Australia is different than the rest of the world. It has more things that can kill you than anywhere else, according to author of In A Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson. It is comprised of six states and two territories, which each have their own culture, climate and plants. The most unique part of the country is its wildlife, and a visit to Brisbane Koala Sanctuary in Queensland takes you up close and personal with some of its most famous marsupials (and more!)
Lone Pine Facts
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located in the adorably named Fig Tree Pocket, a small suburb of Brisbane. It is open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM. You can purchase tickets online for a 10% discount, or pay $38 AUD per adult and $22 AUD per child ages 3-13 at the gate. It is the oldest and largest koala sanctuary, but it has so much more than just koalas to share! You can easily spend an entire day here, so narrowing down must-do activities is key. Here are my five favorite from my time there!
Cuddle a Koala
Lone Pine is a unique Brisbane koala sanctuary that allows the public to “cuddle” with koalas. Only three states in the country allow you to hold the marsupials (Queensland, South and Western Australia), and it is a controversial practice. Most of my experiences with animals while I travel are in the wild.
But when deciding on what to do during our time in Brisbane, I knew we had to find a place to see koalas. With only five days in the country before heading off to New Zealand, there was no guarantee we would see them in the wild. And I had never seen one before!
After reading up on their cuddling practices I made a personal decision that I felt comfortable holding one. Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary are well taken care of. Although you are allowed to hold them for photo-ops, there are very strict rules surrounding this. Their 130 koalas are constantly being rotated, as they are only allowed 30 minutes of human cuddles a day. They also have a great work schedule, with every third day off. And if they don’t like you, you will get a different koala to cuddle.
Holding a koala was a cool experience, but I found it even cooler to walk around the park and watch the koalas do their thing amongst eucalyptus leaves. I watched a koala climb through trees, saw three sleeping together on a branch, and breathed in the fresh smell of their habitat. Koalas are definitely the stars at this Brisbane Koala Sanctuary!
*Truthful Travel Tip:
You do not have to pay an extra fee to stand next to a koala held by a keeper. A $25 AUD fee applies if you would like to hold the koala and get a professional photo taken. However, there are designated hours for visiting the koalas (11-11:30 AM and 1:30-2 PM) whereas you can hold a koala throughout the day, starting at 9:30 AM.
Roam with Kangaroos
One of the most fun areas at Lone Pine is the Kangaroo Reserve. There you can interact with, and feed, kangaroos and wallabies. There are “human-free” areas within the 5 hectare area, so whenever the kangaroos need some space they can have it.
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We purchased “roo food” ($2/bag) from the sanctuary’s store, and headed over to the free-range enclosure. Our first encounter was with an emu, followed shortly after by a shy wallaby. And then we met the kangaroos!
The kangaroos are quite interactive and seemed much calmer than I expected. The more I looked at them the more they reminded me of deer. We spent over an hour meeting new kangaroo friends. I sat with some in the grass, fed some sitting beneath trees and even got to see a baby ‘roo nursing from its mother. With our two bags of food we spent almost an hour walking around the enclosure. It was a special experience to say the least!
*Truthful Travel Tip:
Purchase the “roo food” when you enter the park, as the store is on the way to the kangaroo reserve. The bags are pretty big & full, but you may want to buy a bag for each individual so that everyone can have their own experience with the kangaroos!
Watch sheep dogs in action
To be completely honest, I came mainly to see the dogs. I had no idea how entertaining and educational the demonstration would be! At 11 AM, 1 & 3 PM, you can learn the history of sheep herding in Australia and watch dogs herding sheep through various obstacles. The dogs in the show are actual working dogs!
We had the luck of watching a puppy in training, as well as two older and established dogs. There was a border collie as well as two kelpies (one being the puppy!) and they entranced the crowd by fitting a huge herd of sheep into tight spaces, with usually little to no stragglers left behind. The show was short enough to keep the audience’s attention and the handler had funny commentary the entire time.
My favorite part (and probably a kid’s favorite part!) was after the show. We were allowed to meet the the stars of the show- the dogs. The dogs were patient with all of the attention and seemed happy to meet new people.
*Truthful Travel Tip:
Arrive early to snag some seats at the very front. There are only a few rows of long benches, and if you are stuck in the back the view of the show may be obstructed. We arrived about 30 minutes early, and not only did we get front row seats, the handler was preparing with the dogs beforehand and we got to see a whole extra “show”.
Visit Aussie Animals
The rest of the sanctuary is home to some of Australia’s famous creatures. There are habitats where you can observe the animals in their natural settings, that are complemented by daily animal keeper talks and some demonstrations.
The animals are dispersed throughout the koala exhibits, of which there are many. Some of my favorites were the platypus, the bats and the dingoes. The platypus is one of the strangest marsupials I have seen, and the one that I had a chance to see swimming was much smaller than I had imagined it would be. There is a daily keeper talk everyday at 2:30 PM. Bats are fascinating, but I was more excited than I would usually be because Lone Pine is home to flying foxes. Earlier in the week I had seen many of them hanging out in the trees of Queensland’s forests, but now I had a chance to see them up close. The dingoes looked just like dogs! Although their habitat is quite small for a roaming creature, they have walks around the park.
Some other animals you can see include wombats, echidnas, cockatoos, kookaburras, freshwater crocodiles and the well-known Tasmanian devil.
*Truthful Travel Tip:
Keep your eyes open throughout the park, as there is wildlife outside of the confines of habitats. Australian brush turkeys roam the park, and as we sat at a park picnic table we came across an Eastern water dragon who was bigger than any other lizard I’ve seen, as well as a smaller type of lizard. These are also natives to Australia and cool to see!
Relax amongst eucalyptus trees and nature
Something about this Brisbane Koala Sanctuary is so relaxing and I think that has to do with being surrounded by the smell of eucalyptus leaves. There are many areas throughout the park, and just outside of it, to relax and enjoy nature.
You can sit quietly and observe the many different koalas in their habitats or you can hang out in shaded hammocks as the breeze from the river cools you off. There is WIFI throughout the park, and while I believe it’s best to enjoy experiences without being connected, you can always end your day posting pictures to make your friends and family jealous, all the while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of an Australian forest.
*Truthful Travel Tip:
Instead of driving or busing to this attraction, add some more relaxation to your day by arriving by river boat! Although this is not something we did, I can imagine how cool it would be to see the sanctuary from a unique point of view. Mirimar Cruises offer two options, a 75 minute tour or a high-speed 35 minute ride. The port is located right near the park’s entrance!
*BONUS: Explore Brisbane
You can explore Brisbane at the end of a day at Lone Pine because of its close proximity. While there are endless things to do in the city, some of my favorites were visiting Southbank and having the world’s best mushroom burger at Ribs & Burgers (ironically!).
Lone Pine is the perfect destination for families and animal lovers. Visiting the park will ensure that during your visit to Australia, you get to spend koala-ty time with some of the world’s most unique and most famous animals!
Enjoy the sanctuary!
A Truthful Traveler