My hidden gem – Walkabout Creek

August 28, 2016

Ssh, come closer…. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Nestled in the leafy suburb of The Gap—set back from Mt Nebo Road and lapped by the clear waters of the Enoggera Reservoir—is the hidden gem that is Walkabout Creek.

Here you can find a wildlife park, walking tracks, café and (thanks to a recent upgrade) new bike paths for all ages plus a beach for swimming.

If you prefer being on the water rather than in it you can bring your kayak or stand up paddle board and paddle around the dam. You can even have your wedding, high tea or function in the function room.

Being a Ranger

Shan with a very handsome reptile
Shan with a very handsome reptile

I spoke to Ranger Shan Marshall  to find out more about one of my favourite places in Brisbane. Ranger Shan is one of the team leaders at Walkabout Creek specialising in animal husbandry and wildlife presentations. Shan has a passion for wildlife and conservation with a  love for all creatures, especially those native to the area.

“I have worked at Walkabout Creek for about two years now, but before that I was a volunteer here,” Shan says.

“I studied Science, majoring in Marine Studies and Zoology, and earned my Honours degree which is why my role at Walkabout Creek is very diverse. I work closely with the animals and monitoring their enclosures whilst also doing presentations to school groups of all ages, seniors groups and tour groups.”

Shan says  Rangers still go out into the field to do regular jobs including fire watch and monitoring of the biodiversity in the park. A diverse and interesting career for those interested in wildlife.

The animals

Resident platypus
Burrun, the resident platypus

I’m a longtime fan of ‘Burrun’ – the park’s resident platypus, we go way back. I’m excited to say that recent upgrades have made room for a new baby platypus … technically Burrun’s stepbrother!

Ranger Shan tells me, “Willam is seven-months-old. He came here from the breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary and has the same mother as Burrun.”

Burrun is known to be a little quirky at times … after all, he has a favourite stick!

“Almost every day you can find him in the afternoon having fun with his stick,” Shan says. “When we moved enclosures we had to make sure stick went with him to keep him happy . Visitors often notice and get very excited at a little platypus being so playful.”

Ranger Shan doesn’t like to play favourites, but when pressed confesses to having a favourite ‘child’.

“The Sugar Gliders,” she says. “They are very playful. We have five here at the park and although they are native to the area people rarely see them as they are nocturnal. We also have some cute baby pademelons and Bruce, the Spotted Quoll, who is quite old for a quoll at five-and-a-half years; Quolls usually only live four years.”

There are reptiles of all shapes and sizes, even a freshwater crocodile, frogs, fish, a wombat and a wallaby enclosure that you can walk through.

New activity upgrades

Recent upgrades to the park include the beach, events lawn, mountain bikes skills course, more new playground equipment including a huge sandpit, roly poly hill and balancing beams.

Coffee break (its compulsory)
Coffee break (it’s compulsory)

After a busy morning filled with the many activities Walkabout Creek has to offer you can enjoy a light lunch, Devonshire tea or coffee in the treetops at the Green Tree Frog café.

There are function and meeting rooms for business groups and talks. The function room caters for weddings and functions of all types and there is even a wedding dais with spectacular views of the dam.

The best thing about Walkabout Creek

Ranger Shan smiles when asked to pick the best thing.

“I am really happy to come to work every day. I get to work with animals and educate people about conservation.  I have a diverse range of roles so my job is different every day,” she says.

Perfect for a wedding!
Perfect for a wedding!

Before I leave, Shan introduces me to some of her friends – a python, a lovely frilled-neck  lizard and my favourite – ‘Slim’ the blue tongued lizard.  His tongue really is very blue.

Kids can join the junior ranger program during the school holidays or come and watch the platypus and quoll feeding. There are wildlife discovery tours on the weekend where you can meet Slim and his friends and learn more about our native animals.

So for a totally wild and wonderful day out filled with activity and fun you can’t beat Walkabout Creek.  Come and meet Ranger Shan and her friends and learn more about our native wildlife. But please don’t tell the locals I’ve let the secret out!

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