lone pine koala sanctuary
There are many activities that can be found on most Bucket Lists: skydiving, running with the bulls, walk the Great Wall of China, climb Maccu Piccu… cuddling a koala? If the opportunity was presented, I’d challenge you to say no. For Ryann, this exact activity was absolutely at the top of “Must Do’s While in Australia.” For Devin, he wasn’t convinced until he reached the ticket counter.
Where Should I Cuddle?
The difficult part wasn’t the cuddling itself, it was picking the right place to do it! Fortunately for us, cuddling a Koala is banned in New South Wales, so with our itinerary, we were forced to pick from a much smaller list while in Queensland. Yet, there were still so many choices: Wildlife Currumbin Sanctuary, Kuranda Koala Gardens, Rainforest Habitat, Billabong Sanctuary, Alma Park Zoo, Paradise Country, Dreamworld, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, to name a few…
Being on a tight-schedule, we didn’t want to spend TOO much time at a zoo- so that ruled out the famed Steve Irwin’s former claim to fame and some others. In addition to that, the prices of entry and the fee for holding the koala were unreasonably too expensive. Reviews on Trip Advisor indicated that there was a highly-rated zoo found in Brisbane. Further research concluded that one special zoo made it on the Top Ten Zoos in the World (rated by AOL).
AOL was right- the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was absolutely a highlight of our Australia trip. We weren’t alone in this choice. Framed and autographed pictures of celebrities and public figures line the walls of the café/zoo shop. Some include: Taylor Swift, President Kennedy, Ed Sheeran and many others (http://www.koala.net/famous-visitors.html). We’re confident that the admin is still uploading our images to the site.
Touring Lone Pine
Walking through the entrance, you are greeted by smell of Eucalyptus, wandering turkeys and rather large lizards darting in all directions. Further on, you discover an array of animals, including a cage full of flying foxes (THOSE EXIST?!) while making your way down to the koalas. The park is rather small for a zoo, but don’t let it deter you- it’s all the more accessible and manageable.
What It’s Like to Cuddle a Koala!
In order to partake in cuddling a koala, you must purchase separate tickets once inside the zoo (tickets can be purchased in the general store to the right of the koala cuddling exhibit). Once you have your tickets, you are directed to the outdoor hut adjacent to the shop, where you stand in the line and wait your turn. With our experience, it didn’t take all that long for it to be our turn. By then, we were sizing up the koalas, brainstorming poses and getting our cameras ready. You ARE allowed to take your own pictures, but a “professional,” picture is included with the ticket price. Ryann went, Devin went, and we were also able to take a picture of us together for our own camera. Overall, the koala cuddling was a success, an enjoyment and a tick off the bucket list! For Ryann, she held her koala with love and showered it with affection, loving every second until it was time to give her furbaby back to the zookeeper. For Devin, well… we’ll get to that.
Other than the obvious bliss of holding the koala herself, Ryann’s other moment of sheer enjoyment was watching Devin’s attempt at holding the koala. To be honest, we’re still not sure what the problem was. The zookeeper instructed Dev to hold his hands out, stand tall, etc… And Devin did it fine. The koala was not having any of it- he stuck out his hind legs and pushed away from Devin’s stomach, trying hard to keep the distance. The poor man looked confused and a little rejected. Ryann was lucky enough to get a few shots of this. The zookeeper gave up, put that koala in his tree and got Devin a new one to try. This koala was much more content with being held and we think reveled in the attention. Overall, we both had good experiences in the end.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Not Just for Koalas
While we were standing in line purchasing our tickets, we noticed the shop sold kangaroo food. Thrilled at the chance of feeding kangaroos and wallabies, we bought 4 bags worth of pellets. Turns out, the kangaroos have a much more sophisticated palate than the pellets could satiate (However, we fed the pellets to other wild kangaroos who thoroughly enjoyed them – read more here)! That, or they are bored and fatigued with the same daily nourishment. In so many words: they did not eat the food. No worries though, fun was still had taking kangaroo pictures. Devin got some really great shots, seen below. He definitely enjoyed this experience and animal interaction much more than the famous koala. The kangaroos didn’t move very much and felt comfortable enough to let you pet and get very close to them. There were even some little joeys hopping around!
After interacting with both Australia’s most prominent marsupials, we walked a lap around the rest of the zoo, saw a platypus and a cassowary, and decided it was time to embark on the remainder of our driving for the day.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was just what we were looking for.
To see injured koala, visit the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie: http://www.koalahospital.org.au/