Australian Reptile Park
Back to nature
This is a zoo with all the buzz and fun of a theme park. It starts from the moment you arrive and see the giant frill-necked lizard crouched over the gate. A rap-dancing ‘spider’ will invite you into Spider World, where everything is larger than life, seen from the viewpoint of a small spider. Your kids will scream with delight at the sight of giant 3-metre-high animated spiders, not to mention the real bird-eating spiders, red-backs and deadly tarantulas! The kids will also dive eagerly through the mouth of a 20-metre-long crocodile into the Lost World of Reptiles, where weird, live reptiles are watched over by the glowing eyes of a giant Egyptian crocodile god.
Pacific Hwy, Somersby; (02) 4340 1022
■ The world’s only funnel-web spider ‘milking’ show. This is not just for entertainment – the venom milked from the spiders is used to make antivenom and save lives.
Sadly, in the year 2000, much of the Australian Reptile Park went up in flames, and most of the reptiles and spiders perished. One of the only survivors was an alligator snapping turtle who crawled through the hot embers and out of the collapsing building. Over the next few weeks there was a frantic effort to source new animals and reopen the zoo in temporary buildings. Some of the most urgently needed replacements were funnel-web spiders because antivenom supplies were needed in hospitals. Local residents hunted for male funnel-web spiders and brought them in so the program could start again.
■ There are entertaining and educational shows about the different animals throughout the day. If you’ve ever wanted to get up close to a giant python or a 160-kilogram Galapagos tortoise, this is your chance!