Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast has been a longstanding attraction for families, originally known for daily wild-lorikeet feeding by local beekeeper and flower-grower, Dr Alex Griffiths. More than seventy years on, the birds are still stars, but there’s now so much on offer that you’ll need at least one full day to experience all the play areas, shows, cafes, and amazing animals spread over 27 hectares of bushland and lush rainforest.
Animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to a wide variety of native and exotic wildlife, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has the A-Z of animals – there’s everything from bilbies to wombats! There are also unusual animals like capybaras (the largest rodent in the world) and cotton top tamarinds (super cute creatures that you could watch for hours), and then there are all the Aussie favourites like kangaroos you can feed and koalas you can cuddle.
You’ll also want to allow enough time to visit the Lost Valley precinct – five acres of stunning rainforest that is teeming with unique wildlife and birds including playful lemurs (say hi to King Julien!), cassowaries, red pandas, tree kangaroos, iguanas and binturongs.
To make your way around the sanctuary, you can follow the many signed pathways on foot, book a guided segway tour (extra cost for this option) or catch a small train between its three stops around the grounds.
Conservation at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is owned by the National Trust of Australia (Queensland). As a not-for-profit organisation, the National Trust reinvests proceeds back to fulfil its mission to protect, conserve and celebrate Queensland’s environmental, built and cultural heritage, funding both the Currumbin wildlife hospital and conservation programs statewide.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in the world, provides free veterinary treatment to over 11,500 sick, injured or orphaned native animals every year including over 500 koalas. You can even take a tour of the wildlife hospital, to see what happens behind the scenes (for an extra charge).
Shows at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
When you enter the sanctuary, you’ll receive a free park map with all the showtimes listed. The Wild Skies Free Flight Bird Show was recently re-launched and is one of our top picks. Watching a trained wedge-tailed eagle swoop over the crowd elicits plenty of oohs and aahs, and the show features a number of other clever native birds like magpies that sing into a microphone and a showy pelican that loves the limelight. There’s also a sheep-shearing show, reptile show, crocodile show, Aboriginal culture show and a Blinky Bill show.
In addition to shows, there are numerous animal feeding and information sessions that you can join in on. Check the park map and timetable on the day, but the opportunities could include pelican and eel feeding, dingo feeding, Tassie devil feeding and parrot feeding sessions.
Photo opportunities with wildlife
Throughout the day there are also plenty of opportunities to have a photo with an animal or bird, usually after a show. And while there is always a professional photographer (you can purchase the prints at the gift shop near the exit) they also allow you to take photos with your own camera from behind the photographer for free.
New splash and play areas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Families are the winners of the newest addition to the sanctuary – the Wild Island Adventure Splash and Play Zone. And while it does promise a wild time for kids, it’s actually a pretty tranquil spot for parents to relax in, thanks to the beautiful sub-tropical flora and fauna which surrounds the area, including the expansive lagoon that sits adjacent to Wild Island. While you can spread out a picnic rug on the grass or make use of one of the shaded seating areas, the kids can run off some steam at the Wild Island playground. Here they can make like one of the Aussie animals that are featured as sculptures and test out their skills on the wobbly rope bridges, spider web, shaded slides or the flying fox.
Once they’ve worked up a sweat, the Adventure Splash and Play Zone is the perfect place to cool down with a range of timed water jets, streams and waterfalls to run through, and a tipping bucket which leads to shrieks of surprise and delight every time it gives an unsuspecting group of kids a good drenching! An older playground, consisting mostly of tunnels and slides is just a short distance away from Wild Island and offers kids a third play option. It’s easy to spend quite a few hours in this area of the sanctuary. Read our review of Wild Island.
Accessibility and inclusivity
The Wild Island precinct is also wheelchair, pram and walker-friendly. And as part of this multi-million dollar precinct upgrade, the sanctuary now has new centralised bathrooms with a comfortable parents’ room, offering two private areas for baby feeding, a play area for toddlers, three baby change tables and sink, and a kitchenette for warming up baby bottles and food. The entry to the parents’ room is via an automatic sliding door to make it easier to manoeuvre prams and wheelchairs.
Entry to Wild Island is included with the price of your ticket or membership to the sanctuary.
More experiences at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
If the above wasn’t enough to keep your family busy, here are some more options!
Feed a 5-metre croc his lunch, cuddle a possum, learn how to train a bird or meet a spiky echidna. These are just some of the animal encounters that you can pay extra to experience at the sanctuary. It’s best to book these experiences online or in advance to avoid disappointment – they also make a great birthday or Christmas gift.
Tree Tops Challenge
If you’re 160cm or taller, you can try your hand at 80 tree-top challenges including 11 zip lines. Completing the course takes approximately three and a half hours, and is an extra cost. It would make a fun bonding experience for families and friends to attempt together.
Download the free Gruffalo Spotter App before you go, and use it as you navigate the signposted Gruffalo Trail through the sanctuary. As you follow the clues, you can point your phone at different signs to reveal all the animals from the well-loved Gruffalo stories. There’s also a daily meet-and-greet opportunity with the Gruffalo character, right next to the Wild Burgers cafe.
Where to eat at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
To keep costs down, you can pack a picnic lunch and bring your own drinks. There’s a number of cool spots where you can spread out a picnic rug, and there’s also shaded chairs and tables provided in various locations, including within the Wild Island adventure zone.
Otherwise, there is the Sanctuary Cafe located at the entry, which sells a wide range of food and drinks, including coffee. Next to the playground, you’ll find Wild Burgers, which sells mostly fast food such as hotdogs and burgers, as well as wraps and sandwiches and offers a Gruffalo meal-deal for kids. There’s also a general store, the Kangaroo Outpost (selling snacks, drinks, ice-creams etc) and the Aussie Scoop Ice Cream Parlour.
Opening hours and lorikeet feedings
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary opens daily at 8 am, which is earlier than most zoos or amusement parks, so you can pack more into your day. At both the opening and closing times (4 pm -5 pm), the wild lorikeets come into feed: hundreds of feathery bursts of colour that perch on your shoulders and head while greedily slurping the nectar mix that park volunteers have readily available. Best of all, you can feed the wild lorikeets and visit the Sanctuary Cafe for breakfast, lunch or snacks without paying to enter the wider sanctuary.