Next time you’re visiting Healesville Sanctuary, why not try something out of the ordinary?
We certainly made the most of a recent visit, when we met an Australian icon at a Wombat Pat and Play wild encounter.
When we arrived at the wombat enclosure the star of the show was playing prima donna, unwilling to join her fans. El Guapo made the most of the time by pretending to be a wombat in a cave.
Just as the keepers were preparing us for bad news, Shadow the wombat emerged from hiding.
We sat on small stools in the enclosure and asked the keepers about the animals. Lightning was fascinated to learn that wombats have a cartilage plate in their tough backsides that they can use to protect a burrow’s entrance from predators.
Shadow munched on carrots, pumpkin and corn (her favourite) while we patted and admired her.
If you’re taking small children, remember it is a wild encounter and you need to be ready to move if necessary. Shadow tried to nip Lightning’s dad on the shin – it seems she’s learned that the keepers quickly intervene with food so she sometimes does this on purpose to get what she wants.
I’ve always had a soft spot for wombats over koalas and kangaroos so meeting Shadow was a special treat. Both kids loved the experience, which is one of the wild encounters on offer without a minimum age (as long as children are accompanied by an adult).
We scored a bonus wild encounter outside the reptile house, when Bailey the scrub python almost stole the show for Lightning. And if cheeky sausage roll-thieving ibises count as wild, we met some of them too. You have been warned!
Read on to check out what else there is to see and do at Healesville Sanctuary. If you’re staying overnight then read my guide to Family Friendly Yarra Valley.
Thank you to regular contributor Erika Jonsson for the guest post. Erika is a journalist and mother of two, 5 year old Lightning and 2 year old El Gaucho.
- Arrive at least half an hour before your encounter to allow time to walk down.
- Watch your ankles – if the wombat heads straight for them you might need to move quickly.
- Toddlers are free with a paying adult. All children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Professional photos are available or take your own camera.
Wombat Pat and Play Wild Encounter, Healesville Sanctuary, Badger Creek Rd, Healesville
$20 per person (not including entry to Healesville Sanctuary); 10% discount for zoo members
Morning and afternoon times available
Phone 1300 966 784 for bookings (recommended)