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Byron Shire
October 2, 2022

Banned bunnies

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Did you know that pet bunnies are banned in Queensland? But not in New South Wales!

We’ve all seen the sign at Tugun and, probably, laughed. Given that, according to police, border closures massively reduce the flow of both drugs and criminals entering NSW from Qld, it seems weird for them to be so uptight about our floppy-eared friends heading north.

In fact, Queensland has the toughest anti-rabbit regime in the world. In Queensland, a rabbit is considered a ‘restricted invasive animal’ under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Anyone found illegally keeping rabbits can be issued with an on-the-spot fine of $2,200. The maximum penalty for keeping rabbits in Queensland is $44,000.

Apparently, numerous e-petitions have been circulating over the years, with many Qld owners even trying to palm their rabbits off as ‘long-eared guinea pigs’ to avoid fines!

Of course, young kids love patting bunnies, so to indulge them Macadamia Castle (the interactive animal park between Byron and Ballina) has some seriously adorable bunnies, just waiting to be cuddled! They have grey bunnies, black and white bunnies, floppy-eared bunnies, dwarf bunnies, baby bunnies, the list goes on! And, no problems about biosecurity here, for the safety of their crocodiles, and farmers, your children and the bunnies are kept safely at a distance.

Our children loved the castle when they were younger, especially playing on the flying fox and feeding the animals, and on a recent visit we found, a bit to my surprise, that we still all enjoyed it, especially the mini-golf and a nostalgic ride on the mini train. There was even an exciting bit where ‘something’ escaped and four blokes with nets on long poles executed what looked like a well-rehearsed recapture. There are talks by the keepers, waterplay, train rides, two playgrounds, a cafe serving their legendary pancakes, and over 150 animals including kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles and snakes!

The lockdown across Greater Sydney, as well as the border closure between NSW and Qld has dramatically affected the Byron Bay Tourism and Hospitality industry, including The Macadamia Castle. Now that the clouds, and the lockdown restrictions, have lifted, and spring is in the air, as a community it’s more important than ever for us to get out and support local. The Northern Rivers is currently COVID free, and we are still able to get out and about – so let’s do this to keep our favourite venues alive. 

‘The Macadamia Castle is open seven days a week for local families to come and enjoy our facilities. We have our Night Tours continuing in a COVID Safe environment,’ says Tony Gilding, the owner of the castle for the last 14 years. Tony has just sold the Macadamia Castle to not-for-profit Wildlife Recovery Australia (WRA), associated with the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (their mobile wildlife hospital will be run from the carpark using the castle’s solar array).

The Macadamia Castle follows all NSW regulations and recommendations to keep customers, staff and the local community safe. Staff and customers must wear masks inside The Castle, however as the animal park is outside, you may roam mask free as you wish. They continue to disinfect all regularly used surfaces, and have hygiene stations located throughout. They encourage social distancing at all times, and all people entering the castle must check in via the Service NSW app. They have also adjusted the numbers in seated and indoor spaces so as to be in line with NSW restrictions. 

All activities continue to run including the Free Flight bird show, train rides, mini golf, keeper talks and bunny petting. They are open and ready for fun! 

The Macadamia Castle is open 9am–4pm every day except Christmas Day! Bunny petting is at 10am and 1.30pm daily. Cost: Entry to The Macadamia Castle includes a full day of fun for the whole family. For prices see macadamiacastle.com.au or call 02 6687 8432

The Macadamia Castle: 419 Hinterland Way Knockrow NSW 2479.

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