The Australia Zoo, also known as “Home of the Crocodile Hunter,” is a massive 1,500-acre oasis on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
It’s home to more than one thousand native and exotic animals, including lemurs, crocodiles, elephants, rhinos, and koalas. The Australia Zoo attracts thousands of people each year because it’s not your average zoo. Instead, it’s more of a wildlife conservation center and learning experience for guests. Here, you can interact with animals, ask questions to zookeepers, visit the wildlife hospital, and watch entertaining shows.
The Australia Zoo is Steve Irwin’s legacy. When Steve passed away in 2006, his wife, Terri, and their children Bindi and Robert helped grow the zoo into what it is today. Here is your complete guide to the Australia Zoo so you can have the best experience.
History of the Australia Zoo
The Australia Zoo began as the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park in 1970. It was founded by Bob and Lynn Irwin. In its early days, it was home to native wildlife such as snakes, crocodiles, and kangaroos. Over the years, the park expanded to include more land, animals, and staff.
By 1991, Steve Irwin took over managing the zoo and, at the same time, met his wife, Terri Raines. After Steve’s parents retired, he re-named it Australia Zoo and worked to improve it. His goal was to make it the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the world.
Today, his wife and children continue Steve Irwin’s legacy at the zoo. It’s spread out over 1,500 acres and home to native and exotic animals. There’s also an onsite wildlife hospital to care for the animals and other injured wildlife outside of the zoo.
There are plenty of attractions at the Australia Zoo, and it requires a full day to experience everything. It’s home to a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
As you make your way through the zoo, be sure to visit Roo Heavens to hand-feed kangaroos! You can purchase “roo food” before entering the open range enclosure where you’ll find Red and Grey kangaroos bouncing around. Place the food in the palm of your hand, and they’ll come over to say hi!
If you continue to the Koala Walkthrough, you might spot the small grey bears sleeping in Eucalyptus trees. There’s even an opportunity to pat a koala, with a zookeeper nearby, to feel how soft they are.
Bindi’s Island is a tropical oasis for animals such as ring-tailed lemurs, giant tortoises, colorful macaws, and an alligator snapping turtle! Most animals on the island are free-roaming, so it gives you a chance to feel like you’re on a safari. Try to spot a lemur hanging in a tree! Bindi also has a three-story treehouse on the island, which provides extensive views of Australia Zoo.
For an additional cost, you can take a walk with a tiger, play with meerkats, pet an elephant or a white rhino, or hang out with otters. For the little ones, there’s the opportunity to be a zookeeper for a day where kids can help with feeding, cleaning, and making toys for the animals. Children as young as four years old can participate. There are also plenty of events that happen every month. The zoo is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2020.
How to Visit
The Australia Zoo is in Beerwah, Queensland, about one hour north of Brisbane. If you’re coming from Brisbane, you can take a Greyhound bus service directly to the zoo. There’s also a train service that runs from downtown Brisbane to Beerwah station. Once you get off at the station, there’s a free shuttle service that transfers passengers to the zoo.
The Sunshine Coast Airport is a 30-minute drive to the Australia Zoo and an excellent option if you’re coming from other parts of Australia.
Can’t Miss Exhibitions
There’re plenty of exhibits happening throughout the day at the Australia Zoo. Each day at noon there’s a Wildlife Warriors entertainment show in the Crocoseum. Yes, a Crocoseum—a stadium built around a clear water pond to help educate the public about how crocodiles live and behave in the wild. No doubt, Steve Irwin’s dream come true. The Wildlife Warriors entertainment show includes a free flight bird show and a heart-racing crocodile feeding.
The zoo also showcases the wide-open plains of the African savannah with an open range area for giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. It’s a great opportunity to watch these animals interact as if they were in the wild. You can even sign up to have your photo taken with a giraffe.
Then there’s Tiger Temple, which resembles Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It’s home to Sumatran and Bengal tigers. The temple features glass on two sides and a small grandstand for easy viewing. This gives you a chance to watch the tigers run, play, and lounge during the day. Have your camera ready for when they decide to take a dip in the pool!
What You Need to Know Before You Go
Although the zoo has a huge food court, you can bring your own lunch, snacks, and water bottle. Most of the exhibits and animals are outside, so be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, and comfortable shoes. If you get tired, Steve’s Safari Shuttle is available to transport passengers to different exhibits throughout the park.
There are also disabled parking and amenities throughout the zoo, including designated wheelchair access, ramps, and pathways. You can rent a wheelchair or motorized scooter once you get to the zoo.
The Australia Zoo provides an excellent opportunity to learn about and interact with animals from all over the world. Admission prices are AU$59 for adults and AU$35 for children ages 3-14. When you buy your ticket online or at the zoo, you can select different add-ons for animal encounters, educational programs, and tours. It’s open every day (except Christmas) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.