Up close with Aussie wildlife

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It is described as a park or a nature reserve, but this spot is best experienced as a ‘Peace Blossom’

Caversham Wildlife Park in Whiteman Park is a really great wildlife park to attend, definitely the best in Perth. I always take travelling friends there and never get tired of it. I started visiting many years ago but only met the Thorne family who run the park in 2013, when it was dedicated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom.

The idea of Peace Blossoms is simple but positive. A place, landmark or natural wonder dedicates itself as a Peace-Blossom, joining with many other Peace-Blossoms around the world. The Thorne family were really inspirational in their support of the program and having a more peaceful world. There is a plaque reminding people of the importance of peace on display and the inauguration featured school choirs and local councillors.

You really get the feeling of peace at Caversham. It feels more like a nature sanctuary than a park. There is plenty of greenery, shaded areas and benches and the wildlife is clearly loved by both the staff and volunteers that run the place. When the Thornes purchased the park in 1987, the park housed just a small collection of animals and birds on a modest 5 acre (2ha) property. A few years later, the park doubled in size, when the family purchased the adjoining property and the collection started to boom. In May 2003, the family designed and built a new park in Whiteman Park, once again, more than doubling in size. It now features about 200 species, and more than 2000 head of animals, birds and reptiles, making it the largest privately owned collection of native wildlife in Western Australia.

A large number of tourists, locals and schools visit and it is no wonder, you can really get up close with the animals. The kangaroos are super tame and you can hand feed them but the highlight for me is always the Wombat Show. It is held in an arena where you can interact with many animals including possums, betongs (small marsupial), snakes (I avoided that part) and of course wombats (I’d love one as a pet).

Walking through Caversham Wildlife Park and visiting the enclosures takes a good couple of hours and the Wombat Show and other shows like the Farm Show are held at regular intervals in the day. All of them are entertaining and appropriate for toddlers, adults and octogenarians and the whole park is pram friendly. It is not uncommon to see visiting sports personalities or celebrities. Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco was there last time I visited. If they want the classic photograph with our iconic koala whilst in Perth, this is the place most of them come.

I was really proud when somewhere in my own backyard became a Peace Blossom. Other significant Peace-Blossoms incorporating nature include Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls, Mt. Fuji, Mt. Everest, the Matterhorn, Lake Baikal and the Great Barrier Reef. The nature of peace is to spread, according the founder of the program Sri Chinmoy, and it became obvious soon after Caversham Wildlife Park joined the program when the Irwin’s Australia Zoo also became inspired. The latest place in West Australia dedicated to peace is Bridgetown, with an inauguration planned for March, but more about that next time.

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