Victoria’s Gumbaya World

Growing up in the 1980s in Melbourne, we had an add that played constantly on the television for a place called ‘Gumbaya Park’.

Gumbaya Park is the Place to Be,

Gumbaya Park for the Family…

Or something like that. The catch line was ‘Gumbaya Park – where you are greeted by the giant Pheasant’. And indeed, there was and still is a giant pheasant statue outside Gumbaya Park/World. As a kid I did visit Gumbaya Park. I don’t really remember it very well, other than they run a sort of ‘toboggan track’ which I think was on wheels and definitely was on a concrete track. And that was I believe the highlight.

What is the place? Well, it’s a sort of mini-theme park an hour and a bit from the city I guess. At some point in the last ten or so years they had a complete revamp and got rid of old rides. Including the toboggan track. They changed the name from ‘Park’ to ‘World’ which I think was just to show that change had happened as I think the place has had a bit of a reputation as being a little on the boring side, dull and run down.

So I guess today it is revamped operation, and the thing I think they really push is the animals. It’s basically just Australian animals that people come to see – koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, oh and snakes. The enclosures seem of decent size and the animals all healthy. As far as I saw. But the big drawcard that Gumbaya seems to be pushing is animal ‘experiences’, and basically that’s ‘up close’.

You can actually get to pet a number of the animals. Naturally it costs a bit extra, and I presume they have to regulate the number of people who come in and say, get to hold a koala. But for kids it’s probably an awesome experience. The only thing is I doubt it’s a great one for the animals. In fact, a kid gone wild might be quite the traumatic experience for a poor wallaby.

Of course, the experience is with a keeper, having said that they do allow you to walk in and pet the kangaroos in one enclosure with really not direct supervision and this is not extra. There was a roped off area in which the kangaroos could, if they worked it out, stay away from the humans. And they had – 80% of the kangaroos were behind the rope with a sign for people not to cross it. There was also a little area with farm animals for kids to pet. As nice as it is for the humans, I doubt the same could be said for the poor animals!

So what else? It’s winter here, so the water slide section – which I thought looked pretty impressive – was not operating. Or maybe it was, I could have sworn I saw people at the top of the water slide, and the pools and such were all filled with water. But honestly, it was (at maximum) sixteen degrees when I was there. Anyway on a hot day it looked like it would be a lot of fun for kids. And probably adult-kids too!

The rides were… well few and not a lot of thrills. There was a small coaster that was fun without being very scary – except that the tracks were pretty bare and didn’t look all that solid! There was a tree ride which swung people around in circles and a few others. And then there was a tractor ride – I thought to see animals but instead it took you through an unused part of the park where the remnants of the old Gumbaya Park stood, including the toboggan run. It was a little spooky in truth!

So, in summary, I think it’s a decent day’s entertainment for the kids. It won’t blow your socks off but especially in summer it could be a lot of fun. It provides a great opportunity to get close to Australian animals. But I’m not comfortable with the ethics of all that. Have you been? How did you find it? Would you recommend it? Please comment and as always – May the Journey Never End!

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