When you live in Australia and friends and family visit usually the first thing they want to do is either cuddle a koala or pet a kangaroo. I’ve been to Australia Zoo more times than I count due to the legend of “The Crocodile Hunter”, Steve Irwin and now his daughter Bindi's fame spreading to the rest of the world via Dancing With The Stars. It must be the same for people who live near Disney World or Times Square in New York. Great to visit a couple of times, not so much the eight, ninth and tenth times.
This week I had a friend visiting from the States and I was surprised when she suggested we spend the day at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Doing some research I found that Lone Pine actually ranks as #2 on TripAdvisor and it’s really affordable. Adults are $32.50 and kids (under 13) are $19.80 if you book online. They also offer discounted family passes.
Where is it?
Lone Pine is located 15 minutes by car from Brisbane City. You can also get here by public transport from Brisbane. Bus number 430 from Queen Street Station and bus number 445 from Wickham Tce stop 158 are your easiest options. Check out Tanslink’s website for help planning your trip and fare information while in Brisbane.
What can I see and do?
Lone Pine is the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world. Here you can learn all about these super cute animals and get a chance to take a picture with them or even hold them and have a cuddle session.
Lone Pine houses 130 koalas that live in different exhibits around the sanctuary, according to their age and gender. These homes include the “Boys”, the “Kindergarten” and the “Retirement Home” where the oldies go for a more quiet and relaxed lifestyle. These areas are spread out throughout the sanctuary so there’s always a koala nearby.
There are two koala talks on during the day (at 12 pm and 2 pm) so that you can learn more about the koalas and get a chance to learn how you can help them thrive in the wild.
At 1 pm there is an opportunity to get a picture with your own camera for a small donation of your choice. Get there early as the line can be quite long but does go quickly. If you want a more hands-on experience then you can opt for a professional photo session. Starting from $18, you can hold a koala and get a professional shot to take home with you.
Almost sharing the spotlight with the koalas are the kangaroos. Lone Pine has a large kangaroo and wallaby free-roaming reserve. You can walk amongst the kangaroos, pat them and even feed them. Make sure to pick up a bag of kangaroo food from the cafe for $2. With some of these pellets you will quickly become the most popular human around!
There are also a few emus wandering around that are very friendly. One was almost a little too friendly and went snooping around my handbag!
On my day trip to Lone Pine I easily spent a couple of hours hanging out in the Kangaroo Reserve. If you’re travelling with kids it will be hard to pry them away to visit the other animals!
Top Tip: If you're heading to Sydney you can also have some fun animal opportunities at Taronga Zoo, which is also on the water with great views of Sydney Harbour.
Other Australian wildlife that you can see at Lone Pine include tasmanian devils, snakes, perentie (Australia’s largest lizard) wombats and dingoes. On my visit I was extremely lucky to be able to visit the snake exhibit right after they were fed. I got an eye-opening experience of a snake slowly devouring a baby chicken. if this is your thing, then make sure to ask one of the staff what time they’ll be fed.
There are also platypus in the same area and I know from experience how tough they are to spot in the wild so make sure to check out these cute little guys while you’re here.
Did you know?
Lone Pine was home to a special koala named Sarah until 2001. Sarah made it into the Guinness Book of Records for being the world’s longest lived koala.
There are several shows on during the day including a raptor show, platypus feed and keeper presentations and a sheep dog show. Have a look at the schedule before you visit and make sure to pick your must-sees. Try to arrive 5 minutes early to get the best seats!
For a more hands-on animal encounter you should participate in the wild lorikeet feeding and the barn animal encounter experiences. These are great for little and big kids. Imagine being surrounded by these cute colourful birds while you are used as a tree while they eat.
The raptor show lets you see these grand birds in action. You get to learn about them and their hunting habits and also have a few close call fly overs. Sit up the front for the chance to feed an owl yourself. Not for the fainthearted though!
There is free wifi available all around the sanctuary but it is fastest near the cafe. You can also find charging ports near the cafe in the Blogger’s Lounge which is very useful when you’re battery is dying after too many kangaroo selfies!
The General Store is where you can buy kangaroo food, cafe-style meals and snacks, coffee and cold drinks. There are gluten free and vegetarian options available. For something more something substantial, though, and a much better view, the Riverside Cafe is located just outside the sanctuary but still on the grounds. There are picnic tables and a bbq there if you want to self cater. Just make sure to get a stamp from the gift shop at the exit so you can come back in.
There are excellent toilet facilities through the sanctuary that are kept super clean. My only critique is that I couldn’t find any water fountains to fill up my water bottle but the water is safe to drink in Australia so I just used the tap from the restrooms.
One great feature that I noticed are the child-height view points in most of the exhibits. If you have a little one they should be able to get their own unique insights into each of the animal habitats. I also used these to get some great ground level photos.
- The life expectancy of a wild koala is 8 to 10 years whilst captive koalas can live 12 to 15 years.
- Male koalas generally have a shorter lifespan than females.
- Male koalas are also larger than females. An adult male koala weighs between 7 and 14 kilograms whilst females usually weigh between 6 and 11 kilograms.
- Each koala’s hand print is unique, just like our fingerprints.
- Koalas first and second toes are fused together on their hind paws and there are two claws on this toe. They use this claw like a little comb to clean themselves.
Open 7 days a week
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Address: 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket, Qld 4069 Australia
Phone: +61 7 3378 1366
You can pre-purchase tickets online and save 10% (no code needed): http://www.koala.net/product-category/day-passes/