One of the biggest reasons I came to Australia was to experience its unique wildlife parks and see some of the native animals here. Whenever I go to a new country, I try to do some volunteer work with animals or donate to a sanctuary because I truly care about their well-being. Unfortunately Japan’s zoos are quite cramped, and I do not have as many options to volunteer for animal programs here as I do in other countries. That is why I was delighted to discover Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide, because it is one of the the two places in Australia where you can hold a Koala (the other being in Sydney).
What I liked the most about Cleland Wildlife Park was that it isn’t a zoo; it’s an animal sanctuary. That means the animals are preserved in a natural enclosure, but are free to roam over acres of land. Visitors are free to approach them with animal pellets purchased for $3 at the park and interact with them. I had heard rumors that kangaroos in the wild can be quite territorial, but was surprised to learn that the ones here are extremely friendly! They act a lot like huge hopping dogs when you approach them with food and are very soft to pet.
In addition to kangaroos, I also learned about wallabies, which belong to the kangaroo family, but are smaller and more timid. You can also spot them by the slightly darker color of the fur. I tried to approach a few, but they were adorably shy.
The Koala encounters are the most popular exhibit here. Since we came to the park on a Monday, we fortunately had no problem being able to see one. Meet Brownie the koala introduced in the video below:
I was happy to see that the koalas seemed to be well taken care of, and the zookeeper was very enthusiastic about her job. She placed Brownie in a tree and fed her so we could pet and hold her briefly. It was an extremely pleasant encounter, and I was so happy that I made the trip here!
After snapping many photos, we decided to walk around the bird sanctuary. On the way there we saw Dingos, which are like wild Shiba Inu dogs in Australia. We also saw a wombat that was lazily sleeping (I wished we could trade lives for a day), and a number of cockatoos roaming around. I was surprised to see how large the park truly was. It was extremely easy to spend at least 2-3 hours roaming around, because the experience is truly relaxing.
To get to Cleland Wildlife Park from central Adelaide, you will need to take 2-3 trams to get to Mt. Lofty, then you can easily enter the park and see a beautiful view of the city. You can also use Uber to get there easily, but be wary of the park’s closure time. We actually got locked in the park while riding our Uber because it was just past 5pm and the gate had closed, so we had to call a park ranger to let us out!
The entrance fee is $30 for one adult, which I think is well-worth the price. For information regarding the Koala encounters, please see the official website.
Not far from Cleland Wildlife Park is a German Village called Hahndorf, so I recommend going there if you have time after. We stopped by for drinks with a friend, but there are also a number of things you can experience during the day such as strawberry picking and goat-petting. The possibilities are truly endless in the wilderness of Australia.