We are faced with 8 hours in the car to get to our choice of holiday destination. We find the long drive equates to really getting away to a place we can’t visit for a weekend and therefore makes it truly special year on year. Travelling for 8 hours does however mean you need to stop often with small kids and several times with older ones. We try to have several ideas up our sleeve as to where we will stop but the smaller the children are the less predictable this can be. Why do they always need to wee AFTER you stopped for petrol or water? Billabong Zoo is the answer to your sanity.
A great spot is one near the highway. What seems like a good idea to stop here and there… Is not if its 20 minutes off the highway – 40 minutes before you’ve even eaten and stretched makes the travel loooong. There is of course the option to split the trip and stay overnight somewhere but I’m used to driving distances so my preference is to get there. Billabong Zoo is ideally situated right near an exit and entry ramp and allows you to get in and back on the road with very little fuss.
It’s unfathomable for Europeans and people from other parts of the world to travel for 8 hours and not even leave the state! Ahhh, it’s all part of being an Aussie, it’s a big country! Billabong Zoo is situated at the 5 hour mark from Sydney that gives you a good chunk of the driving behind you and a good chunk ahead of you dependent upon where you are going.
As the children sit in the back seat and the noise level rises, I tick over the kilometres…. That stop is getting desperate. My nerves are becoming frazzled and I need a break from all the bantering and heckling.
Billabong Zoo – koala and wildlife park is set next to the highway, about a 5 minute drive from the exit at Port Macquarie. What started as a koala breeding centre before it changed hands in 2005 and has become a wildlife park to other animals. It is a good distance down the road from Sydney and I find that means I can relax about pushing on.
You can’t get closer to koalas than you can here. For $60 you can hold one. (*I am not sure you can as NSW law dictates you cannot hold a koala, but this is what it says on the website.) This is a highway stop over and that extra coast of nearly $80 entry fee for a family may not seem necessary, but I totally recommend it. Give yourself an hour stretch the legs and roam around. The kids will be contained so they can run and release some energy.
The animals are always clean and healthy and the nearby population of what was once a densely populated koala area seems to be repopulated with many babies in the park. I’m lead to believe they release these in the area.
These sleeping balls are very sweet. I am yet to stop here and not see movement – plenty of times when I visit other parks or zoos, the koalas sleep the whole time. At Billabong they seem to move trees or stretch their legs regularly. When you’re used to seeing sleeping koalas it’s lovely to see how much speed these little guys have when moving from tree to tree. Like most other tree dwellers, being on the ground is not safe but the biggest issue facing koalas is the loss of their habitat and food sources.
Spend the $ to buy kangaroo food – it’s great for kids energy before getting back into the car to wander amongst the kangaroos and let them nibble out of your hand. In the wild one of these guys won’t come near you so it’s special to be so close to tame ones. The park has some albino wallabies which are unique if not unlike looking at what seems from a distance a rabbit with a longer tail.
The new direction of the park with additional animals is obviously a financial decision to make them competitive to other attractions. I couldn’t help but question the purchase of a breeding pair of snow leopards was truely a conservation attempt or a money making venture. You wouldn’t get that close to a snow leopard in the wild, so perhaps it is of value in educating people. They have had huge success with Tasmanian devil breeding outside of Tasmania and away from disease, so perhaps this is a similar situation I am not highly educated on the vulnerability of the snow leopard.
Would I go again? Yes and despite my uneasiness of this new direction of the park and my questioning of whether the animals are actually happy, they are breeding, they must be relatively happy right?