After the Billabong Sanctuary we were all fairly up for visiting the much bigger Steve Irwin Zoo – or to give it its official name the Australia Zoo – but no matter which way you paint it we all left pretty disappointed.
For a start the place costs a small fortune to visit and is more of a theme park with animals instead of rides. I guess that could be considered in line with the Steve Irwin approach – taking the daft entertainment angle to help stimulate children’s interest in wildlife. Unfortunately I never really got into Mr Irwin and his zoo didn’t do much for me either.
It’s massive and spread out but while we were there you could only get to the Africa section via an alarmingly infrequent road train. Most of the animals have good huge areas to reside in but the scale of the place in general detracts from the experience. There are events throughout the day that smack of circus shows rather than an opportunity to get up close and learn more. Perhaps that’s a little harsh as they do impart knowledge while they’re buggering about on their glitzy headsets with their oh-so-in-theme performances but while that might light a spark in a kids mind and send them hurtling toward a gift shop for a Bindi doll it just annoys me.
We made the best of a frustrating day attempting to cover as much ground as possible and snapping photos in the hope that we captured something interesting. And let’s not forget – no day can be too terrible when you get to sit down and hangout with a ‘roo.
For all the diverse range of animals on show and the doubtless significant work done behind the scenes with the huge sums of money they must be raking in the Australia Zoo is the McDonalds Happy Meal of Zoo’s. It’s for kids and you get nowhere near the same bang for buck as you would elsewhere.