- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (QLD): Cuddle a koala (and have your photo taken doing it) at this park in Brisbane, the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. Apart from some 130 koalas, lots of other Aussie wildlife—including wombats, Tasmanian devils, ’roos (which you can hand-feed), and colorful parakeets—are on show.
- Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (QLD):Cruise a beautiful lagoon surrounded by paperbark trees to spot crocodiles in their natural setting and then watch the daily “croc attack” at Australia’s original croc show. There are also snakes, koalas, cassowaries, and other animals to see at this family-run wildlife park just north of Cairns.
- Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (QLD): Walk through the biggest butterfly “aviary” in Australia, in Kuranda, near Cairns, and you’ll spot some of the most gorgeous butterflies on the continent, including the electric-blue Ulysses. See many species of butterfly feed, lay eggs, and mate and inspect caterpillars and pupae. Wearing pink, red, or white encourages the butterflies to land on you.
- Heron Island (QLD): You’ll spot wonderful wildlife on this “jewel in the reef” off Gladstone any time of year, but the best time to visit is November to March, when the life cycle of giant green loggerhead and hawksbill turtles is in full swing. From November to January, the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. From late January to March, the hatchlings emerge and head for the water. You can see it all by strolling down to the beach, or join a university researcher to get the full story. Mon Repos Conservation Park, near Bundaberg in Queensland, is another good turtle-watching site.
- Moonlit Sanctuary (VIC): For the chance to see many of Australia’s nocturnal animals, including some (such as the eastern quoll, the red-bellied pedmelon, and the southern bettong) that are now extinct in the wild, take a guided night tour at this sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.