Did you know Melbourne’s Zoos are free for kids in the school holidays! What a great saving! Especially if you have multiples of the little darlings! I’ve had ‘zoo visit’ on my ‘to do list’ for the kids for a little while now so given the school holidays are currently upon us, we packed up the car and headed north for a trip to Healesville Sanctuary.
It took us approximately 1 hour and 10 mins to get to Healesville from Frankston, an easy drive with lots of brown signs directing the way through the popular Yarra Valley wine region.
The Sanctuary itself is smaller than Melbourne Zoo and home to only Australian animals but it was a refreshing change from the choas that usually surrounds Melbourne on school holidays with a relaxed vibe among the shady trees.
The paths were pram friendly so it was no problem at all pushing Hazel around deciding also take our little stroller for Stella seeming she is going through a “carrrrryyyyy” phase (this ended up being a great idea as we definitely did a lot of walking!)
We saw koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, wombats and tassie devils but the kids favourite animal by far was the platypus as it swam around it’s dark nocturnal enclosure – so weird yet so cute!
Healesville had a bit of an Australia Zoo “Wildlife Warrior” feel about it with it’s fun “Zooper Man” Extinction Fighter photo walls and its little wombat mascot on posters, encouraging people to switch to recycled toilet paper. I quite enjoyed these subliminal environmental messages though as we meandered around the place and the kids enjoyed the interactive educational activities throughout.
There is a great playground for the kids to run off some steam and animal handlers walking about with blue tounge and monitor lizards to pat.
The kids also absolutely loved the animal hospital with its ‘Future Vets’ play space. Set up like a real veterinary clinic, they were able to dress up in scrubs and care for ‘injured wildlife” even scanning them with a pretend x-ray machine before putting them to bed in their little cages complete with food and blankets! So cute.
The “Spirits of the Sky” bird show was also a highlight for the kids (even I remember going to Healesville and watching this when I was Lenny’s age!) There’s souring cockatoos and owls and other Australian native birds but the star of the show is the huge wedge tail eagle as it flies right above your head before cleverly demonstrating how it cracks open an Emu egg.
Food was reasonably priced, we packed only snacks so bought some sandwiches from the Pavilion Cafe for lunch. These were $8 for adult size and $4.50 for a kids cheese and vege/ham pack which I thought was not too bad. Picnics are welcome though so don’t feel as though you have to buy your lunch although there is three cafes to choose from with full hot meals available if that’s what you fancy.
We arrived at the Zoo just after 10am and left just after 3pm once we had finished watching the bird show. There is lots of walking involved and definitely takes a full day to get around stopping for lunch in the middle.
I guess Healesville is a bit of a strange one in the way of animals because you leave feeling as though you didn’t really see many, maybe because the animals there are small in comparison to Melbourne Zoo with it’s huge elephants, giraffes and gorillas, but it was an enjoyable day which absolutely wore my kids out, both snoring all the way home!
Mama’s Hot Tip – Skip the 12.00pm “Spirits of the Sky” arena show and attend the 2.30pm show instead. The lunch time show is the best time to buy/eat your lunch because the queue for food straight after the show was enormous! Eating while the majority of visitors were attending the show allowed us to purchase quickly and secure a great picnic table. The arena is situated on the way back to the car park so this worked out well for us as we had finished the rest of the zoo by the time the show came around, allowing us to leave straight after.
Mama loved –
Mama didn’t like –
Badger Creek Rd, Healesville
Open 9am – 5pm every day of the year