Australia Zoo is a major tourist attraction in Queensland, as much because of the legacy of Steven Irwin as the zoo itself. While the place is big, yes, it isn't quite as special as the high entrance fee ($59.00 for adults) would have you believe.
The zoo can be found to the north of Brisbane, in Beerwah in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It takes up 40 hectares and there are shuttle buses to help visitors get around.
Like most zoos, upon entering there are a whole lot of small enclosures, here housing otters and reptiles. The rest of the space features crocodiles, plenty of Australian animals (including cassowaries), some wetland birds, tigers and an African section. The binturong was one animal I saw that I had never even heard of before.
There are lots of Australian animals, like wombats
One animal I refused to miss was the red panda
Rhinos in the African section
Special presentations run throughout the day and the best one in my opinion is Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, held at lunchtime and featuring a range of animals. A highlight of my visit, it impressed me from the beginning when birds started flying around the small stadium in formation before retreating into the crowd where their handlers stood.
A crocodile was the finale to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors show
You can see the otters get fed twice a day
Australia Zoo doesn't have a huge range of animals but it does very well for itself when it comes to the additional experiences on offer. You can enjoy a close encounter with lots of animals, take a tour of the hospital or join one of the keepers on their rounds. The experiences can get expensive though; one of the cheapest, having your photo taken while holding a koala, costs $40.00 here but only $20.00 at nearby Queensland Zoo.
A cheaper and more accessible experience involves getting a photo taken while patting one of the 'roving' animals keepers bring around. You can buy the professional photo, but you're also able to snap your own. Other cheap activities include camel rides and Bindi's Boot Camp, a free set of challenges for kids that offers a nice change at the end of the day.
Where:1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, QLD 4519
When: 9.00am to 5.00pm every day, except Christmas Day
Cost: Adult: $59.00, Pensioner/Student: $47.00
Web:http://www.australiazoo.com.au/ Phone: (07) 5436 2000