Ever wanted to get up close and personal with a shark or stingray? Hidden away just north of the Gold Coast is a place where dreams come true for those obsessed with all things sharks and marine life!
The Shark and Ray Gardens in Loganholme is located inside Nielsen’s Native Nursery, and offers young and old the chance to meet and play with stingrays, sharks and a very special clownfish. Providing a very unique experience, your visit to the Shark and Ray Gardens is guaranteed to be both educational and fun!
On arrival, you’ll be greeted by Paul, the man behind the show. He’ll quickly explain to you that this is his office, and he’ll be back with his colleagues in a moment. Paul has a brilliant sense of humour, but also really knows his sharks and rays and his passion for them is unmistakeable. Thanks to an arrangement he has with some local fishing boats, all of his rays and sharks are rescued from trawlers nets and given a new life here. During our visit, we were introduced to a tawny nurse shark, a leopard shark, Gizmo the bluespotted ribbon tail ray and Doug the giant shovelnose ray. Right by Paul’s side the entire show is also his beloved clown fish!
After a quick safety briefing, you’re allowed into the water at around mid-shin depth. I’d recommend either wearing something above the knee, or some swim shorts (sunscreen isn’t allowed in the pool, so only apply to face and upper body – there are shade cloths over the pool). There are mats for you to stand on, and the show is brought to you – so stand still! Each animal will be brought over to you one at a time and you are encouraged to gently touch and feel their skin, with some of the rays even loving a good nose rub! Paul gives a bit of a chat about each animal which is incredibly informative, and he is really good at making sure everyone gets to meet the animals. I was very impressed at how good he was with our toddler in the water too – we were encouraged to let Master A feel the animals with his feet if he didn’t want to touch with his hands, and Paul even held Master A for us when he got a bit wriggly!
After you’ve met all the animals, you’ll get to see the 2 resident Barracudas get fed, and Doug might even get a special treat too. Once the formal part of the show is done (this takes about 25 minutes), you’ll be able to move to the edge of the pool and take a seat for some ‘free time’ with the animals. We sat with our legs in the water as they swam by us and chatted more with Paul about his set up and history with the animals.
We were lucky enough to have a private experience as we went on a weekday when it was quiet. On weekends and school holidays it can get quite busy with both adults and children, and I believe he can have 10-12 people in the pool at a time. Check out their Facebook page to confirm opening hours as they do change throughout the year. The gate opens 10 minutes before the session, so I’d recommend getting there 5 minutes before that in case it is busy (and check the Facebook page in case they require bookings).
At the end of your visit, why not check out the rest of the nursery. There is Marine Mates, a great aquarium with heaps of fish and corals that capture everyone’s eye. The nursery has one of the biggest varieties of plants around, and also a resident corella who loved saying ‘scratch’ and pressing his head up against the cage for a rub! Finish off your visit with a bite to eat or a cold drink at Lorikeets Coffee Shop – their milkshakes are delicious!
Need to know
Location: Nielsens Nursery, 51 Beenleigh Redland Bay Rd, Loganholme QLD 4129
Getting there: On arriving at the nursery, head towards the Marine Mates aquarium. There are signs to the Shark and Ray Gardens which are just behind and to the left of the aquarium. Payment is made at the Shark and Ray Gardens.
Cost: check out Scoopon and Groupon as they do often have deals going. We paid $25 for each adult, under 2 years was free. Kids prices are around $15.
- It is an outdoor venue so may not operate during rain or storms. Check their Facebook page for updates.
- No need for a towel as you dry off quickly, but wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.