Take a journey through an ancient land
BY THE time you read this, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast will have opened one of its biggest and most exciting attractions.
Lost Valley at the National Trust's crowd-pulling sanctuary will encompass five hectares of stunning rainforest and will take visitors on a journey through the ancient supercontinent Gondwana.
Waiting in the Lost Valley will be exotic species like friendly ring-tail lemurs, cotton-top tamarin monkeys, the red panda, capybaras, free-flying birds and exotic reptiles.
The sanctuary's technical services manager and project leader for Lost Valley, Ken Spiller, was busily building cages and pens when Seniors spoke to him a fortnight before the opening on Boxing Day.
Lost Valley precinct has been designed to provide easy walking access on elevated boardwalks through the rainforest.
Visitors will be transported to an environment that existed millions of years ago, with some of the world's most unique and distinctive flora and wildlife.
"It's been a real challenge to do the Lost Valley with the limited budget ($3 million)," Ken said.
"We've pulled out tons and tons of debris, and put new plants in and modernised the area.
"We've built it out of nice materials. It's going to be awesome."
Ken began work at the sanctuary three-and-a-half years ago.
"They employed me to look after upgrades to the sanctuary," he said.
"Before that I was working at theme parks for Warner Village for 33 years.
"I was the project manager who put Movie World together."
So Ken is used to overseeing big projects and in the past has had to juggle four or five of them at the same time.
What has impressed him at the sanctuary is the high level of community involvement.
"We've got 350 full-time staff and 550 volunteers and the bulk of them are seniors," he said.
"We've had to put extra staff on to look after the new animals.
"Hopefully Lost Valley is going to bring big numbers into the park.
"Animal parks are going to do extremely well in the future."
At 64 years of age, Ken's aiming to stick around to see the success of his projects.
"I'm now working on the next improvement and that'll be a free-flight bird area," he said.
Voted one of the Gold Coast's most popular tourist destinations, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the crown jewel of the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) properties.
It's dedicated to conserving Australia's indigenous, natural and historic heritage and culture.
Open year-round from 8am to 5pm daily (excluding Anzac Day and Christmas Day), Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is at 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin.