Cleland Wildlife Park offers the best opportunity to get up close to many of Australia’s native animals just minutes from the centre of Adelaide. Here are all the things you need to know about the park to plan your perfect visit.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- What is Cleland Wildlife Park?
- Why Visit Cleland Wildlife Park
- How to get to Cleland Wildlife Park from Adelaide
- Cleland Wildlife Park Animals – what should I expect to see?
- Cleland Wildlife Park Experiences
- Visiting Cleland Wildlife Park
- Cleland Wildlife Park Tickets
- Cleland Wildlife Park Opening Hours
- Other Things to do Near Cleland Wildlife Park
What is Cleland Wildlife Park?
Cleland Wildlife Park, is, unsurprisingly, a wildlife park located in the Adelaide Hills, just up the freeway from the Adelaide City centre. They are a government-run conservation park.
Opening in 1967, their aim is to connect people with animals in their natural environment.
Cleland Wildlife Park is not like a zoo. The park can be described as mostly open range.
The animals live in large enclosures (more like paddocks than cages), often mixed together as they would be in the wild. Visitors walk through the enclosures and can often get up nice and close to the animals
Why Visit Cleland Wildlife Park
A visit to Cleland Wildlife Park is a great opportunity to see some of Australia’s favourite animals in a setting that mimics their natural habitat.
You will also be able to interact with some of the animals, so that means you have a much more immersive experience than just seeing them in a zoo.
Get involved by picking up a bag of animal food at the entrance, and feeding the kangaroos, emus and wallabies who live in the park.
You can also choose to get up close to one of the koalas, where you can touch the koala and have your photo taken standing close to them.
There are also a range of keeper talks and animal feeds throughout the day so you can learn a little about the animals. For even more, there are paid experiences (see more below) that allow personal interaction with the animals too.
How to get to Cleland Wildlife Park from Adelaide
Cleland Wildlife Park is an easy half an hour drive from the city centre of Adelaide. Make your way along Glen Osmond Road and the South Western Freeway, getting off at the Crafers exit and then following the signs.
It is possible to get from Adelaide to Cleland Wildlife Park on public transport. You will need to catch bus 864F or T840 from Currie Street in the city, getting off in Crafers and swapping to the 823 bus to Cleland Wildlife Park.
This trip will take around an hour. An adult bus ticket will cost $5.90 each way or $11.20 for a day ticket (as at Oct 2022). You can find more information on the Adelaide Metro website.
You could also use a taxi or Uber to get to Cleland Wildlife Park. While prices are variable, a taxi fare one way will be $40-50 and Uber around $35.
Another alternative is to visit Cleland Wildlife Park as part of a day tour. I suggest this tour, which includes not only your transport and entry to Cleland, but a koala experience and a stop at Mount Lofty Summit too.
Cleland Wildlife Park Animals – what should I expect to see?
You are not going to be seeing any elephants or lions here. Cleland Wildlife Park focuses solely on Australian native animals, particularly ones that already call this area home.
That means they are well suited to the environment and the weather conditions here at Cleland. You will see lots of marsupials, such as kangaroos and wallabies, koalas, birds and reptiles.
Cleland Wildlife Park Experiences
Included in your regular ticket is the chance to get close to a Cleland koala, but if you want even more, you pay extra to hold a koala.
There are only a limited number of holds per day, so you will need to book in advance to ensure you get a spot.
If you don’t want to hold a koala but still want further interaction, you can book a private feeding experience where a keeper will take you behind the scenes to give a koala their lunch of eucalyptus leaves.
It’s not just the koalas, there are other animals here that you can meet more closely. Maybe a reptile is more to your liking, or a cockatoo, or butterflies.
You can book in to have breakfast with the birds, or you can enjoy a full day private experience to really make the most of your visit.
Kids will absolutely love visiting Cleland without doing anything extra, but if you happen to be visiting when one of the kids activities are on, then it’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn even more.
Look out especially for school holiday activities, but during the term you can also find programs such as “Bush Buddies”.
Note that many of the animal experiences has heat policies and can be cancelled on days when it is too hot for the animals.
They all have different cut-off temperatures, so check when you are booking. The koala holds, for example, do not go ahead if the temperature is above 32 degrees.
Visiting Cleland Wildlife Park
You will notice before you even arrive at Cleland Wildlife Park that this really is in a natural setting. A small path leads through the trees from the carpark to the entrance.
One inside go to the left and you will find big, open paddocks where the kangaroos, wallabies and emus graze or rest under the trees.
I did not have kids with me on my recent visit, and I regularly see kangaroos and wallabies up close, but I still spent quite a bit of time enjoying this area.
