Whilst we were working on a mango farm near Darwin our host dropped us at the Territory Wildlife Park for a day off. I love a zoo or wildlife park, and this park was no different, filled with beautiful animals and plants and plenty of shows to make the day educational too.
We arrived at Territory Wildlife Park bright and early to start the day. The car park was almost empty and there was no queue to purchase our tickets, which were $27 each (if you have a student ID discounts apply). After a quick deliberation we decided to head to the Nocturnal House first. This is filled with bats and rats, wallabies and possums, snakes and spiders. The latter caused our friend to stay outside and wait for us to return. The animals were all really active, scurrying around and trying to hide in the dark. Many of the enclosures also had live video streams outside the enclosure, allowing visitors to observe the creatures that were out of site of the viewing windows.
From here we hopped on the park train, which runs ever half hour and aims to drop people off as shows are about to start. Which is exactly why we were on it, to go to the sand bar and hear about the fish there. This wasn’t my favorite talk of the day, mainly because they were having trouble with the microphone so it was hard to hear what was going on. We stood along the railing, resting our hands across the top. Unexpectedly my hand was soaked by something, I looked up to see if a bird had flown over and peed on me but there was nothing there. I was baffled. We continued to watch as some volunteers were taken from the audience to feed the rays. At the end an assistant came along the railing offering worms for people to hold over the water. I watched some children in a row holding their worms over the side in hushed anticipation. Then a fish spat at the bug to knock it from their hand! The sand bar had archer fish in it, that have evolved to shoot water at bugs on branches to knock them in the water. These guys were great fun to watch, and explained my surprise wet hand!
Our next stop was the flight deck for the birds of prey show. I always enjoy a good bird show, and Territory Wildlife Park’s did not disappoint. As the presenter introduced a bird it would swoop in from behind the trees and land where he was supposed to, with owls and eagles landing on his arm or close by and flocks of rainbow lorikeets flying over our heads to perches behind us and back again. This was my favorite talk of the day. The birds were set tasks, such as cracking eggs, to demonstrate how they live in the wild, their intelligence and performance capabilities.
After the show many of the birds were on display, with carers holding them and telling more in depth information about the individual birds. The Territory Wildlife staff are amazing, all through the day there was someone at hand ready to answer any question. Clearly they are all experts on their subjects and the bird handlers were no different.
Another highlight for me was the Monsoon Forest Walk and Walk-Through Aviary…perhaps I was in a particularly birdy kind of mood that day! The path through the Monsoon Forest shows a variety of plans and trees, so tall the strait trunks seemed to go on forever! Enclosures line much of the walkway, giving a chance to view some of the birds that aren’t in the walk-through Aviary. There are also more wallabies to admire, lizards and snakes to try and out-stare. A particularly enjoyable exhibition is a monsoon demonstration, for those of us that chose not to visit in the wet season. The demonstration has sound and light effects and an artificial rain simulator (don’t panic, viewers are under a shelter!) to make it feel as authentic as possible.
The Walk-Through Aviary was just magical. I find there is something special about these places, filled with beautifully coloured birds, flowers and trees, terrapins swimming in a pool, the air filled with bird song and sweet smells of flowers. There is a seating area at the bottom to relax and try spot and identify the different birds.
The last show we went to see was in the entrance lobby with an albino carpet python named Lady Gaga! This was amazing, and after a disappointment earlier in the day when another snake started getting a bit impatient and the handler stopped allowing people to hold it I got my chance now. When the handler offered the chance I pushed the kids aside that were eagerly awaiting their turn. I wasn’t going to get another chance so the kids would just have to wait!
Plan Your Trip to Territory Wildlife Park
Territory Wildlife Park is about a 45 minute drive south along the Stuart Highway from Darwin. The park is well signposted so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting there. You can look at hiring a car or a taxi, which may actually be cheaper if you don’t have your own transport! There are also tour companies offering transport to and from the park.