We might be raising kids in the city, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get up close and personal with friends of the furry kind once in a while. And we don’t need to wait until the Ekka rolls into town every August. There are plenty of places in South East Queensland to see animals and wildlife all year round.
We have wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, animal encounters, and working animal farms all within easy driving distance of Brisbane. Places that provide wonderful opportunities for our little ones to learn about animals and see how they live. You may find these animals roaming free, or living in purposely built environments that resemble their natural habitat.
Here are some of our favourites.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Opened in 1927, Lone Pine is the world’s largest koala sanctuary and is home to over 130 koalas. Don’t be fooled by the name though, you will also find plenty of other animals at this Brisbane institution. It is home to barn animals, snakes, birds, and the elusive platypus. The daily show schedule means you can see all these animals in action.
If you’re staying in the city, why not take a trip up the river to Lone Pine? Mirimar Cruises operates a daily cruise service to the zoo. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the view from the water.
You can find Lone Pine 12km from the city at Fig Tree Pocket.
Where: 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket, Q 4069
Open: 7 days per week. 9am – 5pm.
What’s On: Farmer’s Market every Friday from 4pm followed by movie screenings at their outdoor cinema.
Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre
Located at The Gap, a leafy suburb to the north-west of the city, Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre has been set up to educate visitors about the animals that are found around South East Queensland.
The Wildlife Centre sits at the edge of the D’Aguilar National Park, a 36,400 hectare park made up of eucalypt forest and rainforest. The centre has been designed with natural exhibits to replicate the animals’ actual habitat. You will find reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and mammals here. There is also a nocturnal-house so you can see the animals that usually only come out at night. Don’t miss the Gondwana Platypus Rockpool! Check the information centre for daily feeding times.
The information centre also offers virtual lookouts showcasing sights and landscapes from other South East Queensland national parks.
You can spend a whole day at Walkabout Creek. Located next to Enoggera Reservoir, it’s a perfect place for a walk or swim once you’ve finished seeing all the animals.
Where: 60 Mt Nebo Road, The Gap, Q 4061
Open: 7 days per week. 9am – 4.30pm.
What’s on: A wildlife discovery show is held every weekend and kids can participate in Junior Ranger activities on school holidays.
Check them out at www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daguilar/walkabout-creek, or read our Walkabout Creek Review
Trevena Glen Farm
This 22-acre farm located at Mount Samson offers visitors an insight into farm life on the first Saturday of every month. Only a 40-minute drive from Brisbane City, Trevena Glen Farm gives kids the chance to feed and cuddle their favourite farm animals. You will see horses, sheep, pigs, guinea pigs, miniature ponies, and even a donkey. You may even be lucky enough to meet some baby animals. They also offer tractor wagon rides, pony rides and a jumping castle.
Event numbers are capped so book your tickets early. You can book tickets and keep up to date with special events on their Facebook page.
Where: 1132 Winn Road, Mount Samson, Q 4520
Open: 1st Saturday of each month. 9am – 12pm.
What’s on: You can have your birthday party or take horse-riding lessons at Trevena Glen.
Find out more at http://www.trevenaglen.com.au/
Ipswich Nature Centre
Set among lush landscaped gardens, this nature centre has been set up to replicate the local bushland and habitats for native animals. Described as Ipswich’s best kept secret, you will find wallabies, emus, quolls, wombats and a rainforest bird aviary here. Kids will love seeing the farm animals in the barn too. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the iconic bilby in the nocturnal exhibit.
Although it has free admission, a gold coin donation is appreciated to help with care of the animals and improvements to the centre.
Where: Queens Park, Goleby Avenue, Ipswich, Q 4305
Open: Tuesday to Sunday. 9.30am – 4pm.
What’s on: Call the council on 07 3810 6666 for feeding times.
Find out more at https://www.discoveripswich.com.au/attraction/ipswich-nature-centre/. You may also like to check out our Queens Park, Ipswich Review.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – Wildlife of O’Reilly’s
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers something for everyone. But when it comes to animal experiences, you can’t go past their Birds of Prey show and Wildlife Encounters.
The Birds of Prey show is held daily at 1pm. In this show you will see owls, falcons, or eagles in full flight showing off their amazing aerobatic skills. O’Reilly’s also offers a one-on-one experience after the show if you want to get up close and personal with these majestic birds.
The O’Reilly’s Wildlife Warriors lead the Wildlife Encounter every day at 10am. This guided experience teaches about native animals, their habitats, and the impacts humans have on the delicate ecosystem in which these animals live.
You can find O’Reilly’s within Lamington National Park. The park is home to over 160 species of birdlife, reptiles, frogs and mammals. You might even spot them on the many walking tracks around the park.
Where: 3582 Lamington National Park Road, O’Reilly, Q 4275
Open: 7 days per week. 10am and 1pm
Check them out at www.oreillys.com.au, or take a look at our Lamington National Park and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat Review.
If you feel like travelling a bit further afield… here are a few extra places to visit.
Darling Downs Zoo (Pilton) – A privately owned zoo open daily from 9am – 4pm. You can see animals from Africa, South America, South-East Asia, and Australia. www.darlingdownszoo.com.au.
David Fleay Wildlife Park which is a government-owned wildlife park filled with native animals. Its located on the Gold Coast.
The Farm (Byron Bay) – An 80-acre farm where behind-the-scene farm tours are held each Saturday and Farm Kids Workshops are held on Sundays. Farm entry is free but a charge applies to the tours and workshops. www.thefarmbyronbay.com.au.
Mon Repos Turtle Centre (Bargara) – Join QPWS Rangers on a guided tour to watch Logger-head turtles nesting (November to January) and the hatchlings make their way to the water (January to March). You may also like to read our Mon Repos article, or find out more about Things To Do In Bundaberg With Kids while you are there. https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/mon-repos/turtle-centre.html.
Extra special sightings you might see on your travels around Queensland – Koalas in the trees at Noosa National Park, Glow Worms at Springbrook National Park, Cassowarys in the Daintree Rainforest, and Cockatoos at Coolangatta Beach.