As you wend your way through the bushland setting of this zoo, dry leaves crunch underfoot and the air is filled with eucalyptus scent and the ring of bird calls. You step into a walk-through enclosure to find kangaroos and wallabies lazing all around you on the ground. One kangaroo lumbers to its feet, and hops forward. Hastily, you pour some animal feed into your kids’ hands, and they squeal as the kangaroo grips their fingers with its little black paws and nuzzles the food out of their palms.
■ The Friendship Farm where kids can pat and feed the animals.
■ The keeper talks throughout the day, especially the koala presentation (twice daily) where you can line up afterwards to pat a koala.
■ The Koala, Snake and Crocodile Experiences (extra cost), which follow the keeper presentations. You have a cuddle (yes, you can even cuddle a baby crocodile), and receive a photo as a memento. Pre-purchase these encounters at Palm Cafe when you arrive.
■ The Creepy Crawly Display with giant burrowing cockroaches, rainforest tarantulas and giant millipedes.
The black-capped capuchins you see at the zoo are the only monkeys that naturally make use of ‘tools’ such as stones to open fruit and nuts. They come from the Amazon Basin area of South America where they are hunted for food.
■ The zoo has all the Australian favourites, as well as many exotic animals including lemurs, monkeys, camels and red pandas.
■ Food for the kangaroos, deer and farm animals can be purchased at low cost.
■ The best time to visit is on a weekday when the zoo is quiet.
■ This is a small, manageable-sized zoo for kids to explore.
■ Raised viewing areas are provided for littlies.
■ There are picnic lawns and free barbecue facilities as well as a cafe.
■ You can book a special encounter with red pandas or marmosets, where you actually hand-feed and pat the animals (high extra cost, minimum age 8 years).
■ Check the daily schedule online or when you arrive to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities.
■ Pram hire is available, but it is advisable to book ahead.