Located less than two hours outside of Atlanta, the Kangaroo Conservation Center in Dawsonville is one of Georgia’s most unexpected and unusual attractions. Most Atlantans probably are unaware that the largest population of kangaroos outside of Australia is right here in Georgia! There are up to 200 kangaroos on the grounds, from six different species. While it is currently closed to the public, interested parties are encouraged to check the park’s web site for an announcement as to when it will re-open.
While the Kangaroo Conservation Center is closed to the public, you may decide to take a longer trip to see the marsupials on their home turf. Sure, you could hit up the major zoos in Melbourne or Sydney, but for an up-close encounter a bit off the beaten path, you may wish to travel to Bicheno, Tasmania, to the East Coast Natureworld. Here, you can feed kangaroos by hand, and you can pet real-life Tasmanian devils.
Wombats, koalas, wallabies — they’re all on display here, and the cheerful staff are eager to share their knowledge and obvious affection for the creatures with visitors. There is even a Devils’ Den cafe featuring locally-brewed espresso if feeding the animals makes you hungry for a snack yourself. The Nocturnal World exhibit allows a peek into the habits of animals such as Sugar Gliders, Bettongs, and Bandicoots, who normally wouldn’t be active during the day. Finally, the bird house allows visitors the chance to walk among brilliantly colored parrots, cockatoos, and other exotic feathered friends.
From Atlanta, Delta Airlines flies to Melbourne (with a stop in Los Angeles), and several local airlines fly inexpensively from Melbourne to either Launceston or Hobart in Tasmania. You also have the option of taking a ferry, but the ride is long, not particularly scenic, and can be rough, so the flight is the simpler method of transport. From either city, it is less than 200 km by car to Bicheno and Natureworld.