Healesville Sanctuary is one of three zoos that Zoos Victoria manages and it’s focused especially on Australian wildlife. As such, it’s a great place to take international visitors as well as being a unique place for kids to learn about their native environment.
Healesville Sanctuary is the smallest of the three zoos and so you will likely be able to see everything very quickly in about 2.5-3 hours if you don't stop for any presentations or shows. However, I recommend allocating more time as there are several awesome play spaces plus we miss some of the animals.
I really like the serene bushland setting and in terms of attractions we particularly enjoy…
Lunar’s Secret Forest, an indoor space where you can pretend to use a torch to spot endangered leadbeater possums…
…Kangaroo Country, a new exhibit as part of the Iconic Australia precinct showcasing iconic Australian animals…
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…the many carved wooden sculptures dotted around the grounds with references to Indigenous culture…
…the Australian Wildlife Health Centre. A working lab and hospital with cabinets and glass windows explaining the workings of the vets inside. There are also daily presentations.
Inside the Australian Wildlife Health Centre is an indoor play area ‘Future Vets’ where kids can role-play being a vet. It’s cute but pretty small compared to Ranger Kids at Werribee Zoo and Keeper Kids at Melbourne Zoo.
…The outdoor nature play area has a large covered sandpit, two slides, cubby, tunnel and musical elements. For older kids there’s a rope climb plus a picnic area.
A nature play space is next to the Pavilion Cafe and Reptile House. It features water play, sand play, an enchanted forest and two cubbies.
By coincidence, the CFA is holding a presentation at the zoo on our visit. Forget the animals, the real and toy firetrucks are probably the highlight for vehicle-mad Baby 2.0! He cries ‘I want to drive the truck’ when we leave.
Wallaby Wednesdays are on 11am-11.30am at Australia Wildlife Health Centre Lawn. Dress-up as wallabies and join in on pouch races and hopping games. You might also get the chance to see the special guest appearances by our feathered, scaly, and furry friends!
Click here for more things to do in Melbourne's zoos with under 5s
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- kids under 16 visit free on weekends, Victorian government public and school holidays;
- plan at least 2-3 hours for a visit;
- The Spirits of the Sky show is a must-see which we miss;
- free parking on site;
- most of the attractions are outdoors so I don't recommend going in wet weather;
- It’s easy to get around with a pram though it’s safe to let kids roam around on their own;
- it’s a gold coin donation to buy bird seed to feed the parrots inside the aviary. Other close-up experiences are $15+.
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