Dermott Brereton visited Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Queensland's Gold Coast to experience a rare chance to get close to some of Australia's amazing native wildlife. The sanctuary has hundreds of animals in natural bushland and rainforest settings, interactive displays, presentations and dining experiences.
The sanctuary has been running for about 63 years, set in 27 hectares of lush eucalypt and rainforest, and every day is a new adventure. Koalas, crocodiles, mobs of kangaroos, reptiles, birds and marsupials are there to entertain and interest you all day long and into the night.
An iconic image of Currumbin is lorikeet-feeding time. They arrive in a colourful rush and land on whatever or whomever they can to hoe into the food on offer.
The latest attraction, the Green Challenge, has been designed to reflect the volcanic history of the area. The high-ropes adventure course presents 65 nature-based challenges, including giant flying foxes and a Tarzan swing. It allows visitors to venture higher and further into the beautiful natural setting.
It reminded Dermott of his football days when every pre-season they went to an army training course and usually ended up in the water. However, the Currumbin experience is all about fun and there are no coaches yelling at you.
The course has 14 stages, each becoming more difficult. They are geared towards 68 different levels. Won't that be a test? The course goes through natural bushland in the trees with the birds. It's all cable ladders and rope bridges with a flying fox as the last leg. Flying over a pond, which is home to a 36-year-old 5.5m crocodile, tends to make you hang on a little tighter.
Generations of mammals, birds and reptiles have made their home in the sanctuary and, as is the way with nature, there are always injuries and illnesses. Dermott spent time in the animal hospital which opened 40 years ago. It's one of Australia's largest wildlife hospitals and is the only major facility providing for the needs of the large Gold Coast region.
It costs $500,000 a year to operate and there tends to be up to 30 animals patients every day. Demand is outgrowing the hospital's facilities and there are many ways you can give assistance to fulfil the growing needs. The dedicated veterinarians rely greatly on invaluable volunteers. Check the hospital's website to see what you can do.