Located near the adorably named Cudlee Creek in South Australia, Gorge Wildlife Park is only a 40 minute drive from the peaceful city of Adelaide. We came across this park on our quest to find an establishment that would allow koala holding, something that is hard to come by in other states of Australia due to various state laws. Parks that do offer the intimate koala cuddling tend to charge copious amounts, as it’s obviously hugely popular with tourists.
However, this little gem of a place offered the experience included in the admission fee of $17 for adults, $14 for concession or students, and $10 for children ages 3 – 15 years. You need to pass a certain height to hold the koala, so be aware this may limit some children partaking. Though koala sessions are held three times a day, if the weather exceeds 34 degrees the sessions are also cut down to the 11:30am one only. This is understandable, given that the animals will be less active and possibly uncomfortable in the heat, and this is one of the few parks in the area that won’t cancel their holding sessions altogether if it gets too hot.
We were delighted to catch the 11:30 session on the day that we went, and after waiting a short while in one of the two queues for holding (two to three koalas are brought out to cope with demand) we had our session with little Kiah. Riley and I went into the covered koala holding shelter and were each allowed to hold the two year old (who was still in the learning process of being a major attraction). There was ample time to pose for photos and just enjoy the moment, with the keeper close at hand to provide a leafy distraction and answer any questions we had. One thing that surprised me was how light Kiah was, weighing in at around 3kg. Fully grown koalas however, can weigh up to 15kg!
Asides from the relaxed, koala holding experience, the park is quite free range. You can purchase a small bag of feed at reception and enjoy hand feeding the roos and wallabies that roam the grounds, get up close with the parrots, deer, and friendly quokkas. The camels were also very happy to reach over the fence to gently lip feed from your hand.
The park holds regular informative presentations on their reptiles, too, and have a free range flock of rainbow lorikeets amidst many walk-through enclosures. It’s not recommended that you stick your fingers through the bars of the monkey enclosures, however being able to get that close to the fencing makes for some great snaps through the mesh.
The place has all you could need to spend an enjoyable few hours there exploring. Amongst the Australian wildlife you can find animals from across the world, and preferring this kind of relaxed, low-key atmosphere when we visit wildlife parks, Riley and I would highly recommend this park. There were picnic benches around, clean toilets, and a souvenir shop too to top everything off. There really wasn’t more we could have asked for for a wonderful morning out and a lovely first experience cuddling one of Australia’s most iconic animals.