Sure, we fed them and gave them some pats, but it was also fun just to watch the antics. I saw a wallaby mama with what was clearly a large joey moving around in her pouch.
I was waiting patiently for the joey to stick his head out and take a look around. No such luck, but I did see a joey in another pouch.
We watched a wallaby chew on a carrot, a magpie swoop down and scare a whole bunch of wallabies away from their food so he could eat it (no one messes with magpies in spring!), and the noisy cockatoos helping themselves to the kangaroo food too.
Nearby we saw the wombats, and to our delight, one was actually out walking around. Wombats are notorious for sleeping in their burrows, so are always a hit-and-miss at wildlife park in my experience
There are a few different enclosures for the kangaroos and wallabies with different breeds in them I think our favourite was the yellow-footed rock wallabies. These guys were real little characters.
They greeted us at the gate, and escorted up from one end of the enclosure to the other.
They did not want to get too close to us, and mostly wouldn’t take food from our hands, but they bounced along through the rocks on other side of the path as we walked.
While you are visiting the yellow-footed rock wallabies take a moment to check out the views back toward the city from the lookout point. It was a little hazy during our visit, but on a good day, there would view views right out to sea.
There are three walk-through aviaries with a variety of birds in them that are fun to wander through, and a wetland area where you will see pelicans, ibis, ducks and more.
As you come around to the other side of the park you will see more of the animals that in in their own enclosures. They tend to be the predatory animals such as the dingo and Tasmanian devil.
The koalas are over this side too. I was pleased to see that it’s not just one or two koalas on display, but I am guessing there were ten koalas snoozing in the tree branches. The dedicated area to get close to the koalas is here too.
There was a small queue waiting, and unfortunately I didn’t have time to spare so I didn’t join them. The koala close-up times are 11am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm, so take these into account for your visit if you are hoping to do this.
In the building next to the entrance are the reptiles. As I was pressed for time, I almost didn’t go in, but that would have been a mistake.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many reptiles actively moving around their enclosures. From the brown snake, to the lizards and the bilby there was a lot of activity.
Before leaving, take a browse through the gift shop – they have some fantastic South Australian souvenirs that are not the same standard things you will find everywhere. You can also grab a coffee or lunch in their cafe before or after your visit.
I had allowed 2.5 hours for my visit to Cleland National Park, and in the end I was there for three hours, but as you can tell, I did rush a little towards the end knowing I was out of time.
I didn’t really see any of the keeper talks or feeds (we caught the tail end of the Wetlands talk) and didn’t do the koala close-up.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit even without these added extras. I loved the spaciousness of the park. There was so much space that we only occasionally came across other visitors, usually we could just see people in the distance.
There is a good range of animals here, and there is great access to all our favourites. I think international visitors would really love it here.
While the Cleland website recommends a minimum of two hours for a visit here, I think you should allow three at least if you would like to be able to enjoy the park at a leisurely pace.
If you can only spare two hours, you will have to keep moving at a steady pace to see everything.
Cleland Wildlife Park Tickets
While you can buy your tickets when you arrive, it is best to pick them up before you get there. After ordering through the link below, I received my tickets in an email only minutes later.
On arrival, I just had to give my name, pick up some animal food ($3 per bag) and the Cleland Wildlife Park map and I was on my way.
The Cleland Wildlife Park prices are reasonable, and I think they they are good value for what you get. An adult ticket is $31, and there are various options for kids, concession and family tickets.
Cleland Wildlife Park Opening Hours
Cleland Wildlife Park is open from 9:30am until 5pm every day of the year except for Christmas Day.
They will be closed though if the area has been deemed a “catastrophic” fire danger risk. (This will usually occur on hot, windy days in summer).
I did notice a sign on the carpark gates saying they are locked at 5pm, so I would recommend not dawdling too much at the end of the day because it could be problematic getting your car out.
The last bus of the day leaves from the bus stop outside at 4:30pm, so if you are catching public transport, be prepared for that too.
Other Things to do Near Cleland Wildlife Park
While you are visiting Cleland Wildlife Park, it’s a good opportunity to enjoy some of the nearby attractions. Here are a few of the nearby things to do:
- Walk the Steub Trail – you will see this trail on the left as you walk from the carapace into the wildlife park. It’s a 7km round trip through the Cleland Conservation Park to the Mount Lofty summit on a gently sloped, accessible track good for strollers, wheelchairs and bicycles too.
- Relax in the beautiful Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens
- Admire the views over the city from the Mount Lofty Summit
- Head further into the Adelaide Hills and visit Hahndorf or do some wine tasting
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