Located just 15 minutes from the CBD, you’ll find Ballarat Bird World. But don’t let its name fool you, there is more to this popular sanctuary than first meets the eye.
Let us introduce you to Paul, his wife Lisa and their son, Daniel – second generation owners of Ballarat Bird World. We spoke to them about their exciting new plans for the sanctuary over the next 12 months.
What’s the story behind Ballarat Bird World?
Paul’s parents, Paul and Joan Sperber, bought the land in 1974 because they had a large bird collection which they dreamt of displaying to the public. With the help of their two sons, Paul and Edward, and Joan’s brother, Bob, the Bird Park was built and opened in 1992. Joan sadly passed away in 2016 but Paul’s father, now 92 years old, still retains his passion for birds and loves to talk to people visiting the tourist park.
How many birds can you find at the sanctuary today?
There are close to 200 birds at Ballarat Bird World.
Do you think there is a crowd favourite?
The Red-tailed Black-cockatoo would be our most popular bird on display as we offer a fantastic photo opportunity with them. It’s not every day that you can have a Red-tailed Black-cockatoo sit on your shoulder!
You’ve started introducing moving dinosaurs to the park, tell us what inspired this decision?
We had always wanted to introduce something else to the park, so approximately five years ago we began to investigate the possibility of making animatronic dinosaurs.
Having both birds and dinosaurs provides an interest for a wider range of people.
What dinosaurs can visitors expect to see?
You can see a baby Triceratops and Archaeopteryx (the first dinosaur bird fossil ever found) were introduced in January 2019 and we have just put our full-sized Triceratops on display.
Paul has now started work on a small T‐Rex and we will probably build a few small dinosaurs (which aren’t so scary for the smaller children) before tackling a full-sized one again.
We also hear you plan to introduce a fossil dig and a dinosaur skeleton?
Next year we would like to build a fossil dig so children can uncover a dinosaur skeleton. In other words, try their hand at being an archaeologist.
We would also like to have an area with some full-sized dinosaur bones scattered around.
You make these moving dinosaurs yourself Paul, can you talk us through this process?
With a background in the automotive industry and an interest in computer programming, I was fortunate to be able to call on that knowledge to build the animatronic dinosaurs myself.
It took many years of sourcing materials and products and a lot of trial and error before building the finished dinosaurs you see today.
Probably the hardest part though was in the final painting and getting the colours right. I have a new respect for artists and what they can achieve through colour.
What do you think your visitors enjoy most about Ballarat Bird World?
This is a very hard question to answer as it depends on what age group you ask. Some people would say the black cockatoos and the photo opportunity whilst others prefer the smaller birds and their amazing colours, particularly in the free flight aviary.
“Mitchell”, our talking Major Mitchell cockatoo, has a following of his own and loves to entertain the children. Our waterfalls and raised walkway are popular with the older generations and so far we have had good feedback on our new animatronic dinosaurs.