If you’ve seen one wildlife park then you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong! Tucked away in the heart of Burleigh Heads just 15mins from the Gold Coast airport and 25mins from Surfers Paradise, is David Fleay Wildlife Park—a park unlike any other.
We are all about our Aussie wildlife and a visit to the park will see you transported from South East Queensland to the tropical north of the State as you stroll through the tranquil surrounds.
Cute and quirky critters—tick! Wildlife shows—tick! But what makes Fleay’s different? Here are our top 5 things you didn’t know you could do at Fleay’s.
1. See quirky creatures you won’t see in other zoos or wildlife parks
Wally the platypus | Maxime Coquard © Queensland Government
At Fleay’s we love all our Aussie creatures, great and small, not just the popular kids on the block...
And they don’t get much more obscure than fat-tailed dunnarts! These tiny insect-eating marsupials from the grasslands of north-west Queensland live for only a couple of years. Just like Speedy Gonzales (arriba arriba!) they are super mobile, zipping around a backyard nearly three times the size of the 'Gabba'. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity ends and, unlike Speedy Gonzales who always out runs Sylvester the Cat, our fat-tailed dunnarts are falling prey to feral cats and foxes 'in the wild'. But what they lack in longevity they make up for in personality and Fleay’s is the only wildlife park in the world where you can witness their quirky capers.
From the 'Wild West' to our tranquil streams, another of Fleay’s special creatures is the platypus. Described as a 'hodgepodge' of more familiar animals, with the bill and webbed feet of a duck, the tail of a beaver and the body and fur of an otter, the platypus was once thought to have been a hoax! Elusive in the wild, you can enjoy the antics of these curious creatures at David Fleay Wildlife Park, in the only platypus display on the Gold Coast.
2. Catch awesome wildlife shows by real Park Rangers
If you’ve had a fascination with Park Rangers since the days of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, you’re not alone. (If you don’t get it, google it!) At Fleay’s, we have ‘real’ Park Rangers who not only feed and care for our furry, scaly and feathered residents but can tell you all about their habitats in Queensland’s national parks. They are the real deal—Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Park Rangers who protect our amazing parks and forests.
Behind the scenes, our Park Rangers are as busy as bees, captive breeding various species, like the vulnerable Richmond birdwing butterfly.
So, when you visit you can explore the park on your own, but for the best experience join our dedicated Park Rangers at the daily wildlife shows, talks and encounters. There is no better way to discover Queensland’s wild side.
3. Walk among the wildlife
To many, the '50s were a time of sock hops and drive-ins. This decade saw the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, 3D movies and the widespread adoption of TV. But, while many were ‘jitterbugging’ their way through these years, Dr David Fleay was establishing a fauna reserve in West Burleigh on the Gold Coast. It was a time of new ideas, of freedom and liberation from the past. So, while teens were ‘shake, rattle and rolling’, Dr Fleay was introducing a different kind of animal experience.
A world-renowned naturalist, Dr David Fleay successfully captive bred 42 animals for the first time, including platypus, wedge-tailed eagles and powerful owls. Ahead of his time, Dr Fleay insisted that the park animals should be kept in as natural a habitat as possible—a place where people could walk among the animals and they could be studied in a natural environment.
‘It’s a place where the animals are kept in conditions as close as possible to the natural environment, where they can breed freely and be studied.’ Dr David Fleay
Fast forward 60 years and you won’t see a ‘hand jive’ on the dance floor, but you can still wander the wildlife park and see Aussie critters in their natural habitats.
4. Kids, you can become a ranger for a day
Do your kids love the great outdoors and curious critters—mud, mess and all? Or do you just need to peel them away from trending 21st century tech for a few hours? David Fleay Wildlife Park will have them out and about, loving the fresh air and channelling their 'inner warrior'—wildlife warrior, that is.
Every school holidays, Fleay’s Park Rangers take small groups of kids on a live animal and environmental adventure. A select few can become a Junior Ranger for a day and learn about caring for native animals; go behind the scenes and help feed some of the furry, scaly or feathered residents; or muck about in the muddy mangroves searching for super-cool marine life.
Places are limited so you must pre-purchase your Junior Ranger tickets online.
5. Book a venue your guests will be raving about
Planning an event can be daunting. So, if a trip to the dentist sounds more inviting than trying to find a unique venue, then look no further than Fleay’s. Wedding ceremonies or receptions, corporate extravaganzas, business breakfasts or children’s birthday parties—we can accommodate the big and the small!
DIY in our covered BBQ area and enjoy all the daily activities or settle back at sunset on our new covered deck, with exclusive use of the wildlife park. Park Rangers, native Australian critters and guided spotlight tours will create an event to remember. For the ultimate 'wow factor' that will have your guests raving for decades, you’ll want to include the Twilight Experience. Your guests will be mesmerised as the Yugambeh Aboriginal people take them on a journey of storytelling, song and dance.
Our feathered, fury and scaly residents love a good party, so give the stress, sweaty palms and racing heart the flick and throw your next ‘do’ at our place.
This is one wildlife park you’ve just got to visit, right? Find out more about David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Before you visit, make sure to download the free MyRanger mobile app on iOs or Android to make your experience even better! With lots of information about the park, its wildlife and biodiversity, interactive maps, and virtual guided tours—it’s like having a local Park Ranger in your phone!