1638 Steve Irwin Way
This last week we’ve been on a long overdue family holiday! From Melbourne up to the sunny Sunshine Coast, and Australia Zoo was a place I was super excited about visiting.
Firstly…I believe this zoo is a 2 day event, and we only allocated 1, but it depends how you zoo. If you are a rush by, just want to tick the boxes type of person you can do it in a day. You’ll be rushed, but it can be done, it’s just a very large zoo. If you want to see the shows, read the signs, ride the camels (actually!), then I’d give it 2 if you can. They even sell a 2 day ticket which should have given me a heads up that 1 day might be rushing it.
So…I must say…..this is the BEST ZOO I have ever been to. It was original owned by Steve Irwin’s dad as a reptile park, and later Steve and Terri Irwin (Croc Hunter and his wife) grew it into Australia Zoo as we know it today. Their philosophy for Australia Zoo is that the zoo animals come first, the zoo team come second, and the zoo visitors come third. With happy, healthy animals…the rest just seems to fall into place. Read more about the Irwins here
What I presumed, incorrectly, was that Australia Zoo only had Australian animals. I’m not sure why I thought this, but I imagined it to be akin to Healesville Sanctuary or Moonlit Sanctuary. Given this I was quite surprised to find a children’s petting zoo, an Asia section, lemurs, and an open range Africa!
So let’s talk about the good bits…
There are multiple times to interact with animals, some paid and some just throughout the grounds. I was pretty chuffed to cuddle a koala…my first time! It was actually very cuddly and didn’t smell bad (I thought it would). To cuddle and get a professional photo was $24.95 (this is just a phone snap), but elsewhere in the the zoo was a place to pat a koala if you couldn’t afford a cuddle… but seriously….pay for the cuddle.
There were snakes, birds, and loads of other things to get professional photos with. At the end of the day you can view all the professional photos and decide if you wish to buy any (except koala which is pre paid).
Great extra bits.
As I said earlier it’s probably best as a 2 day experience. There are a heap of shows and lots of pay extra experiences, amongst just the regular zoo action. A highlight was the “croc show” which is actually called the “Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors”. Had a bunch of birds doing tricks and then some crocs on display. Was super cool, even if a little bit nerve wracking.
Quick food service.
The croc show goes from noon for about half an hour, and it is right next to the main cafeteria. So, obviously, that meant hundreds of people instantly flocked to get lunch at the same time. We had 4 adults and a child with us and were seated with meals within 5 minutes, which surpassed my expectations! The food was fresh and excellent. I had a Thai beef salad and Missy Moo had a kids meal with sushi and fruit, so it’s not just deep fried crap either.
There’s a shuttle bus throughout the zoo to help reduce walking. We needed it at the very end of the day to cruise all the way back to the start.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is the largest and busiest of its kind in the world. It’s great that the zoo is so passionate about conservation and wildlife protection, in addition to the general day to day zoo action.
• Up to 100 wildlife emergency calls are received daily
• Up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital daily
• An average of 70 koalas come through the hospital every month
• Approximately 70% of patients are victims of car accidents or domestic pet attacks
• The average cost to treat an animal is between $380 and $1,500. Due to their specialised nature, koalas can cost up to $7,000 to treat, although long-term patients can be even more costly
Donations are welcome or you can tour the facility too (we ran out of time…boo!). A “sneak peak” tour is only $2…bargain!
So although it was fantastic there are a few little areas for improvement.
Signage vs. maps
The maps and the signs don’t say the same thing. I mean, come on guys…this is a no brainer. This wasn’t the only time, but see how on the map it’s just Kangaroos but on the sign it’s clearly Roo Heaven? Well, it made it navigation just a little bit harder than necessary.
Ok…here are the prices, taken directly from the website.
I don’t overly have an issue with the price to entertainment value, but it was annoying that there were a lot of add ons. Eg. buying kangaroo food. Of course you are going to buy it, so maybe just include a free bag when you get your ticket. I love the idea of thinking I’m getting something for “free”, rather than continually handing out extra $$$ during the day.
Overall it is a fantastic zoo; one where the animals seemed well cared for, the staff friendly (and in Khaki!), and a good conservation and educational mindset.