Visiting Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
When you think of Australia, what do you think of? I can bet that one of the first things that will pop into your mind is the Aussie wildlife. Koalas, kangaroos, emus.... Australia has an abundance of unique native animals. That's why Emmett and I were super excited to have a chance to get close and personal with some of the most iconic creatures from Down Under. Just a few days after landing in Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, we made a visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary just outside the city.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the first and oldest koala sanctuary in all of Australia. Established in 1927, Lone Pine's mission has always been to rehabilitate injured, ill, or orphaned koalas. (A very admirable cause indeed.) Not only do they rehabilitate these furry icons, but they also focus on educating the public - locals and tourists alike - about native Australian animal habits & facts. And koalas aren't the only animal you'll find at this large sanctuary - you can see and learn about dozens of other native Aussie animals there.
Here's what you'll find on a visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary....
1. Koalas, Koalas, and More Koalas (of course)!
As I mentioned before, koala rehabilitation is the number one focus of the sanctuary. Once you arrive, you can see more koalas than you'll be able to count. Koalas eating eucalyptus.,, Koalas sleeping... Koalas fighting... Koalas dropping from branches....
A lot of the koalas just go about their daily business, ignoring the human visitors, but occasionally you'll stumble upon a cheeky one who seems to be almost posing for you - like this guy:
You even have the option to pay a fee and get a professional picture taken while holding a koala OR for free, you can meet a koala and take a picture with your own device. We got to meet a super sweet, incredibly soft koala named Streudel. He apparently comes from a long line of koalas named after desserts; his Mom's name was Crumble.
2. Even More Unique Australian Wildlife.
I was really excited to see some of the other Aussie wildlife at the sanctuary. We got to look at a sleepy wombat, watch a Tasmanian devil go for a run, see a frantic platypus, and get maybe a little to close to big flightless birds like emu and cassowary. The sanctuary also has a few resident saltwater crocodiles but that area was under construction on the day we visited.
Did You Know:
Cassowary (that's the very weird looking bird with the blue neck in the bottom middle photo below) have a large natural bony protrusion on the their heads (see it?) that acts as a helmet when they push through the large dense bush of their native rainforest habitat. Not only that, but they also have razor sharp claws on their feet that could kill a human.
Lastly, they are huge birds. They can grow to be as tall as me and can weigh 125 pounds (about 60 kg).
3. Kangaroos, Up Close & Personal.
I was already super thrilled to meet a koala, so imagine my delight when I realized that I'd be able to meet and feed dozens of kangaroos at the sanctuary's free-range feeding area. We bought some food to give to the kangaroos at the sanctuary's general store. Then, we walked across the grassy meadow that made up the free-range enclosure to find ourselves face to face with kangaroos. And then we made so many kangaroo friends! (Because of the food, of course).
Know Before You Go: Kangaroos, naturally a prey animal, are docile and quiet creatures. They can be scared easily, and then could potentially harm you with a powerful kick, so be sure to always approach kangaroos in a calm fashion. Get near to them while extending your hand full of food, then let them approach you.
4. The Bizzare (and Often Hilarious) Wall of Celeb + Koala Photos.
When you visit Lone Pine's General Store - whether it's to grab some 'roo food or some food & souvenirs for yourself - you'll discover the gallery of celeb + koala photos. Featuring a mixed bag of celebrities ranging from Pope John Paul II to Grover to Tim McGraw, this gallery was one of Emmett's favorite parts of the day. It's a weird and entertaining glimpse into some of the celebrities who have visited Lone Pine over the years.
5. Australian Sheep Dog Demonstrations
Sheep farming is a big industry in Australia. In fact, as of 2014, there are over 71 million sheep in Australia! For that reason, sheep dogs have been a big part of Australian culture since the colonial era. (Quick aside - did you know that Babe was actually filmed in Australia?) We got to see a real sheep dog's skills up close while we were at Lone Pine. It's fascinating how a dog can lead a large group of sheep seemingly anywhere - over bridges, down steps, into corrals... Pretty amazing.
6. Wild Rainbow Lorikeet Swarms!
Flocks of wild lorikeets are all over Queensland - and Brisbane is no exception. Every evening at Lone Pine just before closing, workers at the sanctuary put out bowls of fresh fruit to entice the local flock of lorikeets to stop by the sanctuary for some snacks. It is utter avian chaos! Chirping loudly all the while, over a hundred of these colorful guys descend onto the trees, the snack bowls, and onto visitors' heads.
We had an absolutely fantastic time at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. If you're in Brisbane for a few days, you really couldn't find a better way to spend an afternoon than a trip to Lone Pine.
The sanctuary is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM.* Tickets are $36 per adult, $22 per child, free for children under 2, and $24 for Seniors & Students (with ID). There are also family rates available for purchase.
* Except ANZAC Day when they are open from 1:30 to 5 PM.
Lastly, I am not affiliated with Lone Pine in any way, I just really loved visiting their sanctuary. :)