The Australian Reptile Park has been a favourite family attraction for many years.
The wildlife park houses a wide range of animals, from spiders to mammals to birds.
Of course they have plenty of snakes and spiders. And deadly ones such as funnel-web spider, eastern brown snake and common death adder.
As well as a huge saltwater crocodile. A lake full of alligators. A Galapagos tortoise. Wombats, dingoes, Tasmanian devils and platypuses.
You can see koalas up close eating gum leaves and kangaroos roaming freely.
The experience at The Australian Reptile Park is enjoyable because you get close to the animals. You see them inside the exhibits and during shows. Also staff walks around the site with creatures in their arms that you can approach such as snakes.
All the exhibits and shows are fascinating, but some have left a bigger imprint on us than others. Here are our highlights...
The Australian Reptile Park houses one saltwater crocodile, Elvis. And he’s kind of aggressive...
Elvis was removed from Darwin Harbour after attacking fishing boats. They then sent him to a crocodile farm for breeding, but he killed his girlfriends. At last they sent him to the Australian Reptile Park. After Elvis charged at workers and pulled their lawnmower in the water, they dubbed him the "World Crankiest Crocodile".
Elvis measures 5 m and is one of the biggest saltwater crocodiles in captivity.
When he snatches the food you can hear the bang of his jaw slamming shut. This crocodile gives me chills and it’s my favourite show.
Kangaroos roam freely around the picnic site. They are tame and let you approach and feed them (you can buy food at the kiosk). It’s a lovely experience for children. And visitors who have not yet seen kangaroos in the wild. Feeding the kangaroos is one of my children’s favourite moments at the Australian Reptile Park.
The Reptile Show is a compelling show. You see many reptiles and of course deadly exotic and Australian snakes.
They bring the reptiles hidden in boxes to the show pit and take them out one at a time. You never know what creature they’re going to take out next.
The staff explains facts about the lizard or snake’s origin and behaviour. They explain how they attack and how venomous they are. They show how they collect the venom from a snake and explain how the anti-venom is produced.
Mostly the show entertains. If Ranger Mick presents you are in for a laugh... he has a great sense of humour: “If you want to pick up a snake and not get bitten it’s simple: get someone else to do it”.
Spider world is an exhibit room full of spiders. You see funnel-webs, tarantulas and other common Australian spiders.
Spider World is fun for toddlers and pre-schoolers. A puppet spider dancing on rap music greets you at the door. Pull a lever or press a button and a spider appears. Incy Wincy Spider moves up and up the ‘water spout’. A giant mechanical spider with a scary voice rears up.
Behind the viewing window you may see staff milking funnel-web spiders... they collect venom from the spiders’ fangs with a pipette.
To collect enough venom to meet the demand for anti-venom, they rely on people catching and bringing the spiders in... But as Ranger Mick says: “PLEASE don't go turning over rocks looking for funnel-web spiders, especially if you are young and male”.
The alligators congregate at the jetty where they are being fed and jump out of the water to grab the food. It’s exciting to watch. This photo doesn't do it justice.
This show focusses on the plight of Tasmanian devils.
Tasmanian devils face extinction because of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a contagious cancer with no cure. The number of devils decreased by 90% in the last twenty years. Today less than twenty-five thousands remain in the wild.
Every day the 63-year-old Hugo the Galapagos tortoise comes out of its enclosure. It goes for a stroll and gets fed. It’s quite an experience to stand next to a 166 kg tortoise.
Sometime after lunch we like to take a break from the scheduled shows and go for a walk. You can walk along the alligator lake and in the bush on the paved pathway. The bird cages are located along the pathway.
The large playground you can see at the back of the photo helps break the day if you have kids. The playground is centrally located and beside picnic tables.
Open daily 9 am - 5 pm; closed on Christmas day.
Adult $33; child (3-15) $17; concession $20; family pass for a family of four $85
You can buy food and coffee at the kiosk but we prefer to bring our own food and snacks. We eat at one of the picnic tables in the centre of the Australian Reptile Park or next to the playground. We leave our picnic bags at one of the tables while we visit. You can also cook on free gas barbecues.
Located in Somersby (near Gosford) on the Central Coast NSW, about 1h from Sydney or 1h15 from Newcastle on the Sydney - Newcastle freeway (M1/F3). Take the Gosford exit and follow the signs.