When I mentioned to a friend that I was going to Australia she told me that she thought there was only one place in Australia that allowed you to hold a Koala – Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, outside of Brisbane. After traveling there, I do believe there may be a few other places, but it is a rare experience. I decided to go there on my free day in Brisbane, after I landed and before flying to Melbourne in the evening.
My plan was to take the train into Brisbane and the Mirimar Cruise to the Sanctuary. However, my plane landed late and I had to change to plan B – my reservation for a rental car. I’m pretty sure by renting the car I got the most expensive picture with a Koala ever, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
I’m happy to report I made it safely to and from my first time driving on the wrong side of the road!
Once at the sanctuary I paid my admission ($33 Aus) and went and saw Koalas. My first stop was to get my photo with a Koala, since it was a goal in this particular excursion, cost of the photo was $16 Aus and they did take pictures with my camera too. I did find the process a bit confusing since you had to go into a store to buy the photo before going to take the photo. It would have made more sense to have it as an option when you bought your admission.
The line for photos was not long, only a few people and they had two Koala’s working at a time. I did see them switched out from time to time so I don’t believe the Koala’s were being treated poorly for this experience. All the Koala’s I saw were very calm and docile, important because they have sharp claws, which probably aren’t called claws.
Once it was my turn I walked up and the Koala was placed on my hands and shoulders, pictures were snapped and I was sent on my way. It should be noted that Koala’s poop a lot out of the front of them, where they rest on your belly. Yea, that shirt didn’t make it past that day… Bottom line, I don’t recommend dressing up for the sanctuary.
As for the rest of the sanctuary. They had tons of Koalas. I visited several other animal sanctuaries in Australia and this had the most Koala’s by leaps and bounds. They had juveniles, old ones, girls and boys. They only thing you could’t see were the Joey’s that were still with their mothers. I did attend the talk about Koala’s and learned about Marsupials. I’m kinda creeped out that they’re born still being fetus like, but at least they’re hiding in their mother’s pouch. The talk also explored the dangers to Koala’s (most die from lack of food) and civilization. From their they talked about the work they do to help the Koala population. While you can always question sanctuaries that open their doors to tourists to make money and if they are taking advantage of their animals or in some cases abusing them. I did not feel this way about Lone Pine Koala. I felt like everyone there worked hard to take care of the Koala’s at the sanctuary and those in the wild too.
They did have other animals too, they had a big section with Kangaroos, which you could feed. It was nice that they were in the open, but the area had a lot of kangaroo poop too. It was nice that the Kangaroos had the good sense to stay in the shade too.
There were also birds, a Tasmanian Devil (which are ugly and just run around in circles), a small horse and a few other guys. None of these other animals were worth the visit alone, but enhanced the experience there.
I would recommend Lone Pine Koala if you’re in the Brisbane area and want to see Koalas. I would plan to spend around 3 hours there. I would suggest bringing your own lunch if it’s an option since the food wasn’t that great there.