Hop along to Coffs Harbour’s newest attraction
A lifelong passion, and a 10-year battle to secure the appropriate licence, will culminate in the grand opening of Australia's first ever Frogarium, right here in Coffs Harbour.
Housed in the large three-tiered pavilion on the grounds of Bonville's Garden Mania nursery it will open to the public on Thursday.
Peter Johnson has been breeding frogs for almost 40 years.
"Because I have so many of them, people would come to my house to look at them all," Peter said.
"The kids grew up with people always coming around to see them so it gave me that desire to open a zoo but I didn't realise it would be such a bloody hassle."
He says most frogs are cannibalistic but now with opening day approaching, he's carefully separating them into tanks in preparation for the holiday crowds he hopes to welcome through the doors.
"At the moment we have about 600 adults and about 25 different species, some of which are highly endangered.
"With 600 mouths to feed it's becoming a bit ridiculous. They eat mostly crickets, meal worms and flies so we're in the process of building a food breeding facility."
Peter is the only person who has ever managed to breed the Giant Barred Frog in captivity.
It sprays its eggs on the roofs of caves, where they cannot touch water until the tadpole forms.
Visitors to the Frogarium will also be able to see the beautiful Green and Golden Bell Frog that so famously disrupted construction of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games village after its discovery in a quarry on the site. He was one of the first to notice and report the decline of these frogs in the early 1980s.
Assisting him in the venture is zoologist Jacqui Forest.
"It's been a lifelong interest ever since I conducted some field work on frogs and they stole my heart," Jacqui said.
"They're so beautiful and a really great indicator of the environmental health of an area."
The Frogarium opens this week. It will be open Thursday through to Sunday, for tour bookings only, by phoning 0403 252 348. Tours are every hour from 11am with the last tour at 4pm.