ellaslist Review: Getting Up Close To the Animals At Hunter Valley Wildlife Park
- Mums & Bubs
If you're on the hunt for a family day trip or getaway, we've discovered just the place!
Longing for an out-of-town escape where we could discover something new to do, we recently ventured out to greener pastures about two hours north of Sydney, arriving in the stunning region of the Hunter Valley.
Believe it or not, wine trails and cellar doors were not the lures that got us there - it was a taste of the great outdoors that we wanted, where we could leave the humdrum behind, as well as show off the extraordinary beauty of our home state to our eager globe-trotter.
Despite being the heart of NSW wine country, this beautiful regional wonderland has so much more to discover. One such hidden gem is Hunter Valley Wildlife Park, a serene animal park that none of us had ever visited before, so we welcomed the new adventure with open arms - and hands full of animal feed.
From the outset, Hunter Valley Wildlife Park has a whole different feel from other animal attractions. Perhaps it’s the gorgeous countryside that surrounds the site, or the calmness that comes from being away from the city, but Hunter Valley Wildlife Park has a relaxed ambience and unique intimacy that permeates the air with the hissing cicadas and twittering birdlife. It’s an intimate setting that lends itself to the immersive experience of getting up close to their much-loved family of animals through a myriad of walk-throughs and interactive enclosures, yet it boasts an abundance of natural, open space to meander through.
It was a blistering hot day as we entered the park, made bearable by the cool breeze and ample shaded spots. Some animals took shelter in cavernous logs and rock caves to escape the sun, while others couldn’t help but socialise with the avid visitors.
The huge kangaroos and wallabies' yard was a tranquil retreat for a collection of tame, furry friends that we could feed and pat, including a rare albino wallaby, while the lively farmyard was abuzz with a cacophony of deers, sheep and goats, in brazen pursuit of a snack.
We delighted in witnessing the cheeky camels and earnest ostriches battle it out for feeding supremacy, as they boldly staked out the perimeter of their enclosure to try and steal the ice-cream cones full of fodder from our hands!
There are aviaries dotted throughout the park creating a symphony of sounds and a vibrant display of colour from the sweet, spotted bowerbirds to the striking blue and gold macaw. The friendly rainbow lorikeets put on an unbelievable show in their walk-through enclosure, perching themselves on our arms and shoulders to claim their stake of the food.
There is a broad selection of exotic primates on show at the park from emperor tamarins to squirrel monkeys (one had the cutest, tiny baby on her back!), a fascinating array of reptiles (we counted no less than 11 American alligators mooching around the swamp) and African cats including the serval, lions and cheetahs.
Plus, we came face-to-face with the largest rodent in the world - the capybara.
Native Aussie favourites are also at home in the Hunter, including Tasmanian devils, wombats, dingoes, flying foxes and, of course, koalas.
My personal fauna favourite at any wildlife park is always the magnificent meerkats and they did not disappoint this time! We arrived just in time to see a lucky pair of animal lovers playfully interacting with them in their exhibit as part of a totally enviable Meerkat Encounter. Lion encounters are also now available at Hunter Valley Wildlife Park so you can feed the king of the jungle on your visit. Plus, a new Giraffe feeding encounter starts in April 2022.
The park has an outdoor cafe and coffee cart with hot food, sandwiches, ice creams, cold drinks, snacks and, of course, Barista-made coffee! There is ample open-air seating in close proximity to the animal enclosures so you can stop for a spot of lunch surrounded by the ambient sounds of lions roaring, watching the camels, ostriches or squirrel monkeys and seeing the resident peacocks roaming the area.
My 11-year-old daughter had some added highlights with the passport that she could stamp along her journey as she found each animal and, of course, the gift shop which is bursting with fun treats and trinkets.
Hunter Valley Wildlife Park recently joined Mogo Wildlife Park and Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park under the coveted Australian Wildlife Parks umbrella, bringing together Australia’s biggest private collection of animals. Each park is uniquely different and stands firmly behind its philosophy that 'animals always come first'. Hunter Valley Wildlife Park delivers top-notch care for their diverse collection of native and exotic animals while giving visitors the opportunity to engage with them more closely than anywhere else - so it's a win for the animals and for us, and makes for a truly memorable experience.
Hunter Valley Wildlife Park accepts Service NSW Dine and Discover vouchers and Parent NSW vouchers - you can combine your Parent Vouchers to get a free annual pass or use them towards animal encounters until 30th June 2022.
Check out Australia's Top Value Wildlife Parks Annual Pass including 3 Parks in 1 plus 20% off animal encounters and 20% off café and gift shop purchases.
Hunter Valley Wildlife Park Essentials
Where: Lomas Lane, Nulkaba, NSW
When: Open daily 9 am – 4 pm | Closed on Christmas Day
Cost: Adults $38 | Concession $35 | Children – $25 | 2 and under FREE.
Family Passes from $59 | Annual Passes from $105.
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