Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas is an interactive sanctuary

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas is an interactive sanctuary

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Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas airlie cassowary
Airlie the curious cassowary. Photos: Irene Isaacson.

The award-winning Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas is five minutes from Port Douglas on the main highway north of Cairns. It’s an interactive sanctuary that offers every opportunity to see, experience and photograph the most amazing and at times rare North Queensland Australian wildlife.

As a hobbyist wildlife photographer, I love to wander around an animal sanctuary or zoo to shoot that one perfect shot that in my dreams will one day go viral on social media.

Children and animals can make the most difficult subjects, but when bars, fencing, wire and glass increase that challenge, the level of disappointment and frustration can break one’s spirit and heart.

The Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
Green eclectus parrot

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

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Clockwise from left: Entrance to Wildlife Habitat, rainforest elevated boardwalk, beautiful ginger plant.

Animals, birds and reptiles, from woodland, rainforest, wetland and Savannah, the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas has it all. And the best thing? It is designed as an open, immersive environment for visitors to actually mingle amongst the wildlife.

There are meandering paths, streams and elevated boardwalks which help create an up close and personal experience.

Natural Australian Wildlife Habitats

The setting for much of the park simulates natural Australian environments, so you really feel the bush or rainforest.

While on a personal tour around the centre with Bec Lynch, Wildlife Supervisor, as we enter the park we step into Woodland and are instantly surrounded by numerous small birds on the ground, in shrubs or in the air.

A breeding stone curlew female sits on her nest, whilst her statuesque mate stands ‘catatonic’ nearby, not wishing to be noticed but on guard in defence of his woman, just in case.

Over 75 species of bird are here free to fly around and interact as they wish.

Magpie geese rule the roost, often seen high on top of the enclosure’s netting, whilst ducks waddle around at floor level or precariously balance on the paths handrails.

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Clockwise from left: Emu selfie, stone curlews, northern nail-tail wallabies

The Savannah houses macropods with many varieties of wallabies and kangaroos, that compete with birds, especially the geese at communal feeding times.

There are also koalas, with the cursory opportunity to hold one for that must-have selfie shot at one of the daily souvenir photo shoots.

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Clockwise from left: Handsome black-necked stork, koala, juvenile black-necked storks

Rare and the wonderful wildlife

The Habitat is home to the rare and stunning black-necked storks with a most successful breeding program here. Both juvenile and adult birds roam the Wetland and offer unbelievable, unobstructed photographic experiences.

The first one bred in captivity at the Habitat is now housed at Australia Zoo.

But what holds our fascination is the rare Lumholtz tree-kangaroo, whose display is one of only two in the world.

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Clockwise from left: Lumholz tree kangaroo, strong-armed tree roo, southern cassowary

This curious nocturnal creature is quite endearing. At only 650mm high and weighing up to 7kg, it has the longest tail of all the kangaroos, which it uses for balance (not prehensile) as it runs around high in the tree branches.

One of only two Australian tree-roos, it is virtually only found in the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland above 300m and is Critically Endangered.

Another personal favourite is the also endangered Southern cassowary, the third largest bird in the world.

It too shares a place in the Wildlife Habitat’s active breeding program along with the Mahogany glider, Tree-roo and Spotted-tailed Quoll.

A pair of cassowaries (one is called Airlie) in the Wildlife Habitat’s Rainforest are naturally curious and take great delight in checking out Tony’s iPhone, perhaps trying to take its own selfie?

Habitat Port Douglas
Southern cassowary – Airlie’s selfie

Such is the natural nature of the rainforest setting that I laugh as we see a sleeping green frog nestled on a palm leaf, totally at home and oblivious to wandering visitors.

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas Reviews
Clockwise from top: Green tree frog, sentient agile wallaby, estuarine crocodile, Boyd’s forest dragon

Wildlife Care And Rescue Centre

And let’s not forget the Habitat’s community role as a Wildlife Care and Rescue Centre.

Hundreds of injured or orphaned wildlife have passed through its doors including crocodiles as well as many other animal or birds. Displaced chicks or orphaned marsupials are raised on site and finally released back into the wild.

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas black necked stork
The female black-necked stork is distinguished by its yellow eye.

With only the support of a wildlife Vet who lives in Cairns (an hour away), many of the staff have developed the skills and experience to manage sick or injured birds and do so reasonably well.

As our guide Bec finishes our tour, she tells us about their popular Volunteer Program, with many international volunteers experiencing a four, six or eight-week program at the centre, feeding, cleaning and doing the everyday jobs to operate this amazing attraction (pick me, pick me!).

Get Up Close And Personal

A Daily Tour Schedule runs from 9am to 4pm, with numerous interactive experiences, feeding or photo opportunities with birds, koalas, reptiles, turtles and pelicans, to name a few.

The Curlew Café and Bar is set in the Wetlands where you can a Breakfast With The Birds or Lunch With The Lorikeets. Or you can have a Picnic With The Parrots in the Rainforest area. And if there are sufficient numbers, you can also book a Wildlife Nocturnal Tour.

Wildlife Habitat offers a quality ecotourism experience, backed by a strong commitment to sustainable practices with minimal impact on their natural environment.

Irene Isaacson visited Wildlife Habitat with the assistance of Tourism and Events Queensland. 

Discover Queensland

If you plan to visit Port Douglas, you simply HAVE to drop in and visit Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas. There is so much to see and do, surrounded by nature and wildlife. Its great fun for all the family and lots to keep the little ones amused!

Another cool spot to visit in North Queensland is Paronella Park.

Are you interested visiting a charming village? Head to Kuranda Village on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas Long pin