After my 2-and-a-half-hour zoom north from Sydney, I finally arrived at a teeny town called Salt Ash. It was a smooth drive with my 4-door sedan on cruise control and a well-behaved GPS, I might add. I had some trouble with it in Sydney, but it provided the correct directions to my first destination: Oakvale Farm.
Sure, I’ve been to many other farms like the Knotts Berry Farm in the U.S., but this one is actually quite interesting and full of surprises.
What you need to know about Oakvale Farm
Oakvale Farm also officially known as Oakvale Wildlife Park, is a unique open-plan zoo and farm, where visitors can interact with a variety of animals. While some are housed in traditional cages, many of the animals roam free within designated areas of the 10 hectares property. One notable exception is the cassowary, a notoriously violent bird that is safely contained for visitors’ protection.
As a popular tourist attraction, Oakvale Farm offers a range of activities that appeal to animal lovers of all ages. Visitors can bottle-feed baby lambs, goats, and piglets, or even cuddle with adorable koalas.
The park opens from Monday to Sunday between 10am to 5pm. You can book a general admission ticket for single visitors or family. There’s also an annual membership for single persons and families as well.
Aside from that, some attractions, like the animal encounters and events booking also cost tickets. Book here to get $25 off of your Oakvale Wildlife Park visit.
My amazing wildlife encounters at Oakvale
Meeting the baby animals
At Oakvale Farm, one of the most exciting activities is the daily feeding of the adorable baby animals. I was lucky enough to make it just in time for the 2pm bottle feeding session, which is also available at 11am. The younglings are fed by kids, and it’s a heart-warming sight to see how much they enjoy the experience.
During the feeding, visitors have the opportunity to interact with the animals by petting and cuddling them. Additionally, there are special animal feed bags available for purchase that allow for an even more immersive experience. It’s delightful to watch kids of all ages light up with joy as they engage with these lovable farm animals.
It’s hard not to smile as you witness the pure innocence of the younglings during feeding time. Lambs, kids (that is, young goats), and piglets all eagerly slurp down their milk from bottles. With kids feeding these kids, it’s truly adorable to see how babies love babies. While I opted to keep my hands clean and at a distance, it was still a wonderful experience.
Getting Up Close and Personal with Koalas and Kangaroos
If you’re a fan of cute and cuddly animals, be sure to visit the koala enclosure at Oakvale Farm. This is actually my favourite part, as I had the chance to pat the sleepy marsupials.“You’re just like a stuffed toy,” I thought as I pushed my camera into this one’s face. These furry creatures do make for great photo opportunities.
Oakvale is part of a working farm, but 8.5 hectares are home to kangaroos with joeys sticking out of their pouches. The oddest sight I’ve ever seen – just legs sticking out. How is it breathing? It had been jumping around until it saw me, then dived in to hide.
The farm attendants told me that it usually does that when they sense danger. I think the one-year-old, 5 kg joey was just overwhelmed. I was bringing a handful of food, and only the tolerant mum ate the pellets from my hands.
Other residents of Oakvale Wildlife Park
Aside from koalas and kangaroos, Oakvale Farm is also home to a variety of other animals.
There are dingoes (in cages), water buffalo, camels, alpacas, emus, dingos, ostriches, and Shetland for everyone to see. I was also surprised to see a stallion so small that I wanted to laugh. But that would have given him a complex. And then there’s Clyde the draught horse who wander in their paddocks.
Parrots, cockatoos, geese and other squawkers made it clear they wanted me to drop grain. Some even said ‘hello’. However, I didn’t feed the cassowary. These birds will have you dinner if you get too close!
The Reptile Ravine
If you’re feeling brave, head over to the recently opened Reptile Ravine. Here, you’ll find 16 exhibits of creepy, slithery crawlies. Some of Australia’s deadliest snakes are wrapped around gum tree branches (in their own glass cages).
You will also find turtles and fresh water crocs swimming in their personalized swamps, as well as lizards eating greens.
Other activities and facilities at Oakvale Farm
Aside from the animal encounters, guests can also indulge in other interesting activities. You can hop on board the free Tractor-Trailer Ride around the park that pass along the variety of animals. You also get to listen to some commentaries about them, too.
There are playgrounds where kids can enjoy and a water park if they like to indulge in an innovative water activity such as wildlife water features, water cannons, spray tunnels, and the super soaker bucket.
Did I mention that you can bring your own packed lunch in the farm? Here, you’ll find beautiful picnic areas, tables, and undercover BBQ facilities which are absolutely FREE to use. This is a great way to spend the afternoon with your school groups and families.
Definitely worth dropping in to on your way to Port Stephens.
For more info on getting around New South Wales and what to see, check out Australia’s Tourism website.