The ACT abounds with fabulous day trips but for something different, what about an animal adventure right in the city? Canberra isn’t known as the bush capital for nothing, and whether you prefer your animals running wild and free or in a more formal environment, it’s easy to spend a day discovering the local residents in our zoos and nature parks. Here are some of our favourites to discover and enjoy.
Top spots to make friends with the region’s animals
The National Zoo and Aquarium packs an animal punch. It’s close to the centre of Canberra, with the full range of Australian animals as well as many species from around the world. You can get up close with a selection of the residents and have a go at hand-feeding some of them on the range of tours and animal encounters available.
Canberra Reptile Zoo is at Gold Creek Village just off the Barton Highway, and it’s where you can discover around 50 different species of reptiles and frogs. There are goannas, snakes and lizards galore. It’s small enough to have a hands-on approach, and there are plenty of opportunities to touch a python, examine a bearded dragon or have a chat with the keepers.
Canberra Walk In Aviary is just near the reptile zoo, and it’s a wonderland of feathered creatures from Australia and around the world. Expect to see around 500 birds representing over 60 different species including parrots, finches, doves and quail from Australia and around the world. Included in the admission price is a plate of food and a tub of worms to feed the birds. Some of the birds are quite tame and will take the food from you and interact with you.
The National Dinosaur Museum is also nearby, and while it’s been quite a while since the days of the dinosaurs, the displays of robotic dinosaurs, life-like models and skeletons bring the giants to life. And it’s not just about dinosaurs – you’ll find information about the history of life on Earth, with fossils from 700 million-year-old marine fauna through to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals on show.
Tatum Hills Farm in Bywong offers the chance to meet and interact with farm animals while learning about them. It’s not a farmyard nursery but describes itself as a pet farm that shows visitors how to engage with animals, learn about them and understand their behaviour. You’re guaranteed to learn lots of fun facts while you feed the llamas, pat the goats, collect fresh eggs or cuddle a guinea pig.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve sits in gorgeous natural surroundings perfect for exploring and spotting animals including koalas, possums, reptiles, kangaroos, waterbirds, emus and wallaroos. Tidbinbilla runs a range of educational programs and events so keep an eye on their What’s Happening page – their events are a top way to learn more about the Australian native animals and their habitats.
When to go
Any time is a good time to spot animals in and around Canberra.
These activities are recommended for people with children, anyone hosting overseas visitors keen for a look at some of the local fauna, those who enjoy walking and getting out into the great outdoors, and all those who love animals.
Is there a spot in or around Canberra that you like to visit to get up close to the local animals? Let us know in the comments.