Getting up close to dinosaurs was an unexpected bonus of our recent visit to the Australian Reptile Park. Ickle leapt out of her skin when they roared into the show pit. Her cousin lasted a tad longer. “They’re not real,” she said. “They’re not real.” But she failed to convince herself, and we ended up in a trembling huddle with Mivvy, who had been playing in the dirt, oblivious to the excitement.
Located in Somersby, not so far from the beautiful falls we visited last year, the Reptile Park is one of NSW’s premier tourist attractions. At $95 for a family pass or $35 per adult, it is an expensive day out.* And the site is not that extensive, either. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for with its “hands-on zoo” experience, allowing everyday folk the chance to view crocodiles, turtles, snakes and the like at close quarters, along with some of their well-known furry friends. The park is also home to a snake and spider venom-milking program – worth the entry price several times over, I reckon.
Shows are scheduled throughout the day, where visitors not only see the animals but learn about them too. As well as the Dinosaurs Alive and Reptile show, we hung out with a Galapagos tortoise at feeding time, and then with Elvis the Crocodile. It happened to be the cranky croc’s 50th birthday. He’d already snapped up half a cow that morning, but still had room for two chooks a few hours later.Boy, was it busy when we visited, despite the overcast skies and drizzle. Our trick was to look ahead at the day’s programme and get in early to guarantee top spots. So, two of us spent 30 minutes staring at an uninterested crocodile lazing in a small pool of green water so the littlies could see him strut his stuff during showtime. But it was worth it! Elvis is one of Ickle’s top memories from our visit.
Oh, and one last word before I go: coffee. If you are a aficionado of the barista-made beverage with freshly-ground beans and textured milk at just the right temperature, you have come to the wrong place. The Reptile Park has yet to adopt Australian café culture, it seems, and only serves instant coffee with skim powdered milk.*We saved the cost of one adult entry by using an Entertainment Book voucher.