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8 of the Best Aussie Animal Encounters for Kids

Animal-loving kids will go wild for these incredible animal attractions in Australia, from zoos and wildlife parks to aquariums and sanctuaries. 

Here we have listed eight of our favourite Aussie animal encounters for kids, from kangaroos and koalas to giraffes, cheetahs, snakes, crocodiles and more! Even better, you can stay overnight at some of these attractions, with the chance to camp amongst wildlife or wake up to koalas outside your window. 

Have you visited any of these zoos and wildlife parks? Which are still on your family travel bucket list? 

Beautiful Siamang at Western Plains Zoo Dubbo NSW
Beautiful Siamang at Western Plains Zoo Dubbo, NSW

1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane QLD

Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary and the perfect place to actually cuddle one – or you could also experience a Reptile and Raptor encounter.

2. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast, QLD

A little girl at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Image Tourism and Events Queensland
A little girl at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Voted one of the Gold Coast’s most popular tourist destinations, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the crown jewel of the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) [NTAQ] properties.

Set aside a full day to experience over 1400 mammals, birds and reptiles on display in natural bushland and rainforest settings. Kids will also love to check out the work being done in the Wildlife Hospital, which rehabilitates native Auustralian animals. 

Established in 1947 by beekeeper and flower-grower, Alex Griffiths, the origins of the park are rooted in conservation efforts. Instead of hunting or displacing the flocks of wild lorikeets residing in the region, Griffiths sought to redirect their attention from ravaging his prized blooms by providing regular feedings each day. Thus, a wildlife sanctuary was born.

Visitors can also have a birds-eye-view of vets working and performing surgeries at the onsite Wildlife Hospital. With an annual intake of approximately 8,000 animals, the hospital is one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world.

Younger kids will enjoy feeding the lorikeets and bigger kids will get their kicks flying over the enclosures on the TreeTop Challenge – which includes five large ropes and zipline courses for different age groups.

Purchase your Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Tickets here!

3. Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW

meeting a bettong in the sanctuary at wildlife retreat at taronga
Meeting a bettong in the sanctuary at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga

Sydney’s iconic zoo celebrated 100 years in 2016. Kids 12 to 17 years can be a Keeper For A Day Cadet and enjoy behind-the-scenes, interactive activities, or stay overnight at Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat.  

Buy your Taronga Zoo Sydney tickets here

Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Sydney, NSW

Shark Dive Xtreme at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary Sydney NSW
Shark Dive Xtreme at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Sydney, NSW

Shark Dive Xtreme is a serious animal encounter with seriously big (yet harmless) sharks, just inches from your face. (Min age 14 years.)

4. Australian Reptile Park, Central Coast, NSW

Ben and Angus at the entrance to the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast
Father and son at the Australian Reptile Park. Image: Ben Groundwater

Located just an hour from Sydney or Newcastle, the Australian Reptile Park is possibly the most interactive wildlife park in Australia. Feed a wallaby or bush kangaroo joey and a 200-year-old tortoise, take a selfie with a koala or giant python, see alligators and Elvis, the big saltwater croc. As one of the NSW Central Coast’s top family attractions for over 60 years, this park is a must-visit! 

5. Featherdale Wildlife Park, near Sydney, NSW

Wallaby Feeding at Featherdale Wildlife Park NSW
Wallaby Feeding at Featherdale Wildlife Park, NSW

Hand-feed kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos and pademelons at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Kids can also enjoy animal encounters with everything from cattle, crocodiles and reptiles to baby goats, pigs and rabbits in the farmyard.

6. National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra, ACT

Close encounters at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra 1
Close encounters at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra

Handfeed lions, tigers and bears, and walk with some friendly dingoes at Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium. The wildlife park is home to both native and exotic animals, as well as marine and freshwater fish, reptiles and frogs. 

There are so many ways to experience Australia’s only combined zoo and aquarium, but the five-hour Family Wonders of Wildlife Tour is undoubtedly the best, as kids can help provide food and enrichment to a whole variety of critters. This tour is designed particularly for families with younger children, encompassing the best of the zoo in a relaxed and safe atmosphere.

You can also book an up close and personal Animal Encounter to meet your favourite animals, including sun bears, cheetahs, giraffes, lions, lemurs and meerkats. 

For the ultimate experience, book your accommodation at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, a luxury overnight safari at the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra. Choose from one of three incredible accommodation options – Ushaka Lodge, Giraffe Treehouses and Jungle Bungalows – each with its own unique wildlife experience. 

Book your stay at Jamala Wildlife Lodge today 

7. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart, Tasmania

A Tasmanian devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Image Tourism Australia Graham Freeman
A Tasmanian devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Image: Tourism Australia Graham Freeman

For unique animal encounters in Tasmania, head to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, in Brighton. The Feeding Frenzy behind-the-scenes tour lets you feed daily treats to over ten different animals, birds and reptiles. 

Alternately, kids three and over can join a 2.5-hour night tour for the chance to hand-feed Eastern quolls and deliver dinner to Tassie devils, sugar gliders, and birds.

Book your Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary tickets (with optional feeding tour)

8. Western Plains Zoo Dubbo, NSW

A family feeding a giraffe at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo © Destination NSW
A family feeding a giraffe at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo © Destination NSW

Ever wanted to stay a night inside a zoo? There’s fantastic family accommodation at Dubbo’s Taronga Plains Zoo, including glamping-style Zoofari Lodge, cabins and camping sites. Enjoy your private sunset over the African Savannah where giraffe, eland and zebra roam, and wake to the Siamangs’ crazy whooping calls.

Animal View lodges at Zoofari Lodge at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo
Animal View lodges at Zoofari Lodge at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo

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