Australian Reptile Park – Somersby, New South Wales, Australia

April 30, 2024

Australian Reptile Park

Where Adventure Meets Conservation


Stepping into a wonderful world to explore with conservation efforts at its heart

Step into a world where adventure and conservation converge, providing excitement and discovery right around every corner of this well-loved tourist gem. Welcome to the Australian Reptile Park, Australia’s original hands-on zoo with a focus on conservation efforts at its core, nestled amidst the natural beauty of the Central Coast of New South Wales.

Home to over 2,000 animals, the iconic park offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most beloved wildlife. From cuddling koalas and kangaroos to braving encounters with massive pythons, the Australian Reptile Park invites guests to immerse themselves in the wonders of the animal kingdom.

“The Australian Reptile Park is Australia’s original hands-on zoo,” remarks Tim Faulkner, the park’s Director, emphasizing its unique approach to animal encounters. The park is more than just a haven for animal enthusiasts; it’s a hub of lifesaving initiatives and conservation efforts. The park is pivotal in safeguarding Australia’s precious wildlife and ecosystems through its antivenom program and partnership with the charity Aussie Ark.

Celebrating its dedication, the Australian Reptile Park has been honored with the coveted ‘Major Tourist Attraction’ award, winning Gold at the 2023 Australian Tourism Awards. This respected accolade marks a significant milestone in the park’s illustrious history, coinciding with its 75th birthday.


Tim Faulkner, Director, with a wombat.

Legacy of conservation and family fun

Faulkner traces the park’s roots back to its origins as an aquarium, founded by individuals driven by an interest in Australia’s diverse wildlife. However, the pressing need for anti-venom in the face of venomous snake bites spurred a pivotal shift in the park’s focus. Collaborating with the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, the park embarked on a mission to supply snake venom to produce life-saving anti-venom—a role it still fulfills.

Reflecting on nearly two decades at the helm, Faulkner emphasizes the familial bond that characterizes the park’s culture. “It’s like a family,” he remarks, acknowledging the collective effort of the park’s dedicated team members in steering it toward success.

The park’s trajectory has been marked by significant milestones and challenges alike. Faulkner recounts the transformative period starting in 2012, a time of growth and expansion for the park. However, this upward trajectory was punctuated by the catastrophic events of the “black summer” wildfires ravaging Australia’s east coast.

Fires and pandemic shutdowns

“The east coast of Australia was on fire,” Faulkner recalls the wildfires’ extreme impact on the park and the surrounding communities. Despite the looming threat posed by the encroaching flames, the park persevered, its resilience shining through the darkest times.

Just as the smoke began to clear, the world was thrust into the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic—a global crisis that brought unprecedented challenges to businesses worldwide. For the first time in its 75-year history, the Australian Reptile Park closed its doors, navigating the uncertainty with a blend of business savvy and compassion.

“We handled it with dignity, care, sensitivity, and pride,” Faulkner reflects, acknowledging the problematic decisions, including the temporary stand-down of half the park’s team members. Despite the upheaval, the park remained committed to engaging with its community, launching initiatives such as “Wildlife Tales with Tim Faulkner.”

These educational videos, reaching 40 million viewers, served as a glimpse of hope and solace during uncertain times. Faulkner openly acknowledges their immense impact, recognizing how they uplifted the park’s audience and morale.

Amidst adversities, triumphs emerged. Faulkner reminisces about the period between lockdowns when the park witnessed its most successful year yet, propelled by a surge in domestic tourism and governmental support. The team’s resilience and a newfound appreciation for outdoor experiences propelled them to unprecedented levels of achievement.

A day of adventure and connection

Navigating through successive lockdowns, the park remains persistent in its duty to provide an exceptional experience for visitors. Faulkner reflects on the park’s character of perseverance, remarking, “We tripled down in the good times and the bad times. We’re perpetual optimists.”

With creativity and innovation at its core, the park’s team embarked on a journey of adaptation, leveraging marketing strategies and internal activations to enhance the visitor experience. Faulkner’s optimism and resilient leadership permeate the organization, driving it to new heights despite its challenges.

Considering the park’s journey, Faulkner delves into its financial resilience, grounded in thoroughly examining historical growth patterns. By scrutinizing a decade’s worth of data and overlooking the disruptions caused by bushfires and the pandemic, the park-adjusted its strategy, navigating through uncertainty while sustaining a positive trajectory.

Faulkner stresses the significance of harmonizing entertainment with education, shunning pessimistic messaging to foster a welcoming, family-friendly environment. Visitors can expect themed exhibits, interactive demonstrations, and the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of wildlife hands-on. Faulkner stresses the park’s mission to be on every family’s bucket list, offering an affordable, fun-filled day out that leaves lasting memories.


The venomous realm

Embedded within the park’s evolution lies its dedication to preserving venomous snakes—a mission illuminated by the recent development of a state-of-the-art venom facility. Faulkner shares insights into this ambitious project, emphasizing its dual purpose of showcasing the life-saving venom program while offering visitors a captivating and educational experience. Notably, this program has saved over 20,000 lives, showing its impact on human and animal welfare.

Faulkner passionately elaborates on the significance of the venom facility, stating, “The facility stands as a testament to our dedication to education and conservation. It’s a sizable structure necessary to accommodate our population of 300 venomous snakes, ensuring their well-being and happiness. Yet, from an external perspective, it’s also an aesthetically pleasing addition to the park’s landscape.”

Faulkner explains that visitors can stroll through the facility’s historical aspects. He notes the misconception of past venom extraction methods, highlighting the educational aspect of the exhibits. Additionally, he mentions live displays featuring the world’s most venomous snakes, particularly Australian species, offering an extraordinary and matchless experience.

Set to open its doors by Christmas, the facility promises to offer visitors a comprehensive view of the world of venomous snakes. From historical insights into anti-venom development to interactive exhibits demonstrating how snakes deliver venom, the experience will be informative and engaging.

Future endeavors at the Reptile Wildlife Park

Even though the park’s name suggests focusing solely on reptiles, Faulkner acknowledges its diverse offerings. “Marketers would say, ‘Well, your name doesn’t do you justice as the Australian Reptile Park,’ because we have a lot of things that aren’t reptiles,” he notes. “A lot of mammals, birds, and amphibians.”

Faulkner reflects on imaginative offerings such as swimming with crocodiles and imagining experiences that transcend the usual. He expresses enthusiasm for croc tanks, suggesting, “People dive with sharks. Why not swim with a croc?”

Faulkner recognizes the significance of preserving the park’s inclusive and family-oriented environment. He emphasizes, “I don’t want attractions that limit accessibility based on affordability alone. That’s very restrictive.”

With a focus on inclusivity and memorable experiences for all visitors, Faulkner emphasizes retaining the park’s essence. “I want every kid to come here and talk with someone wearing a green shirt,” he expresses. “I want them to go home thinking we’re a superhero that’s given them some good mentoring in life, albeit a brief encounter.”

Balancing innovation with inclusivity, Faulkner aims to ensure that the Australian Reptile Park remains where adventure, education, and conservation converge, offering enriching experiences for everyone who walks through its gates.

As the Australian Reptile Park continues to write its next chapter, one thing remains certain—its dedication to wildlife conservation, education, and the timeless thrill of adventure awaits visitors from near and far. Faulkner emphasizes, “I just want to let the dust settle a little bit from the past years, continue to do what we do well, and look to the future with open eyes.”


Australian Reptile Park

What:  Australian Reptile Park is developing a state-of-the-art venom facility committed to conservation, education, and providing engaging experiences for visitors.

Where: The Australian Reptile Park is in Somersby, New South Wales, Australia.



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