I first visited Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to feed the lorikeets in the 70s. It was my favourite thing to do on the Gold Coast as a child and I used to beg Mum (usually unsuccessfully) to visit the sanctuary multiple times. Feeding the wild lorikeets is a long-standing tradition that began when the sanctuary’s founder tried to stop the birds damaging his flowers by giving them something else to eat. The lorikeet feeding developed into a surprise tourist attraction and loads of people began coming along to watch and join in.
Our family of two adults and a teen hadn’t visited Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary since our son was eight. We had a ball back then but I couldn’t help but wonder how our now 16 year old would enjoy the sanctuary this time around. I had always thought of it as a place to take younger children, not sophisticated teens. However, much to our surprise, we all had a great time. In fact, I think we enjoyed our recent visit even more than the first time.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been operating for more than 70 years and still has the world’s largest collection of Australian native wildlife. Established in 1947, it is one of the oldest attractions on the Gold Coast and is considered so important that it’s owned by the National Trust. It’s also a not-for-profit organisation so everything you spend goes towards the upkeep of the sanctuary and its animals, the on-site wildlife hospital and Australian wildlife conservation projects. If you love animals, visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is an easy and really enjoyable way to help protect them for future generations.
The lorikeet feeding still takes place at 8am and 4pm each day and, of course, you can still see favourites such as koalas and kangaroos. However, our favourite attraction this time around was completely new. The Lost Valley takes visitors on a journey through the ancient supercontinent Gondwana and includes five acres of rainforest, with animals including lemurs, cotton-top tamarins, red pandas, capybaras (which look a bit like giant guinea pigs) plus free-flying birds, exotic reptiles and more.
Even though they’re in an enclosure, you can get quite close to the animals. We loved seeing the lemurs, Diego the huge green iguana and a tree kangaroo. It was the first time we had seen these animals up close instead of on a nature documentary. Many birds including two beautiful blue South American parrots fly free around the enclosure and perch on the railings which makes it easy to see the birds and get good photos.
We also visited the wildlife hospital and saw an operation taking place from the viewing deck outside. If you are a bit squeamish like me there is no need to worry as you can’t see anything ‘yukky’. An owl had flown into a moving car and been brought into the wildlife hospital to be stitched up. It was set to make a full recovery but may not have survived without the treatment it received at the sanctuary’s wildlife hospital.
Another great thing to do when you visit is the see the shows. When you arrive check the program for what’s on that day and see the other attractions in between the shows in the amphitheatre. There’s a Blinky Bill show that’s a hit with younger kids and the Big Fang Theory show is all about reptiles. There’s not a lot of action in this show – it’s more about the handlers walking around the amphitheatre so everyone gets a good at the reptiles – so it’s a great one for adults and older kids but tiny tots might get a bit bored.
The Wild Skies Free Flight Bird Show is a crowd pleaser for all ages with some of Australia’s most impressive birds soaring around the undercover amphitheatre. The birds get so close you can feel the wind as they whoosh past your head. The show talks about the feeding habits of pelicans, how black kites regenerate bushland and how the wedge tailed eagle has been brought back from the brink of extinction. It’s easy for kids to understand without being boring for adults which we found pretty impressive.
One last tip: have a chat to the volunteers at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. More than 500 volunteers give up their time to share their love of animals and knowledge about the sanctuary. Many have been helping out for years and know all about the animals on show and the sanctuary’s history.
Disclosure: The writer visited as a guest of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and would not hesitate to visit the sanctuary again at her own expense.
Looking for some Gold Coast accommodation? Read our reviews of the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Oaks Calypso Plaza, The Darling, Surfers Paradise Marriott, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, The Star Grand, voco Gold Coast, Wyndham Hotel Surfers Paradise, AVANI Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences, Rydges Gold Coast Airport, Oaks Gold Coast Hotel, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, and the retro La Costa Motel. If you’re visiting the Gold Coast, don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to the Gold Coast.