Nestled in the bushland behind Burleigh Heads is a little-known treasure called the David Fleay Wildlife Park. Established by Dr David Fleay in the 1950s, the wildlife park is a tranquil and quiet habitat for a large variety of wildlife, all of which are endemic to Queensland.
Many of the animals, birds, and reptiles that call the park home have been rehabilitated after being injured or diseased. If they are unable to be released back into the wild, they are lucky enough to live out their days in the 18 acres of eucalypt forest, rainforest, and mangroves.
The park offers daily shows and talks with rangers, picnic facilities, bushwalks, and an onsite cafe, making it a great morning or afternoon out for families.
Things to do at David Fleay Wildlife Park
Affectionately known as Fleay’s, the David Fleay Wildlife Park can be tackled as a day trip from Brisbane or is a great place to visit when you’re next holidaying at the Gold Coast.
After parking your car, walk along the zigzagging boardwalk to the park’s visitor centre, scan the QR code when you pay on entry, and a park map will pop up on your phone. You can then enter the wildlife oasis! Simply follow the trail clockwise, which begins at the amphitheatre (where some of the daily shows are held) and finishes with the reptile exhibit. Slow down, immerse yourself in nature and stroll along at your own (or at your toddler’s!) pace.
The park is rarely busy, so you’ll be able to take your time in each habitat and exhibit. The staff, both volunteers and Queensland Parks and Wildlife officers, are always happy to answer any questions that you or your children may have. In addition to the beautifully maintained outdoor habitats, David Fleay Wildlife Park has simulated indoor habitats, including the nocturnal house, home to a range of creatures including platypus and bilbies.
Animals at David Fleay Wildlife Park
Fleay’s is home to a number of endangered and rarely seen species, including the bridled nail-tail wallaby, which was thought to be extinct until a small population was found in western Queensland in 1973. They also have the little-known Lumholtz tree kangaroo, which is only found in the wild on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland. Other animals that are on display include:
- Proserpine rock-wallabies
- Crocodiles (freshwater and estuarine)
- Squirrel gliders
- Spinifex hopping mice
- Bird of prey including wedge-tailed eagles
- Lace monitors
Animal encounters and shows at David Fleay Wildlife Park
Staff at the park run daily presentations, and although the schedule is subject to change, it often includes kangaroo feeding, a ranger talk about cassowaries, a nocturnal house tour and the long-running Fleay’s in Flight bird show.
These are all included in the entry price. During school holidays, the popular junior rangers program allows children to get hands-on and help out with animal feeding and enrichment, as well as going behind the scenes. These activities incur an additional cost and book out quickly, so visit qld.gov.au/davidfleay for more information. A new offering is their VIP tour, for an extra fee, which allows you to personalise the tour according to the wildlife you are most interested in learning about.
The history of David Fleay Wildlife Park
In the 1980’s Dr David Fleay sold his conservation park for a nominal fee to the Queensland Government to protect its legacy and to ensure the future of the reserve. The team at David Fleay Wildlife Park is proudly continuing his conservation efforts and inspiring and educating the next generation.
This is the only Queensland Government-owned and operated wildlife park. Dr Fleay was a well-respected environmentalist, whose legacy still benefits animals and humans today. Amongst his many accolades, he is recognised as being one of the first people to extract venom from snakes, allowing anti-venoms to be made.
Accessibility at David Fleay Wildlife Park
For the enjoyment of the whole community, Fleay’s is very accessible for those using wheelchairs or bringing strollers/prams. The different sections of the park are connected by bitumen paths or timber boardwalks with ramps.
A wheelchair-accessible bathroom is located next to the café. Guests can bring their own lunch and make use of the shaded tables and chairs, or spread out a picnic rug. In late 2021, a brand new cafe opened at Fleay’s selling light meals, snacks, cold drinks, ice creams, tea and coffee. The cafe looks out over the verdant reserve, making it a pretty stop to rest and refuel.
There is also a separate 900m bushwalk that leaves from the reserve, called the Tallebudgera Creek walking track. The first 400 metres of the track are wheelchair and pram accessible, with room to turn around.
Getting to David Fleay Wildlife Park
David Fleay Wildlife Park is located on the corner of Loman Road and West Burleigh Road, West Burleigh.
It is two minutes from the Tallebudgera Creek Road turn-off on the Pacific Motorway (exit 89) and 10min from the Gold Coast Airport. Parking is free.
The centre is open daily from 9.00 am until 4.00 pm, closed on Christmas Day and ANZAC Day morning. Annual passes are available. Tickets can be purchased either at reception upon entry, or online via qld.gov.au/davidfleay.
Other things to do in the local area
While in the area, why not continue the nature play at one of the Gold Coast’s many beautiful beaches? Alternatively, you could keep the kids in the great outdoors by trying one of these local activities:
- Tackle one of the Gold Coast’s kid-friendly bushwalks
- Visit the Gold Coast Butterfly House
- Take a cool dip at the Currumbin Rock Pools
- See even more wildlife at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary