Australia Zoo : One Of The Best In The World

By | July 29, 2013 at 6:49 am | 53 comments | Animal Encounters, Australia, James | Tags:

Australia Zoo

When I was younger I went through a phase of being terrified that I would be eaten by Tasmanian Devils. I have no idea where this fear stemmed from or even how I had heard of Tasmanian Devils (we lived in a small village), but at the Australia Zoo I finally confronted my fears and got close to a Tasmanian devil. I discovered that they are not, in fact, the blood-thirsty demons of my youth. Rather they are some of the cutest creatures at the zoo. That is saying something as Australia Zoo seems to be around 50% cute animals and 50% animals that look like they would try to kill you in your sleep!

Photo of a Tasmanian Devil

A Baby Tasmanian Devil At Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo did not always have such a balanced ratio of cute to deadly. When it first opened up as the Beerwah Reptile Park none of the animals were cute or cuddly! That is unless of course like the founder of Australia Zoo you find Crocodiles and Snakes to be cute.

The Crocodile Hunter – Crickey!

I am talking about possibly the coolest conservationist ever. The legendary Steve Irwin. Better known as the Crocodile Hunter. Throughout most of the 90s Steve would travel around Australia with his wife, Teri, and document his encounters with some of the worlds deadliest animals (weirdly I don’t think I ever saw one where he talked about the Tasmanian Devil, more evidence that my fear came from nowhere!). Steve unfortunately died in a filming accident when he was stung by a stingray whilst filming for a documentary series where he was planning on showcasing off the fantastic and unique sea life around Australia.

Conservation Efforts At Australia Zoo

As it was founded by a conservationist, Australia Zoo is heavily involved in conservation in Australia. Australia Zoo has brought 4 large areas of land and created private wildlife reserves (the largest of which is 330 000 acres). They have also been at the forefront of wildlife rehabilitation with the formation of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. A veterinary hospital that is one of the best equipped in the world. They also run International Crocodile Rescue, this is a program that captures problem crocodiles and either relocates them to a more suitable area, or if it is deemed they are to dangerous to be released, cares for them in the zoo.

Australia Zoo is also know for how “hands on” they are. Every day gives you the opportunity to hand-feed Asian elephants. There is also the opportunity to have an “animal encounter” these are not included in the ticket price but when else are you going to get the chance to feed a cheetah or get close to a komodo dragon? These encounters sell out fast due to their popularity, so be sure to book ahead. Throughout the day there are also keepers walking the animals. So keep your eyes peeled and you may be able to sit in on a talk about Dingos or Tasmanian Devils. One of the best things we did whilst at the zoo was touching the kangaroos (which were a lot smaller then I thought they would be) and the koalas. Their fur is so soft and they looked dazed and confused at everything.

Entertainment And Fun At Australia Zoo

At 1100 every day there is a live show at the “Crocoseam”. This shows of some of the animals in the park from the Elephants to Parrots. The highlight though is seeing the crocodile. It is lured into the area by a (somewhat nervous looking) zoo keeper splashing in the shallow water.

Crocodile image


The crocodile is then taken to deeper water where they showcase just how high they can jump out of the water. They dangle a piece of meat about 6ft from the surface and the crocodile jumps for it. There is then a demonstration of how the crocodile would hunt in the wild. The keeper again splashes in the shallow are tempting the crocodile over. He throws it a ham (a full ham, sort of jealous of the crocodile at this stage!) that is tied to a rope. As soon as the crocodile takes the rope it begins a game of tug of war with the keepers. This ends when the crocodile does a “death roll” and “drowns” its ham. This show put me off going in, or near, any waterway in Australia!

A photo of a crocodile

A crocodile leaps for some prey at the Australia Zoo

When we went to Australia Zoo they were putting the finishing touches on their Africa exhibit. This is a large enclosure designed to simulate how different animals interact with each other in the wild. It was great to see the giraffes, rhinos and zebra roaming around together and will, hopefully set the bar for other zoos to follow. Australia Zoo also has the best tiger enclosure I have ever seen. It includes an underwater viewing area as tigers like to swim. Fun tiger fact: They have webbed toes! Australia Zoo also has Australia’s largest Elephant enclosure measuring 12 acres!

photo of a lazy tiger

A napping tiger at the Australia Zoo

The Nitty Gritty

  • Australia Zoo is open from 9am to 5pm
  • It costs $59 per Adult and $35 per Child (there are also discounts for students)
  • It is advisable to book any animal encounter that you want to do ahead of time as they are extremely popular.
  • To get there from Brisbane take the Sunshine Coast Line to Landsborough and catch the shuttle bus that should meet you at the station (they try to meet every train that arrives). However this can take quite a bit of time (over an hour). The quicker and less painful way would be to hire a car in Brisbane with Drivenow and drive there.
  • Be sure to bring Sunscreen and plenty of water (it can get very hot at Australia Zoo)

Get there early. We arrived at 10 and at the end we wished we had spent an extra hour there.

Have you been to an awesome zoo like Australia Zoo? What did you think?

About the Author


James is now running the travel website and has recently got back from a mountaineering trip to Russia and is currently in training for the Marathon Des Sables a 250km ultra-marathon in the Sahara. You can follow him on Twitter @barbarasdinner or Facebook


  1. AdorableLand (2 years ago)

    I like zoo very much. I was in Kiev Zoo. Unfortunately, many animals have been dying recently there. I also had a chance to visit Berlin Zoo and I was really impressed.

    I think it is very nice when you have an opportunity to touch animals in Australia Zoo:) As to the prices, $59 isn’t so cheap for ordinary Ukrainians. Even in comparison with Berlin Zoo, it is three times as much. Anyway, I think it’s worth to visit it.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I agree that the price is rather high at Australia Zoo. We were lucky because I got a family pass as a gift from one of my old coworkers in New Zealand. Berlin Zoo is also a great zoo! I really loved it there as well!

  2. Sherry (2 years ago)

    Wow! The zoo is rather expensive in Australia. Its anywhere between $10-$25 USD in any of the ones I’ve been to in the United States, in the big cities, too. I had no idea that’s what a Tasmanian devil looks like; it does look cute but not as cute as that tiger.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Yeah, the zoo is expensive here when you compare it to some others. But then again everything in Australia is a bit pricey. I thought the price was pretty reasonable for what we got – but then again we actually had a free pass which we got as a gift from one of my coworkers in New Zealand. I loved seeing the Koalas! I dont think James used any koala photos – so I might have to do a photo essay especially for them!

    • Caitlin (2 years ago)

      @Sherry Although it’s called ‘Australia Zoo’, it is nt the national zoo. It is a private business witha grandiose name.

  3. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy (2 years ago)

    I love zoos… it’s cool you can get so close to the animals at this one!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It was really awesome! I’m glad I wasn’t anywhere near those crocs though!

  4. Cam (2 years ago)

    We visited the Australia Zoo a couple years ago. Agreed, it’s one of the best out there!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I just loved how passionate they are about conservation as well! We were there on Steve Irwin Day, and they had a load of free talks by conversationalists, etc. It’s great that they are so passionate about what they do.

  5. cheryl (2 years ago)

    Wow oh wow. Certainly pricey but looks like it’s worth it. Like the photo of that tiger. Looks so relaxed and cute. :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It is a bit pricey, but we have found Australia to be fairly expensive so I think it is just because of where it is. The tiger was so relaxed I think we watched it for about 10 minutes and it did not move even a little bit :)

  6. Abby (2 years ago)

    Wow! I’ve only seen crocodiles once, and never a kangaroo… What a day!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Im just glad I saw the crocodile in the zoo and not in the wild!

  7. Caroline Eubanks (2 years ago)

    I skipped the zoo because I thought it was too expensive but saw plenty of critters on Magnetic Island and Cape Tribulation. Looks like fun though!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      The zoo is a great option for people who want to experience Australian wildlife but who are short on time. I will have to check your blog for some Magnetic Island tips!

  8. crazy sexy fun traveler (2 years ago)

    Wow, it looks really cool! Especially when you can touch and play with the animals. There’s not many zoos where you can do that!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I agree! And they are also so passionate about conservation as well! By allowing you to interact with the animals, I think it makes you even more likely to want to try to save the ones who still live in the wild

  9. Michela @rockytravelblog (2 years ago)

    The Australia Zoo is a very special place. I had the opportunity of visiting whilst volunteering at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, but only had a few hours…you really need a whole day to visit this huge and unique zoo properly. And yes I can highly recommend it despite the expensive ticket :-)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Hey Michela! It’s so true! We gave ourselves 5 hours which we thought would be too long, but actually we were rushing at the end to try to see everything!

  10. Linda ~ Journey Jottings (2 years ago)

    The difference with this ‘zoo’ (and therefore the extra price) is that you aren’t just looking at animals in enclosures as in a conventional zoo, Australia Zoo puts on numerous shows each day in the ‘crocoseum’ that includes not only crocodiles but a variety of other animals including parrots flying free across from one side of the stadium to the other.
    Definitely need a FULL day to make the most of it :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I totally agree with you. Its a really hands on place and the staff are really eager to share their love of the animals with you. We met keepers who were out walking the dingos, and keepers cuddling the tasmanian devil babies. There were also conservatino lectures going on in various meeting rooms. It was such a great experience and one where I learnt much more than I usually do at zoos where you only have information boards.

  11. Sophie (2 years ago)

    We were in Australia Zoo in 2003 and even saw Steve Irwin taking care of a little wombat . It was a wonderful place, we especially loved walking amongst the kangaroos. Gorgeous surroundings, too – with the Glasshouse Mountains and the whole Sunshine Coast hinterland. The kind of place one could stay forever.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Wow! You got to see the legendary Steve Irwin himself! That is pretty awesome!

  12. Bobbi Lee Hitchon (2 years ago)

    You definitely captured the essence of this place. I really liked the tigers. Though I thought it was a bit too pricey, especially because there are so many great sanctuaries all around Australia that are a bit more intimate and cost much less.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      it was quite pricy but there is so much stuff to do at that zoo, also it is world famous because of the Irwin Family. I do agree that their are cheaper more specific places to visit around Australia. We are planning on visiting a koala sanctuary at some stage :)

      • Scott (2 years ago)

        For those of you complaining about Australia Zoo been a bit expensive, you have to realise that unlike every other main zoo in Australia it is privately run and receives absolutely no government funding.

        You also need to remember that Australia Zoo puts more money into wildlife conservation than any other zoo in the world. They have donated more to Tiger conservation than any other organisation in the last few years. They also support programs for Elephants in Cambodia, Tasmanian Devils, Cheetah in South Africa, Crocodile research, Sea Turtle tracking and ofcourse the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital… one of the biggest wildlife hospitals in the world.

        Every person who goes to Australia Zoo is contributing to conservation projects around the world.

        • OurOyster (2 years ago)

          I love your comment Scott. I couldn’t have put it better myself! The work done by Australia Zoo is simply amazing and it is important to remember that we are not just paying an entrance fee – we are putting our money towards a great cause.

  13. Kerri (2 years ago)

    Looks amazing! I planned to go to Australia Zoo during visit my visit to Australia in 2008 but for various reasons, never made it. One day though :) great post and pictures!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It was a great day out. We are planning on visiting the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary at some stage as well :)

  14. Michael W, (2 years ago)

    My wife and I really enjoyed The Taronga Zoo in Sydney. I haven’t been to a zoo anywhere else that you need to take a ferry to get there!

    We also had a great time at Featherdale Nature Park. It was relatively close to Sydney and a stop on the way to the Blue Mountains. Some nice animal interactions …

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      We will have to check out Taronga Zoo when we go to Sydney. I would love to see the Blue Mountains as well.

  15. Chris (2 years ago)

    I was lucky enough to meet Steve Irwin when my family visited the Australian Zoo back when I was 15 or 16. He was such a genuinely enthusiastic guy who took the time out after his crocodile feeding to come and have a chat with us and thank us for traveling so far to visit the park.

    I was really sad when he passed away.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I would have loved to have met him. I used to watch the Crocodile Hunter religiously when I was younger. It was such a loss when he passed away.

  16. Caitlin (2 years ago)

    Have you been to many zoos around the world? I can’t agree that it is one of the best. In Australia, Taronga Zoo in Sydney and the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo are better. In the US, San Diego Zoo and the Washington DC Zoo are better. Australia Zoo is excellent for the live croc shows and the rest of it is OK. I was disappointed – for the money I expected something world class and it wasn’t.

    It is very expensive even by Australian standards. Yes, the zoo is a private institution so unlike other Australian zoos it does not receive government funding. However, this also means that the zoo is run for profit. It’s a business. Nothing wrong with that but to blame the high ticket price on lack of government support is misleading.

    The conservation donations and education was great though you get that at other zoos too. I would have liked it to be more holistic – they talked the talk but the food in the cafeteria was all Nestlé stuff filled with palm oil (a major cause of deforestation and orangutan death and displacement) and the gift shop was full of plastic junk. Sadly you do get that at other zoos too.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I have not been to the zoos in the US or any of the other ones in Australia. In my opinion Australia Zoo is one of the best if not the best in comparison to many of the zoos we have in Europe. Which seem very dated and not the best environment for the animals.

      We were also at Australia Zoo on Steve Irwin day and their was a lot more going on then there would be on normal days. I think that this could be the reason we thought it was great value for money.

      We also did not eat anything at the cafeteria and agree that there was a lot of plastic junk in the gift shop, though I think you are right in saying that this is something that most zoos are guilty of.

      Whilst we are in Australia we will try to get down and see the Taronga Zoo as well.

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  18. ShIrlene from Idelish (2 years ago)

    How did I miss this when I was in Oz?! Added to the list now!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I loved getting up and close with all the animals at Australia zoo! Such an amazing place

  19. Turtle (2 years ago)

    To be completely honest (and please don’t hate me for this), Steve Irwin was sometimes a bit of an embarrassment to many Australians. We cringed to think that people overseas thought everyone was a stereotype like him.
    BUT, having said that, you look at the conservation work he did and his legacy of Australia Zoo and you can’t help but have a lot of respect for the man.
    Clearly beneath the caricature of his TV personality there was a guy who genuinely cared for animals and the planet.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I couldn’t agree more…. he was definitely a character, but even for all the cringe worthy moments, the work that he did for conservation in Australia was huge! I wish we had someone like that in Canada. Of course, the Canadian version would have to wear a lumberjack outfit at all times…

  20. Melissa (2 years ago)

    I wish i could visit this zoo in some time. I have heard so many reviews about it, and all of them were positive ones

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Next time you are in Queensland, Australia, you definitely need to go!

  21. Shalu Sharma (2 years ago)

    I have heard of this zoo before but never realised that it was as good and the best in the world.

  22. Shalu Sharma (2 years ago)

    I have heard of this zoo before but never realised that it was as good and the best in the world.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I dont know if it is the best in the world, but it is definitely up there. I guess it all depends on personal experience as well

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  25. Kristy (12 months ago)

    The fourth picture is so scary. Haha. I don’t think I can throw a meat to the crocodile although I am more willing to visit the zoo to conquer my fear on crocs and also on snakes.

  26. Hogga (11 months ago)

    ahhh they are all so cute!

  27. Australian Visa Services (9 months ago)

    Zoo for me is a great place, because in this place you’ll have the chance to get in touch with the animals that you are not seeing everyday. I like the picture of the baby tasmanian devil, so cute!

  28. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs (7 months ago)

    I do not like zoos, I love animals but much prefer to see them in a natural habitat.

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