Spanning over 100 acres of tropical parkland and housing more than one thousand native and exotic animals, Australia Zoo is an awesome place to visit with your Brisbane kids.
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From humble beginnings in the 1990s, the Irwin family have worked hard to make Australia Zoo a world class conservation facility and tourist attraction. In 2022 they expanded even further with the addition of the Crocodile Hunter Lodge and Warrior Restaurant. Located just a few minutes from the Zoo, guests can stay in luxurious cabins while enjoying wild native animals in peaceful surroundings, while diners can sample the delicious food on offer at the restaurant, which utilises Australia’s finest ingredients.
With so much on offer to see and do, it can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve put together some tips to help you make the most of your next family trip to Australia Zoo.
If possible, book your discount tickets online before you go as this will save you having to line up to purchase them on the day. The less waiting around with little ones, the better! And don’t forget to grab your free map on entry so you can navigate your way around. The zoo is open from 9am until 5pm every day, except Christmas Day. On Anzac day it is open from 1.30pm until 5.30pm.
Getting around Australia Zoo
As of December 2022, ‘Steve’s Shuttle Service’ has temporarily changed from an open-aired shuttle to a mini bus with covered trailer. A new shuttle bus is due to be delivered to Australia Zoo by mid-2023.
For small children, you will need a pram as there is a fair amount of walking to do. The cheapest option is to bring your own. If you forget, or that is not possible, there are prams and “tag along wagons” available for hire. You can also make use of “Steve’s Shuttle Service” to get around the zoo and give tired legs a rest. There are also plenty of ramps and lifts available for easy pram access, and the paths around the zoo are wide and pram friendly too. Wheelchairs and motorised scooters can also be hired (for a fee) from the front area of the Zoo.
The animals at Australia Zoo
You may not have time to see all the animals in one day, so here’s a list of the most interactive animal exhibits. Why not ask your children to name two or three animals that they really want to see and then spend the most time at those exhibits? This gives your Brisbane kids more time to learn about their animal of interest and spend time observing their behaviour.
Roo Heaven is a large and natural home for kangaroos and wallabies – children can hand-feed them (food available for a small fee), pat them and have their photo taken with them.
The cuddly koalas are a must see and children are able to pat them and learn more about this vulnerable species of unique Australian wildlife.
Crocodiles were always Steve Irwin’s passion, and so you can’t go past the crocodile enclosure without having a look at these amazing prehistoric reptiles.
With less than 4000 tigers left in the wild, it is special to see these big cats and their cubs up close and learn about how we can help save them. There is even an underwater viewing enclosure to watch them having a swim, and you can witness the handlers keeping them entertained with toys and games.
Explore the wide open plains of the African Savannah and see the rhinos, giraffes, zebras and meerkats. You may even see a cheetah walking by. The setting is completed with a big canvas safari tent where you can stop for a rest, a drink from the kiosk and time to just gaze at these amazing animals. Tip: head to the African section first up in the day and work your way backwards. The safari area can be unbearably hot in the middle of the day and you will be thankful that you did this in the cool of the morning.
The Australia Zoo roving wildlife team give you the chance to meet koalas, wombats, possums, dingoes, blue tongue lizards, skinks, pythons, alligators, macaws, cockatoos and many more. You can also have your children’s photo taken with them, either by yourself (for free) or by one of the professional photographers. These photos are then available to purchase in the photo lab.
Australia Zoo experiences
1. Animal Encounters
Animal lovers can get up close and personal (for a fee!) with their favourite zoo animal. Participants may be able to pat them, feed them, walk them and have their photo taken with them. Make a booking when you arrive at the zoo, but be aware that children must be four years or older to participate, and they must be accompanied by a paying adult.
2. Zoo Keeper for a day
During the Queensland school holidays, children aged seven years and up can take part in the Khaki Discovery Program and see what it would it would be like to be a zookeeper for the day. The program includes lunch, a photo, a gift and the opportunity to explore “behind the scenes” at the zoo and help to care for some of the animals.
3. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
If you have a budding vet or wildlife warrior in the family, you can book and pay for a “behind the scenes” tour of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Alternatively, for an additional $2 per entry, you can have a “sneak peek” into the hospital and learn more about animal conservation and rehabilitation. This is perfect for little ones with short attention spans! All proceeds from the tours go towards caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife.
Shows at Australia Zoo
There are a number of informative and entertaining animal talks/shows held throughout the day – tortoises, otters, crocs, koalas and birds, to name a few. Check your map that you received on entry for the most up to date show times. The main show – Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors – runs at 1.15pm each day in the Crocoseum. This is really worth watching, and in the school holidays, you’re almost guaranteed of seeing Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin perform. A word of warning for younger visitors: it does get quite loud, and there are large birds flying around the audience. If you’ve seen the show before (it hasn’t changed much over the years), then use this time to go and see the other exhibits. You will feel like you have the zoo all to yourselves and can enjoy the animals without the crowds.
Playgrounds and Waterplay at Australia Zoo
If your little ones are losing interest in the animals, there is a jumping pillow and tea cup ride (both free for paying guests) at Crikey Kids Corner which can be found behind the Laughing Frog Lolly Shop. Camp Grace, another children’s playground, was built to commemorate Grace Warrior (Bindi and Chandler’s daughter) turning one and can be found on Bindi’s Island.
On a hot day the children can cool off at the free Laughing Frog Waterpark. Partially shaded, with lots of water spouts, children will enjoy getting wet as they lounge on a koala, climb a croc or stand under the laughing kookaburra as it spurts water to those below. But perhaps the biggest hit of all is the ‘laughing frog’ which towers over the waterpark spilling large amounts of water onto those brave enough to be standing underneath it. Toilet facilities and lockers (fee per use) are available beside the waterpark.
Feeding time at the zoo
The most economical option is to bring your own food and drinks to the zoo. There are no BBQ facilities but there are plenty of grassy spots in the shade to enjoy a picnic. There are also lockers available for hire so that you don’t have to lug your picnic gear around all day. For nursing mothers, there are dedicated nursing rooms.
If you would rather eat out, there is a 1,500 seat open-air Crikey Cafe offering burgers, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, fish and chips and other hot foods. You can purchase a kid’s croc box meal deal consisting of chicken nuggets or sushi, chips, a popper and a toy. The Laughing Frog Lolly Shop and Ice Creamery is always a hit with the kids and is conveniently located near the water play area. There are also numerous kiosks in the zoo selling tea, coffee, cold drinks, snacks and ice creams. Remember that you will be paying “theme park prices” for all food and drinks.
Bottled water is available for sale, but to save money, bring your water bottles and refill them at the water fountains provided. You will also need cash for the kiosks and for purchasing animal feed – an ATM is available at the zoo entry.
Tips on how to have a great day at Australia Zoo
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, a hat, carry a water bottle and apply sunscreen.
- In Summer, the zoo can get very hot, so try and pick a cooler day if you can. If it is hot, start with the African area and work your way back
- Packing a poncho if it looks like rain is also a good idea but they do also sell them there.
- Don’t forget your camera, as there will be many photo opportunities.
- There is free Wi-Fi available in the Crocoseum, admissions area and food court if you want to share some of your snaps with the world.
- Finally, don’t forget to tell your children the zoo rules to help keep them and the animals safe. In particular, remind your children not to feed the animals anything other than approved zoo food, don’t touch the animals and don’t climb into their enclosures. Crikey!
- Save money by checking out Annual passes if you plan to go there often
- You can bring your own food and drinks to Australia Zoo.
Australia Zoo is located at 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah.
It is approximately a one hour drive from Brisbane. Car parking is free. Alternatively, you can catch a train from Brisbane to Landsborough or Beerwah station and a free shuttle bus will take you the rest of the way.
For more information and bookings: www.australiazoo.com.au