Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – A Family Favorite Attraction in Australia
A trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without seeing koalas and kangaroos. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane is touted as the “world’s first and largest koala sanctuary” with about 130 koalas plus 40 baby joeys and over 100 Australian native animals. Visiting Lone Pine last summer (their winter) was memorable and a travel highlight for our family. See our 5 favorite things about this special place and why we highly recommend it to everyone visiting the area.
1. Koala Cuddling
This was the activity we were most looking forward to doing. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located near Brisbane in the state of Queensland, which is one of the Australian states that hasn’t banned koala cuddling. However, koalas can only be cuddled for 30 minutes or less, and each one has every third day off. They are on a strict schedule here.
Everyone was allowed to hold the koala for free. Souvenir photos taken by their photographer had to be bought in order for us to take as many photos as we wanted with our own cameras and mobile devices.
It was surprising to find that their fur wasn’t very soft and the males had a distinct scent. We could have held that koala all day; it was such an incredible and unforgettable experience.
We loved the various enclosures to observe the koalas up close with no fences separating us from them. There were also keeper talks to learn more about koalas throughout the day. Did you know koalas sleep 18-20 hours per day? We felt lucky to catch many of them awake.
2. Kangaroo Feeding
We had never seen so many kangaroos and wallabies in one place than at the five-acre Lone Pine reserve. For $2 per bag, everyone can feed the animals roaming in the open field. We spent most of our time here feeding and posing with them. The two rules were: (1) Don’t touch the babies or joeys (moms are very protective) and (2) Hold your hands down flat and low while feeding.
My kids could have spent the whole day here. The kangaroos and wallabies were so docile that even toddlers enjoyed feeding them. We enjoyed seeing the babies peak out from their mothers’ pouches. There were also pigeons and ducks here fighting for food. Just know that there were plenty of feces on the ground with all the animals here so wear closed-toe shoes and watch your step.
3. Lorikeet Feeding
These loud, bright birds caught our attention and were the first exhibit we witnessed during their feeding time. Lorikeets are unique and colorful Australian parrots. The staff filled up bird feeders with nectar mixes and handed them to visitors. It was a chaotic scene as the lorikeets frantically jumped from one feeder to another. They also jumped on people’s heads and arms. It was certainly a fun way to start our day.
4. Sheep Dog Show
We enjoyed watching the Australian Sheep Dog Show where two outback sheep dogs herded many sheep through platforms, around a field and into a corral. There were three daily shows and the last two included sheep shearing demonstrations. It was amazing to see a professional sheer an adorable sheep so fast. The soft wool was laid out afterwards for us to feel. The kids even got to pet a very large sheep.
5. Australian Animal Viewing
This is also a great place to see Australia’s native animals but with a more intimate feel than a zoo. Some of them we’d never seen before. We saw wombats known as “nature’s bulldozers,” the flightless Southern Cassowary (Australia’s heaviest bird and largest land animal), platypus and the laughing kookaburra known as a “bushman’s alarm clock.” We enjoyed watching the Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, during feeding time and was quite a sight to see.
- Getting here: We took the 50-minute bus from downtown Brisbane. There’s also a cruise down the river via Mirimar Cruises but the tour only includes 2 1/2 hours at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
- Plan your day with the show and activity schedule once you enter. Check the Lone Pine website for the latest shows, information and ticket prices.
- Bring plenty of wipes, or hand sanitizer, even hand washing stations are available.
- There’s a small cafeteria here but bring your own snacks and water to minimize costs. Picnic areas are available.
We stayed at Hilton Brisbane with an excellent location in the downtown area near all the major attractions and transportation hubs.
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Know Before You Go
- Purchase an Opal Card for the best public transportation experience. The Opal Card is valid in Sydney, The Blue Mountains, Central Coast, The Hunter, and the Illawarra.
- Flinders in Melbourne is famous for its street art. Wayward Wanders offers tours throughout the area.
- For walking, the Bondi to Bronte route is one of the best in Sydney. It is only four miles long and moves past cliffs, beaches, and has a beautiful view of the ocean.