Australia Zoo is one of the best known zoos in Australia, known in recent times as the home of the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and his family. The zoo was established in 1970 by Steve’s father, Bob, when it was known as the Beerwah Reptile Park and only covered a couple of acres. Since then it has expanded to seven hundred acres and encompasses a world-class wildlife hospital.
Some of you might have watched Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Hunter TV series which ran from 1996 to 2004. Steve was known around the world with his signature cry of ‘Crikey!’ (The show is still available on streaming services) Steve died in a sad underwater encounter with a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006 but the rest of the family carried on with the zoo. These days, Steve’s son, Robert, is very much the face of the zoo, with side roles from mum Terri, and big sister, Bindi.
We finally got our chance to visit the zoo and spent a happy half day walking through the beautiful gardens and meeting animals housed in big enclosures. I had my camera with me and I got some amazing pictures (as you’ll see). We didn’t attend the shows – we’ve seen several crocodile shows in various places – and kangaroos and wallabies weren’t high on the list (been there, done that).
Overall, we enjoyed a lovely day. It was a pleasure to meet the wildlife in this wonderful parkland setting. We paid a tiny bit extra for a quick peak at the zoo’s hospital where we could see through the glass walls the first class facilities which would rival any human hospital. Injured wildlife is sent to Australia Zoo from many places in Queensland and of course, income from the zoo helps to fund that work.
The park is well-organised, with places where people can eat, play, learn – and buy souvenirs like glove puppets, T shirts, caps, beanies and so on. Needless to say, souvenirs were expensive as they always are in these places. And we were disappointed at how many of the items were made in China. It’s the way of the world, I guess. There was also an art gallery where guests could buy copies of Robert Irwin’s wonderful photos of the animals and the environment.
In many places in the grounds there are statues of dinosaurs to give an understanding of the evolution of species. Here’s one example. They were favourites with the kids. Many families will be going home with photos of junior balanced on the back of some dinosaur – or in its jaws.
Apart from the learning experiences, the zoo also has a water park where kids (and grown-ups so inclined) can run around and get wet – perfect on a Summer’s day. It’s situated next to a restaurant and shops.
And here are some photos that I took.
This little koala was in the hospital in an area that seemed to me to be a recovery part of ICU. You can see on its forearm where the fur had been shaved to inject anaesthetic. He seemed to be quite chirpy and we caught him while he was awake.
There are several koala enclosures. After all, they’re on the bucket list for most overseas visitors. Koalas spend up to twenty hours a day sleeping but one of them was busy eating a meal. Here’s a short video.
Our first stop in the zoo proper was with the otters. The pair vocalised loudly for some time. I should have taken a video, but I didn’t. Still, I got some great shots.
The lighting was dim in the reptile house so I took a 13-second video of this anaconda slipping through its pool. It’s a BIG snake.
The zoo’s two Sumatran elephants enjoyed a dip in their pool and fished for apples thrown by their keeper.
The zoo has a number of giraffes. One baby tried hard to get a drink from mum but she kept moving.
There are other photos but they’ll give you some idea. If you’re in this part of the world, Australia Zoo is in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, about 80km (50 miles) from Brisbane. It’s well worth a visit.