In honor of near one year anniversary to Australia, I’m reviewing one of our favorite stops. During our stay in Sydney, we rented a car and headed to Featherdale Wildlife Park for the day. Featherdale Wildlife Park is a short, well-labeled 45-minute drive from the Sydney Central Business District (CBD).
While in Sydney, we stayed at the Four Points Darling Harbour in Sydney’s Central Business District. Finding a rental car in Sydney CBD was very easy. We rented from East Coast car rentals, which was just on the other side of Hyde Park, less than a 15-minute walk from the Four Points. Navigating the city on foot is easy and Hyde Park is well labeled, so we had no trouble finding the rental car location.
The drive from Sydney CBD to Featherdale was also very well labeled. Large, brown signs that were strategically placed along the freeway provided easy navigation to the Featherdale sanctuary. Large, brown signs like these ones label most attractions in Australia. Featherdale was highly recommended by locals as one of the top animal sanctuaries to visit. The locals were right, as Featherdale was amazing!!
Featherdale was in the middle of a typical suburban neighborhood, just a few kilometers off the main highway. It seemed like an elementary school should be located there and not an animal sanctuary. Houses literally backed up to the park and some could see straight into some of the exhibits. I’m not sure I would want to have a view of the wild animals behind my house, but I bet it makes for some interesting viewing.
Featherdale’s parking lot was small, holding only about 50 cars, so we had to park on the street, just a few blocks from the sanctuary. It was an easy walk and we didn’t have any reservations about leaving our car on the road. Parking was free in both the lot and on the street.
Featherdale Wildlife Park Experience
Admission to Featherdale cost $31 Australian and covered all interactions with the animals. The entrance to Featherdale was lined with pictures of local and international celebrities interacting with the Featherdale animals. Upon entry, we were provided a map of the grounds to make sure we could see only the cute animals and avoid any animals that didn’t have legs. Featherdale also had numerous shelving units placed around the sanctuary that looked like old refrigerators. These units held ice cream cones filled with animal feed and for a $2 Australian dollar fee, guests could buy one and feed it to the animals. We bought several to feed as many animals as possible.
The animal exhibits started as soon as we entered Featherdale. There were birdcages that housed cockatoos and parrots, all clamoring to say hello to the newest Featherdale guests. Some of the animals at the sanctuary were caged, while many others like the wallaby and kangaroos wandered free.
What kinds of animals live there?
At the foot of the birdcages at Featherdale’s entrance, we saw our first loose animal, the lovable wallaby. This was a small wallaby with droopy eyes and a big, saggy belly. He looked like an old man lingering over the Thanksgiving table. Staring at us with his lazy eyes, he let us pet him while he barely moved a muscle. This guy was certainly not hungry for an ice cream cone.
Next, we saw a wombat, which was very fat and even lazier than the adorable little wallaby, but equally as cute. Wombats look like mid-sized hairy pigs and act like dogs in a garden. The wombat dug himself a bed in some moist, brown dirt and immediately collapsed and closed his eyes to take a nap. However, though this wombat appeared meek and lazy, wombats apparently bite because there were signs all over stating “we bite.” Mike reached in a pet a sleepy wombat and did not get bit, so maybe they only bite when they are fully awake.
Next up were the koalas that were lounging about in several sets of eucalyptus trees. The koalas had a large amount of sanctuary workers around them to answer any questions. We learned that koalas sleep 18-20 hours per day and don’t drink water because they get all they need from eucalyptus and gum trees. There were about 20 koalas all sleeping in their trees and the sanctuary workers rotated koalas out for pictures. The koalas don’t really wake up for the pictures, but just let the sanctuary workers carry them from one sleeping tree to another.
After the koalas, we saw more wallabies, which were not hungry for ice cream cones, followed by birds who were very hungry for ice cream cones and who shrieked and hopped on cages for the cones. One of the most unique birds that wanted the cone was the cassowary, an endangered Australia bird, which looked like a colorful ostrich. This cassowary was very inquisitive and friendly and easily leaned over his cage to get ice cream cone treats. He would have eaten all of the ice cream cones if we let him.
Cassowaries and Tassie Devils oh my!
The cassowary was housed near one of my new favorite animals, the Tasmanian devil. The Tasmanian devil looked nothing like the Looney Tunes character. Instead, he resembled a mix of a badger and a shorthaired skunk. The Tasmanian devil was full of energy and ran around his enclosure in circles and the whole time he wore a giant, mischievous grin on his face. We tried to feed him but he was too busy running in circles to stop and eat.
Not far from the Tasmanian devil, there was an enclosure that was home to two dingoes. The dingoes looked like big, red German Shepard-esque dogs. They ran up to the fences and wagged their tails just like domesticated dogs, but the sign also said that they also bit, so we did not pet them despite their ridiculous amounts of adorableness. Fun fact: dingoes cannot bark.
Although the animals were all very cute, I longed for my long-awaited kangaroo feeding experience. This was a moment I had planned since I was a little girl. I always wanted to have a kangaroo sit on my lap and feed him his favorite snack.
Feeding my Kangaroo Friends….Finally!!
Finally, we found the hungry kangaroos and it turned out their snack of choice was the ice cream cone filled with feed. The kangaroos roamed freely in a large area at the back of the sanctuary. Their area had logs and trees and a small river so it was pretty comfy for the kangaroos. Along with kangaroos, there were several wallabies that lived in the back of the sanctuary and the wallabies and kangaroos all lived in harmony. For those curious on the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, kangaroos are much bigger than wallabies, can jump much further, and also have much softer fur.
Was it worth it?
YES!!! The kangaroo feeding experience did not disappoint. There was instant attention from the wallabies when I sat on the ground with my ice cream cone. The wallabies were more curious than the kangaroos and approached me rapidly, drooling for a piece of that cone. They hopped on my lap and wrapped their tiny, little furry claws around my fingers to hold onto for balance as they nibbled the ice cream cone. Once the kangaroos saw how much the wallabies loved the free food, they joined in as well and hopped over to grab a snack. All of the animals let my husband and I pet them while they ate. The kangaroos were so soft, like petting a freshly brushed and conditioned llama. The wallabies and kangaroos loved, loved, loved the ice cream cones.
My husband was eager to join in on the experience too and we both fed them many ice cream cones. My ultimate favorite moment was at the end of our time at Featherdale. I sat on the ground one last time to feed the kangaroos and wallabies my last cone. The animals had come to trust me at this point and almost immediately I had 2 big kangaroos and 4 wallabies surround me and touch my hands and hop on my lap for the cones. It was amazing. A big kangaroo even gently slapped a wallaby for my cone. I could have stayed all day, but sadly Featherdale was not open 24 hours. It was only open 9am-5pm.
Oh to go back again….
Featherdale will fulfill anyone’s wish for that iconic Australian animal experience. It has reptiles too for people who like that too (I do not!). For those looking to see only the fluffy and feathered animals (like myself), it’s a great experience. Go, make friends with the animals, and imagine what it would be like to bring one home. I often think my dogs would love a kangaroo or dingo friend, but I am happy to show them their Featherdale friends in pictures instead!