, of course).
Feeding a ‘Roo
There are many species who thrive at Featherdale. Most of us go to hang out with kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas and, should that be the case for you, you will not be disappointed. The kangaroos and wallabies roam free and you are welcomed to get ice cream cones of food to feed them ($1 each) as often as you wish but unlimited petting and photos are free. (By the way, the wallabies and kangaroos have soft, velvety fur).
Cuddling a Koala
You wait in line to pet/get a photo with a koala but you are welcomed to wait in line as often as you wish and if nobody else is waiting, you can hang out with the koala as long as you wish. Koala fur is also soft but not as velvety soft as the ‘roos and both of the koalas that I was able to pet were very sweet and seemed to enjoy the attention. Despite what people told me about the koalas being drunk from eucalyptus, this seems not to be the case Basically, they have developed a low-energy lifestyle to support a low-energy intake requirement. Also, while we were told that they have a distinctive sound, the ones we spent time with were silent.
Mikey the Massively Cute Koala
While you can touch the kangaroos, wallabies, and emus wherever they allow it (same with the farm animal petting zoo), you can only pet the lower back area of the koalas and we were told that holding the koalas as a tourist was illegal in New South Wales (the “state” we were in). Why the lower back? The lower back is far from their mouths, I think, and the handlers told us that they considered face petting to be an act of aggression. While the koala hangs out in a “tree”, you can pet them and take photos while they munch on a eucalyptus buffet (or nap peacefully, as Mikey is above). Again, the koalas were in control of the situation with interacting with the Park’s visitors. When they have had enough of being adored and photographed by their visitors, they start to climb down their “trees” and their handlers immediately take them back to their habitats and bring out another koala to feast on bountiful, tender young eucalyptus leaves until they are similarly fed up (get it? Fed up? Full of eucalyptus leaves? HA!)
Little Penguins (Blue Penguins/ Fairy Penguins)
Echidna- the females of the species will only mate if there are at least ten males vying for their attentions. How diva!
Other Creatures, Great and Small
Okay okay… so there are hundreds or thousands of animals there. My favorites were the Little (blue) Penguins, echidnas, koalas, turtles and kangaroos. The Tasmanian devil was an intriguing creature and was spoiling for a fight with anyone who approached the enclosure although I heard the noise that the Looney Toons Taz makes while we were watching it. My camera died before I discovered another amazing creature: the golden pheasant. Incredible bird. There were dozens of beautiful, unique creatures and I enjoyed our day there so much!
Make it a great day! You can tell that our day at Featherdale was!