I finally made it to Australia Zoo, which is the zoo owned by the Irwin family just north of Brisbane.
I was presented with several options of things I could do to celebrate becoming a year older and wiser, and I picked Australia zoo. In a car it takes about an hour or so, depending what side of Brisbane you’re coming from I suppose. There is a shuttle bus from Beerwah station, so you can do it by public transport too.
Australia zoo first opened as Beerwah reptile park in 1970, then owned by Steve Irwin’s parents. Since then it has expanded several times and is now owned and run by Steve’s widow and their children.
It is massive (around 100 acres or 40 hectares). We didn’t get to do the whole place, but I saw most of the stuff that interested me.
I spent a lot of the day in the Australian section…
The show at the Crocoseum was good. In a bit of good timing this was the first day that the show was done by the Irwin family themselves. First (daughter) Bindi comes on and sings (CDs available in the gift shop folks) then some big birds flutter round and then Terri, Bindi and Robert come out and we get a lot of information about crocs (the animal not the shoe) and watch a man risking life and limb to feed it. It was much better than I’m making it sound.
I missed the otter show; it was just too crowded. The otters get very active apparently, which would explain why when I went to see them at the end of the day they were curled up asleep.
I also missed Asia, but it had been a long day and I saw enough of Asia whilst I was living there. The tiger show is supposed to be good though.
There is an excellent koala sanctuary a lot closer to town, called Lone Pine. It is much, much smaller than Australia zoo obviously but they have most of the Australian animals there, specialising in Koalas. You can hold a koala and get some photos taken for around AUS$20 at Lone Pine.
They did the same sort of thing at Australia zoo but it was much more expensive (you got longer with the animal and the keeper and a lot more information and such thrown in for your money though). Those kind of things were mostly booked up in advance at Australia zoo as well, so you needed to plan ahead.
In a way I preferred Lone Pine, because it was a lot smaller and felt more ‘manageable’. Because it was less busy you could go and spend time with the animals without fighting for space with everyone else.
That said Australia zoo was pretty amazing. The animals looked well cared for and had lots of space, the staff looked happy (genuinely happy as opposed to Disney’s been-told-to-smile-no-matter-what happy) and they do have the most amazing collection of animals.
As a bonus, the area around the zoo is good to explore too, but you need your own transport.