Luck and Gungahlin’s local delights

Luck is a major determinant of your fortunes when you decide to choose a neighbourhood and a home from 15,000 kilometres away, and I’m happy to report that ‘the lucky country’ has so far blessed us with a fair amount of fortune.

A mere month ago, Gungahlin seemed an exotic name for an outer suburb of a city we’d researched but didn’t know too much about. We reasoned that, given Canberra’s reputation for being easy to get around, even if Gungahlin turned out to be as dull as an Eskimo’s diet, there would be plenty of other options within easy reach.

Luckily – there’s that word again – Gungahlin has turned out to have more than its own fair share of delights.

Last weekend we gave the kids a rundown of the leisure options within a few minutes’ drive of our house. The clear winner was Canberra Reptile Zoo, which is located in Gold Creek.

Entrance sign to Canberra Reptile Zoo

Canberra Reptile Zoo, in Gold Creek village.

The place doesn’t look very promising from the outside and is clearly undergoing some renovation but with entry for the whole family costing less than $40, I wasn’t smarting too much at the dissonance between price and experience.

The place is small, comprising two main exhibit rooms linked by a short corridor, but what the place lacks in space, it more than makes up for with the enthusiasm of its staff, their subject knowledge and their eagerness to share it.

No sooner had we entered, than two of the staff came back into the exhibit rooms and started lifting lizards, snakes and mini-crocs from their enclosures and offering wide-eyed kids an opportunity to greet the animals close-up, while also learning about their diets, natural habitats and whether you should be wary of them in the wild.

Close-up of a snake.

Thankfully, this fella was behind glass rather than in our garden.

I must confess to hanging around at the back of the group, lest I should be forced to brave holding a snake or something, but our two boys loved it – as did many others, judging by the squeals and screams coming from a birthday party group in the garden.

Close-up of a lizard's head.

The Reptile Zoo is home to lizards, frogs, crocs, toads, turtles and tortoises too.

I think it’s stretching definitions to call the place a zoo, but I can’t argue with the fact that we spent a thoroughly worthwhile hour and a half there. An added bonus was the fact that our eldest son wanted to go straight to the library the next day so he could borrow a book about reptiles. Any day out that gets him reading is a winner with me.

Most importantly, the first snake I met in Australia was behind a glass door which was secured with a nice heavy padlock. Even so, above its enclosure was a map showing that it was native to the Canberra region. With more of that luck I spoke about, I won’t meet its relatives any time soon.

All reptiled out, we walked over the road to the specialist tea cafe Adore Tea, which proudly declares itself to be a coffee free zone.

There, Mrs CBRbound and I soothed away the close encounters with Gungahlin’s scaly residents with one of the 300 types of tea on offer and cream scones that wouldn’t look out of place in Devon or Cornwall.

A cream tea and a cup of tea,

A cream tea and a nice cup of Earl Grey awaited two parents with snake-induced heebie-jeebies.

Meanwhile, the kids sipped iced tea and watched the fire-breathers that were performing for cafe guests and asked if we could visit the nearby National Dinosaur Museum next.

That’s within walking distance of our house too. Lucky that, eh?

3 thoughts on “Luck and Gungahlin’s local delights

  1. Walking distance! You are close. I’ve lived in Canberra for nearly four decades and much of that have lived very near hills/nature reserves (Oakey Hill, Isaacs Ridge). I have seen a snake precisely once. I wouldn’t worry too much. Be alert but not alarmed. Snakes are mostly shy and want nothing to do with us.

    How’s Mr Pup going?


    • That’s rather reassuring. I’m hoping Mr P won’t seek one out either.

      I can’t honestly answer about Mr Pup. We received an invoice from Quarantine today so tried to call to see if this means he can come home. But you can’t call Eastern Creek directly any more, and the call centre couldn’t put us through, so they said they’d pass on a message to call us urgently with info. That was at lunchtime and now the call centre is closed again. For an organisation so hot on nitpicking others’ attention to detail, they seem pretty inept at basic communication. You can tell, I’m frustrated by this. We just want him home and they’re not helping much.


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