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Territory Wildlife Park

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Territory Wildlife Park is around 45 minutes south of Darwin and well worth the easy drive. The 400 hectares of natural woodland are divided into three parts — wetland, monsoon and woodland.

Wetland includes creeks, springs and lagoons. In the wet season, monsoonal rains flood rivers and creeks, causing them to swell dramatically and spill into lowland areas and floodplains. After the storms, water may linger well into the dry season and can remain for the duration. Natural depressions along rivers and floodplains provide an abundance of everything animals and plants need and they can be seen at Goose Lagoon, the Sand Bar, Aquarium and Billabong.

Monsoon Vine Forests rely heavily on the monsoonal rain each wet season. They are characterised by tall trees, palms and vine thickets, similar to equatorial rainforests, except that they must exist for six months without rain.

Many animals rely heavily on fruiting trees, dense canopy and water for food and shelter. With the exception of gregarious fruit bats, most are extremely secretive. As you walk through the forest you are in one of the largest domed aviaries in the southern hemisphere.

Plants, as well as animals, are totally dependent on it for survival. Vine forests are found where permanent water is — upwelling spring-fed soaks, deep rocky gullies and coastal foreshores where the water table provides excellent conditions.

It is all supported by natural springs which flow into Berry Creek, an area significant to local Aboriginal people. It's said if you stand still, look, listen and smell, you will feel the forest come to life around you.

Woodland is the Territory's most abundant habitat, dominated by eucalypts and often grassy understorey. It relies heavily on adaptations to save water — woodland vegetation can be waxy and fine, long and thin and even spiky. Some trees don't have leaves and acacia species have modified stems functioning as leaves.

Fire is common during the dry and many plants and animals adapt to and actually need fire to survive. Each year after fire has burned through an area, luxuriant new fernlike fronds appear on cycads.

Many animals have become nocturnal. They can be seen in the Nocturnal House and along the Woodland walk. Night tours with spotlights also allow you to see them.

At 9am it's feeding time at the Billabong and at 10am there is a Birds Of Prey presentation. At 11.30 you can enjoy Up Close and Personal Animal Encounters and at 3pm there is another Birds of Prey presentation.

The park is accessible for just about everyone. There is an extensive signposted system of walking tracks and a free shuttle train running continuously around the loop road. A full loop takes around 20 minutes and can accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, both of which can be hired.

The park offers passes so you can go to Berry Springs for a swim and barbecue and re-enter for the afternoon.

Location

The Top End of Australia.

Cost

Territory Wildlife Park entry is $20 for adults and $10 for children. It is open every day between 8.30am and 6pm. It is advisable to pre-book wheelchairs and strollers.

Territory Wildlife Park

Cox Peninsula Road
Berry Springs 0837
Ph: (08) 8988 7200
Fax: (08) 8988 7201
Website: www.territorywildlifepark.com.au
Website: www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/berrysprings
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