Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre in The Gap: Turtles Need a Long-term Commitment for Care

The Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre in The Gap is home to a unique resident, a freshwater turtle of extraordinary proportions, dubbed by wildlife officers as the largest turtle they have ever encountered. 

However, amidst this notable resident at the Centre lies a deeper issue that concerns not only The Gap but Queensland at large—a growing trend of well-meaning individuals acquiring pet turtles without fully comprehending the commitment these reptiles entail and then giving them up when they realise they can no longer care for them as pets.

A Popular Yet Misunderstood Choice

Freshwater turtles have long been a beloved choice among Queenslanders when it comes to keeping pets. Their captivating appearance, especially as hatchlings, often leads people to believe they can thrive in the confines of a fish tank. However, this assumption proves misguided, as these creatures require meticulous care and attention throughout their long lives.

Warren Christensen, the Manager of Southern Wildlife Operations, emphasised that owning a turtle is not a fleeting commitment, akin to a seasonal Christmas ornament. 

He explained that freshwater turtles can live for an impressive 40 to 50 years. Thus, they require not only a spacious habitat with water for swimming but also access to land for exercise, and when kept indoors, a large fish tank coupled with ultraviolet light.

Health Matters

Aside from the space and environmental requirements, the health of pet turtles is paramount. Mr. Christensen warned that neglecting their need for clean water can result in various health issues, including soft, cracked, or peeling shells. 

Regrettably, many turtles surrendered to authorities, like those from The Gap, often exhibit signs of neglect and poor health due to improper care. Mr Christensen further explained the grim reality that many surrendered turtles cannot be rehomed, given the stringent requirements for their care. 

One recent incident involved a 20-year-old turtle, relinquished by an owner who could no longer care for it. Astonishingly, this turtle had been living indoors with the freedom to roam and an unregulated diet, conditions far from ideal for its well-being. Fortunately, the turtle is now thriving at the Walkabout Creek Discovery in The Gap.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Addressing the Issue of Permits

One glaring issue that compounds the problem is the lack of necessary permits for turtle ownership. Many individuals who surrender these creatures have procured them without the proper documentation. 

This, Mr Christensen stressed, contributes to the illegal trade of native wildlife—a grave concern in Queensland and Australia as a whole.

The illegal trade of native animals poses a significant threat to Australia’s unique wildlife, as it often involves the unlawful removal of creatures from their natural habitats. Both sellers and buyers who partake in this trade risk facing fines or even court prosecution. 

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is unwavering in its commitment to combating this issue, reiterating its zero-tolerance stance towards the illegal wildlife trade.

An Appeal for Responsible Pet Ownership

As the holiday season approaches, and people consider welcoming a pet into their homes, Mr Christensen issues a heartfelt plea. He encourages potential pet owners to thoroughly educate themselves on the specific care requirements of native animals, including turtles. 

Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of obtaining the necessary permits to ensure that these animals are acquired legally and ethically.

Published 18-Dec-2023

Immersive Education Room Opens at Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre Near The Gap

Conservation education programs have resumed at the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, where a new and improved education room has opened inside the Enoggera Reservoir site near The Gap.

With a theme revolving around the D’Aguilar National Park habitat, the new site features lifelike, trees, rocks, and grasses, plus stunning, floor-to-ceiling images around the walls. 

The refurbishment of the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre is part of a $300,000 state government investment which upgraded the wildlife and visitor centre into a unique space where children could closely interact with some animals and gain firsthand knowledge about their habitat, life cycles and conservation needs.

Photo Credit: QueenslandGoverment

The improvements also include new enclosures for wombats and echidnas.

“The new echidna enclosure is the perfect home for Rocko, enabling Walkabout Creek to exhibit this iconic species, which hasn’t been done before at this location,” said Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon.

“Billy the wombat is enjoying his new surroundings which have been expanded and provide more practical elements such as structures, water, tunnels, and air-conditioning.”

“Billy, Rocko and Dash the emu will all be on hand to welcome visitors and help pass on some helpful tips so we can protect our iconic native species.”

The Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre is located on the edge of D’Aguilar National Park, a 36,400-hectare park with eucalyptus forest that stretches from The Gap to Lake Wivenhoe.

Winter School Holiday Activities at Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre at The Gap

Keeping the kids busy for the winter school holidays is made simple with the help of several child-friendly activities organised by the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre at The Gap.

Let your kids connect with nature while having fun at these family-friendly winter school holiday activities.

Wildlife Show

Photo credit: www.queensland.com

If your kid is an animal-lover, bring him or her to the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre for the holidays. The centre hosts wildlife shows where rangers teach children how to care for animals and national parks.

The wildlife show is scheduled twice every day from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. starting on Saturday, 30 June 2018 up to Sunday, 15 July 2018.

The event costs $15 for adults, $10 for children, and $35 for a family with two adults and two children. For more information visit the Winter 2018 Program page.

Book Now

Wildlife at Night

Curious about Australia’s nocturnal wildlife? Join the Wildlife at Night event at Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre. Activities for the event include nocturnal wildlife monitoring and park exploration by night. Guests can also enjoy stargazing and a light snack.

The Wildlife at Night is scheduled from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, 6 July 2018 and 13 July 2018.

Tickets cost $15 per person or $50 for a family with two adults and two children.

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Fossil Finders

This event is perfect for kids fascinated with dinosaurs. Dig for dinosaur fossils under the sand and make your own fossil to take home.

Fossil Finders is scheduled from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on Monday, 2 July 2018.

The event is for children aged five to eight years only. Head over to the  Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre and BYO morning tea.

Costs are $25 per child and includes Junior Ranger Pack.

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Insect Investigators

Photo credit: CC0 Public Domain/PxHere

An event dedicated for kids six to nine years old, Insect Investigators

will allow your child to search for clues left by native animals and insects as well as go on a ranger-guided walk.

The event is scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 July 2018.

Costs are $25 per child and include a Junior Ranger Pack.

Don’t forget to BYO snack or morning tea. Includes Junior Ranger Pack.

Book Now

Vacation Care

If you are looking for a vacation centre for the winter school holidays, YMCA The Gap OSHC offers vacation care at The Gap State Primary School.

YMCA The Gap OSHC’s Vacation Care is open from 6:30 am to 6:00 p.m. For more information, you may:

  • Call 3300 4792 or 0419 171 742
  • Email agp@ymcabrisbane.org
  • Visit their website