Wildlife Conservationist, Somersby
As the owner, manager and director of the Australian Reptile Park for the past 15 years, a day in the life of Tim Faulkner can include anything from feeding a saltwater crocodile, cosying up to a koala, to milking a funnel web spider.
Dedicating his life to wildlife education and conservation, Tim runs the day-to-day operations of the park, has appeared in television series such as Bondi Vet and Outback Adventures with Tim Faulkner, and contributes to the conservation of the Tasmanian devil as president of Aussie Ark sanctuary, for which he was named Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year in 2015.
We chat to this remarkable local animal conservationist about what he loves most about living on the Central Coast...
What do you love most about the Coast?
“Our national parks and beautiful beaches, the Central Coast is a gem of place. There are lots of nature-based things to see and explore, like waterfalls that you can stand under or walking in huge coastal woodlands. I love just being outdoors in the wild."
You’re not originally from the Central Coast – what brought you here?
Plain and simple – the Australian Reptile Park. I was born and bred in Western Sydney and, at the time, very reluctantly left that community and family to move to the Central Coast to be closer to the Reptile Park and the rest is history. We just fell in love with the Coast. My family and I have lived between Avoca, Wamberal and Terrigal for the last 15 years now, so safe to say it's our home
What do you love most about the Coast?
For me, the biggest appeal is nature-based things to do right on my doorstep such as our wonderful national parks, fishing spots and beaches. From the Somersby Plateau, Girrakool loop track, to Strickland State Forest in Ourimbah to Bouddi National Park’s coastal eucalypt woodland, there's lots of wild and nature-based things for my family.
The Central Coast now has ECO Destination status – do you have local tips for travellers to explore our region sustainably?
Do your due diligence and ensure the businesses that are invested in conservation, sustainability, and ecotourism. There are so many wonderful ECO Certified businesses out there doing the right thing at the moment and they are the ones we all should be supporting!
Tell us what makes the Australian Reptile Park so special?
The Australian Reptile Park has a heart and soul, history and culture centred around delivering quality wildlife tourism to the highest degree. We are a vibrant organisation that believes in family fun and a fundamental, innate desire of humans to connect with nature and wildlife. There is nothing that beats seeing a child meet their first wombat or watching an adult overcome their fear of snakes – it just makes me realise all the blood, sweat and tears are worth it. We also save endangered species through our charity Aussie Ark and saving 300 Australian lives a year through our antivenom program, it really is such a rewarding place to work – and visit!
What is your go-to outdoors experience?
Any of our beautiful national parks! One of my favourites to take my boys to is Bouddi National Park. So many great walks and lookouts plus some of the Coast’s best hidden beaches.
Where is the first place you’d take your guest when they visit the Coast?
The Reptile Park! Aside from the obvious, I take them to beautiful Terrigal. The gorgeous beach, the beautiful vista from The Skillion and the food – such a gem of a place!
Where is your favourite spot for a morning coffee?
Bellyfish at Terrigal. Grabbing a coffee then walking along the Terrigal Boardwalk while watching the surfers catching waves at sunrise is just unbeatable.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Do you have a hidden secret you'd be willing to share?
People must remember the Central Coast is not small. From the Watagan Mountains to Wiseman’s Ferry, the Peninsula to Norah Head, it’s a big place with so many hidden secrets! But for me, without a doubt, Somersby Falls is a favourite spot. Most people just hang around the waterfall, but if you head downstream, around 15-20 minutes (a bit of a hop, skip and a jump), there’s another beautiful waterfall where the water goes over your head and you can stand inside a cave behind the waterfall – it’s something that not many know about!
Describe a typical weekend day on the Central Coast for you
My family and I are generally always spending time outdoors. We always start the day with a bike ride or a skate at Bato Yard Skate Park in Bateau Bay, then we head to soccer. Usually, afternoons are filled with a swim or surf down at the beach – it’s hard to choose a favourite between Terrigal, Wamberal and Avoca. Or depending on the time of year we might take a bushwalk instead. And generally, always a beer in the backyard with good friends to end a weekend day!
This article was written by locals Megan Arkinstall, with photography by James Horan and videography by Blake Wilton, as part of the Central Coast region's inspiring local community supported by Love Central Coast.