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HOT: Healesville Sanctuary, Healesville

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

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.

healesville sanctuary

I really like the serene bushland setting and in terms of attractions we particularly enjoy…

healesville sanctuary

Lunar’s Secret Forest, an indoor space where you can pretend to use a torch to spot endangered leadbeater possums…

kangaroo country healesville sanctuary

Kangaroo Country, a new exhibit as part of the Iconic Australia precinct showcasing iconic Australian animals…

healesville sanctuary

healesville sanctuary


Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Healesville Sanctuary, Healesville


healesville sanctuary

…the many carved wooden sculptures dotted around the grounds with references to Indigenous culture…

healesville sanctuary

…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.

healesville sanctuary

healesville sanctuary

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.

healesville sanctuary

healesville sanctuary

healesville sanctuary

…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.

Healesville Sanctuary

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.

nature play healesville sanctuary

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.

healesville sanctuary

healesville sanctuary

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

Click here for more places to go with babies and toddlers in Melbourne.

Click here for more tips on places to go with kids in the Yarra Valley

HOT Tips:

  • 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+.

This post contains affiliate links. If you book using the links there is no extra cost to you and I earn a small commission that helps me to provide free, valuable and useful information for you! Thanks Joyce

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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. just wanted to say that I was so dissappointed with the Healesville Sanctuary trip last week. I have not been to it for years and the way I have experienced it last Saturday was quite upsetting. I had international guests visiting Melbourne for Global Forum on VAT and they were leaving on that Saturday night so we only had Saturady morning and avo to fit the sightseeing in. We paid $148 for 4 adults and ended up seeing just a handful of local animals, no tasmanian devil, no dingo, just a handful of wallabies lying at a distance and 3-4 koalas. The rest we had to look at the images next to the designated areas. There used to be a lot more animals and kangaroos jumping around and asking to be fed… To get to see a koala closer you were supposed to pre-book the tour and pay extra. These business men are flying in and out of the country and obviously they do not have the luxury to pre-book. If you are charging that much money and people are making an effort of travelling 70 odd km from the city to Healesville to see something Australia unique there should be a bit more to it. The sancturary looked more like a nice park with great playground facilities for kids. Seriously?! I hope this feedback will be taken into consideration in view of improving Australia’s international image and reputation. Thank you

    1. Hi Oksana

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your experience at Healesville Sanctuary as it’s one of my favourite places to take international visitors and my favourite zoo out of the three Zoos Victoria properties. I’ve passed on your feedback to Healesville Sanctuary. Cheers Joyce

    2. Hi Oksana,

      Thanks for your feedback and also for taking the time to write a review on Trip Advisor. We’ve just responded to you on there but we can appreciate your disappointment, especially while visiting with overseas tourists. The changes we’ve made over the past few years to prioritise animal welfare and breeding programs for endangered animals above all else means that sometimes it makes it is tricky to see the animals up close (which is why we have our close-up encounters). If you come back again, we highly recommend following the keeper talk times that are listed on the map as they will often involve animal experiences.
      Thanks again for your feedback,
      Zoos Victoria

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