When it comes to promoting Flying High Bird Park at Apple Tree Creek the new owners Ian and Tanya Dodds let their birds do the talking.
From the moment “Chopper”, the chatty Major Mitchell cockatoo screeches a very audible welcome to the time “Spud”, the Quaker Parakeet lands on your shoulder to nibble your ear, you’re hooked on an amazing experience.
Ian and Tanya, fresh from the shores of Vanuatu are rising to the challenge of reinventing Flying High Bird Park with an injection of passion, clever ideas and, of course, money.
The couple purchased the business and its bevy of feathered beauties around five months ago and have immediately set about redesigning and reinvigorating what had become a rather dated visitor attraction.
“We have known about this place since the original owners. My wife could see the potential – I could see the work load,” laughed Ian.
The couple are no strangers to zoo-style experiences having established a successful zoo during their seven years in the South Pacific on the island of Vanuatu.
Ian, born on the Darling Downs, has thrown himself and his family into the project.
“These days attractions like this are drawing international visitors and you need to give them an experience that meets contemporary international standards.
“We haven’t started any advertising yet because we know we are not quite there yet although we do have plenty of people still coming to enjoy what is here.”
Flying High Bird Park gets a makeover
The Dodds have started with a redesign of the entry way which is much more imposing and with its greenery and openness provides an inviting glimpse of what lays inside.
The ongoing construction is obvious, with mounds of soil and a bobcat busy shaping future enclosures and facilities.
“A coffee shop/food outlet is a must given the time frame visitors can expect to spend in exploring the Park. We will also have a pet shop area and have various grains for sale at wholesale prices,” said Ian.
A new enclosure has been constructed to house the rainbow lorikeets. A new walkway and “cave” entrance under a small waterfall that feeds into a pond also provides a refreshing touch to the park entryway.
Ian is a passionate conservationist and free educational programs are high on the list of priorities once the park is fully operational.
“Our time in Vanuatu really showed us the importance of conservation and protecting the environment.
“We do occasionally get environmentalists come in here and criticise us for having birds in cages. I can show them between 20 and 30 species with which we are conducting successful breeding programs. Some of these birds simply do not exist in the wild,” he said.
Ian said the new Flying High Bird Park design will minimise the use of wire. “In some of the top international parks you do not see a piece of wire. Ramps and viewing platforms can negate the need for wire enclosures if you are looking down on a display.”
Tiah loves working at Flying High Bird Park
Staff member Tiah Hayes is a great advertisement for Flying High Bird Park.
Vibrant, chatty and knowledgeable, Tiah has a great enthusiasm and obvious love for her job and the birds and animals in her care.
“We are really working hard to create something special. There is such a diversity of animals with the South African ostrich chicks, Cape Barren geese, emu, kangaroos, brolgas and an incredible assortment of bird life.”
We paused for a moment as a friendly cockatiel fluttered down and perched squarely on Tiah’s head. Not missing a beat, she explained that the park would transform into a venue of which the whole region could be proud.
“Everyone here is passionate about the birds in our care. “Hoot”, the Tawny Frogmouth, is a survivor from a collision with a car.
“He’s blind in one eye and has lost a wing but is a much-loved inclusion to the feathered family we have here,” said Tiah.
Ian and Tanya have a long-term vision for Flying High Bird Park.
“Even though it was initially established in 1998 we don’t feel it has ever reached its potential.
“I think once we are really up and running it could be beneficial to look at things like a Visitor Pass to allow tourists to visit a number of local attractions in the Childers area,” said Ian.
The couple welcome visitors to their property with the costs of entry assisting with the upgrade and superior facilities for the birds. “It also helps cover the cost of feeding our birds,” said Tanya.
Put Flying High Bird Park on your list of ‘must-see’ local attractions. Really – it’s a hoot!