Milk a cow, bottle-feed baby animals, ride a tractor-trailer and pat a koala. There’s so much fun for families at Oakvale Wildlife Park in Port Stephens. It’s full of creatures including native Australian animals (koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils), farm animals and exotic animals such as ring-tailed lemurs.

Located at Salt Ash, Oakvale Wildlife Park (formerly Oakvale Farm and Fauna World) is an enjoyable 40-minute drive from Newcastle CBD and is a fun day out for both kids and adults. On our drive to Oakvale Wildlife Park, the kids played spotto and managed to spot cows, horses and even kangaroos, which built anticipation and excitement for our visit.

There is a large car park and we had no trouble finding a parking space close to the entrance. The doors open at 10am and it’s a good idea to arrive early as you won’t want to miss the morning feeding show at 11am.

This is an exciting hands-on experience where visitors get the opportunity to hand milk a cow and bottle-feed some gorgeous baby animals. The baby animals differ from visit to visit for obvious reasons (they grow up), but on the day we visited the kids were able to bottle-feed piglets, lambs, kids, calves and a sweet baby alpaca.

At the entrance, you can purchase bags of pellets for $2 each and almost all of the animals eat these pellets, so prepare to be surrounded by the many free-range animals as soon as you pass the first gate.

For some little ones Oakvale Wildlife Park may be their first hands-on experience with animals other than a cat or dog so keep in mind that it can be exciting, but also a little frightening, to have a chicken or baby goat run up eagerly searching for food. I did notice a couple of kids quite scared and overwhelmed during the bottle-feeding show. In this instance, it would be a better idea to witness the happy chaos of the show from the benches provided.

Immediately following the feeding show, we hopped aboard the free tractor-trailer that takes you on a tour of the park. This is a great way to see the whole park, situated on 21 acres, if you don’t feel that your little ones are up to walking the entire loop (mine weren’t). I especially loved watching the lemurs running around and playing on Lemur Island.

It’s hard to miss the amazing adventure playground located right near the feeding show stadium. It was one of the first things my kids spotted as we walked through the gate and they would have quite happily played there most of the morning if there weren’t so many other exciting things to do.

Oakvale Wildlife Park Play Area

The playground features climbing opportunities, slides, spring riders, swings and a limited mobility swing. It is also fully fenced, so little animals can’t get in and little people can’t get out, giving parents and carers the opportunity for some time out.

The daily program at Oakvale Wildlife Park features shows and presentations all day. Rather than trying to fit everything in, which is hard with small children, I’d suggest choosing one or two shows to keep the day relaxed and enjoyable. This visit we chose the koala show which was informative and engaging. At the end of the show, we all got to pat a koala, the highlight of my 4 year old’s day.

Don’t forget to pack the kids’ swimmers and a towel as a recent exciting development at Oakvale Wildlife Park has been the addition of Splash Bay, an innovative water activity area which is included on entry. Splash Bay features a water play section suitable for babies and toddlers plus water cannons, spray tunnels and a super soaker bucket for the older or more adventurous kids.

By the middle of the day, most of the kids in the park could be found at Splash Bay and they all appeared to be having a ball. There is also a second adventure playground in this area suitable for toddlers and smaller kids. The astroturf under the playground can get quite hot in the middle of the day but there are plenty of shaded areas to sit and supervise Splash Bay. I was impressed to discover that there is a waterproof wheelchair available as well so that kids with limited mobility don’t have to miss out. The staff assure me that Splash Bay is open year-round, even throughout winter, for those kids who just don’t feel the cold.

Plan ahead for a full day of fun to make the most of your visit. For lunch and snacks, there are plenty of hot and cold options available at Oakvale café, however the park is a delightful outdoor setting for a BYO picnic or BBQ lunch. There are eight undercover gas barbecues free to use and plenty of outdoor undercover picnic tables.

For something a little bit special the park offers 20-minute animal encounters for an extra charge. There is also a photo centre offering the unique opportunity to purchase photos with the animals. A large tea room is available for use as well as a private party room for hire, with party packages available. If your kids have an absolute ball and ask to go again, like mine did, you may want to consider a season pass.

I’d recommend Oakvale Wildlife Park for kids of all ages and a visit would certainly make a memorable day out for a playgroup or mother’s group.


Useful Information

Address: 3 Oakvale Drive, Salt Ash, New South Wales

Transport Options: Port Stephens Coaches have direct services from Wickham Interchange. The bust stops at the intersection of Nelson Bay Road and Oakvale Drive. It’s a 40 minute drive north from Newcastle. It’s a 2.5 hour drive north of Sydney.

Phone: 02 4982 6222

Hours: Open every day 10am – 5pm, except Christmas Day and Anzac Day (café hours are 10.30am – 3pm)

Amenities: Disabled toilets and baby change areas, warm showers at Splash Bay

Cost: Adult $29.50, Child 3-16 $17.50, Pensioner/Senior $25.50, children under 3 are free, family tickets available

For more information, visit the Oakvale Wildlife Park website.

Disclosure: Newy with Kids received complimentary admission to Oakvale Wildlife Park for review purposes. However, all opinions are our own.

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Meg White

Meg is a stay-at-home mum whose interests include gardening, reading, writing poetry and not staying at home. A born and bred Novocastrian, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and weekend road trips to discover new and interesting places. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.
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