While seeing a koala in the wild in Australia is quite a mission, you’re rarely far away from a zoo, wildlife park or sanctuary. You’d think that after visiting WILD LIFE Sydney and Featherdale Wildlife Park, I’d be starting to tire of gawping at koalas and wombats, but that, my friends, will never happen. When visiting Brisbane, a visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a must. Of all the wildlife parks, this allows you to spend more time up close to our favourite drop bear.
Koalas in particular have such distinct personalities and facial expressions that every encounter is special in its own unique way. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary also offers something that many of the other parks do not – the chance to hold a koala.
GETTING TO LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
Open from 9 to 5 seven days a week, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located on the outskirts of Brisbane. It’s only a short drive (13 km) from the city centre (buses 430 and 445 will drop you off at the entrance), but the more scenic option is to take the Mirimar River Cruise, which departs from the Cultural Centre Pontoon at 10 am every day except ANZAC Day and Christmas Day.
MAKE IT PART OF A BIGGER ADVENTURE
Brisbane is one of the stops on the fantastic BEACHES AND REEFS tour run by Contiki. This two-week trip is filled with fun and adventure and includes surfing, kayaking, skydiving, bungy jumps, scuba diving, a dracula show, barn dance karaoke, whip cracking, overnight sailing, plenty of parties and, of course, plenty of opportunities to become more familiar with Australia’s native animals.
FOLLOW AUSTRALIA’S EAST COAST WITH CONTIKI…
AND HAVE NO REGRETS!
HOLD A KOALA
Probably the highlight of any visitor’s day at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is having the chance to ‘cuddle’ a koala. You will be asked to place your hands close to your stomach with the palms facing upwards. Once the koala is resting comfortably, it will lean its body against you and place its arms on your shoulders. You can actually do this for free, but you will not receive the official photograph or be allowed to take any of your own unless you pay $16. The proceeds go back into helping the koalas through research projects and the construction of new enclosures.
As these animals have been rescued and rehabilitated, they have been used to human interaction from an early age; however, the staff are very careful to ensure that each individual is only handled for 30 minutes per day and not at all if it seems restless.
It’s great fun feeding the wallabies and kangaroos, especially if you go on a weekday when there are fewer visitors and the animals are more responsive. Try to hold your hand at the right angle and height for them to reach with their front paws and they’ll hold onto you while they eat. Also make sure you take a selfie with one of them, but be prepared to get ambushed by other kangaroos and quite possibly some ducks in the process.
One of the craziest experiences at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is being among the lorikeets when they come to feed. The sudden appearance of food signals a frenzy of colourful feathers and, in the mad dash, many of the birds will choose to land on your head.
It’s great fun, but beware that with so many birds flying overhead, you’re taking a massive gamble on your clothes and hair being dropping-free when you leave…
It is also possible to sign up for VIP encounters with koalas, reptiles, birds of prey or dingoes. If you fancy holding a baby saltwater crocodile, this is the place for you.
As well as pre-booked animal encounters, there are plenty of talks and information sessions taking place throughout the day. These include bird of prey flight shows, sheep dog shows and sheep shearing, snake, platypus, Tasmanian devil and koala presentations, and the chance to feed kangaroos, wallabies and wild lorikeets.
The koala presentation is very interesting and informative, including one snippet of information that might turn your stomach unexpectedly!
Apparently, up until the early 1990s, visitors to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary who took the scenic ferry were greeted on arrival by a koala riding on a German shepherd’s back! It’s definitely worth a Google image search.
A visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary costs $33 for adults, $22 for children and $24 for students, pensioners or seniors. There is also a backpacker rate of $28 if you have a valid YHA or VIP membership card. If you’re spending a lot of time in Brisbane and know you’ll be taking all your friends and family when they come to visit, you could save a lot of money with an annual pass. The friend who took me had been there nine times already, which really sums up how great an experience it is.