Australian Reptiles up close!

Our visit to Somersby’s Australian Reptile Park

by Sharon Risdale

The Central Coast provided us with the perfect Spring day to visit the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby. The ample parking area gave us easy level access the the impressive park entrance, which was adorned with a huge replica of Australia’s famous Frilled Neck Lizard.

Once inside, we were greeted by friendly, smiling, staff happy to provide maps with points of interest in the park, and a timetable of events scheduled for the day. Our first event was a fascinating talk by Ranger Mick, who introduced us to Hugo, the giant Galapagos tortoise. Hugo, a gentle lumbering giant, was happy to show off his prickly pear eating skills as his keeper explained Hugo’s history.

As we explored the vast picnic and BBQ (undercover and outdoor) areas where families were celebrating birthdays and other happy occasions, we saw Keeper K-ell surrounded by children. He had a delightful Childrens Python in his hands, and was happy to explain the great attributes of this shiny, healthy little snake. The next, quite unexpected event, was seeing Keeper Dylan, taking Kraken, the Komodo Dragon, for a walk through the grounds. Safely in a harness, Kraken was relaxed and happy exploring his surroundings with his flicking tongue, and receiving pats from Keeper Dylan and Ranger Mick, for behaving so well on his outing.

Our next adventure was the Reptile talk given by Ranger Mick. With skill and dexterity born from years of handling such dangerous animals, Ranger Mick explained the importance of the parks anti-venom program. He introduced us to venomous snakes, the deadly Funnel-web spider, a friendly (by comparison) alligator, a python, and an Iguana. So much knowledge imparted in a great atmosphere to fascinated visitors.

It was at this session, for a nominal fee, that we had our photos taken, with a baby alligator and the sweetest Tasmanian Devil joey. Visitors could also chose a koala or a python. The park is involved in many conservation programs, and their work with the Tassie Devil is world renowned. They also have special breeding programs for endangered turtles and frogs and are contributing to the conservation of many species because of this invaluable work.

We explored the well sign-posted grounds, visited the giant Cassowary, the Dingoes, the Tree Kangaroo, the Alligators and the special conservation areas. The finale of our visit was the crocodile feed, with Elvis who is advertised as the crankiest crocodile in the world, and he did not disappoint his rapt audience. While several rangers were present during this event, it was the debut for Keeper Dylan, to offer Elvis his entrée. Elvis obliged with a jaw snap that ricocheted around the park like a gun shot. We were all in awe.

So much to absorb in one day. We defintely plan to return, and bring a picnic to enjoy near the childrens play area (which is guarded by huge replica dinosaurs) , and spend more time enjoying this wonderful facility at Pacific Highway, Somersby.

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