Probably my best and favourite memory of Brisbane in Australia was visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (website). Apparently the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. I had really wanted to visit a sanctuary when I was in Alice Springs but unfortunately the dates I was there didn’t work for the dates they were open. I had no idea about Lone Pine either before I arrived in Brisbane, but my Airbnb host told me about it when she was making suggestions for things to do in the city. Obviously I should have done some research before I arrived but I will forever be thankful of that Airbnb host because I got to hold a koala. And I have the pictures to prove it. Well, and remind me of the joy as I get older and start to forget things.
Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Koalas are just these cute, sleepy, cuddly animals with sharp claws and spiky, course fur. They aren’t overly soft or friendly really. But hey, if you were always tired and wanting to sleep but instead random people kept wanting to hold you and cuddle you, wouldn’t you be cranky? The staff at Lone Pine are wonderful though. They hold the koala, you stand on an exact spot, they tell you how to place your hands, then they gently place the koala in your arms. If something is even slightly off or the koala doesn’t seem happy, they take them back from you. The koalas come first here. The pictures cost an additional fee of course but the staff will also happily take pictures for you using your camera. It was great because I was alone and I just wanted more than the one paid photo.
Cassowarys at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
I also got to FINALLY see a cassowary!! Or as I like to call them, dinosaur turkeys. They honestly look like one. Apparently the dinosaur turkey is everywhere in the Daintree Rainforest but of course I never saw one. I was so happy when I finally got to see one at Lone Pine. It too was trying to be elusive and hide from me but I went searching for it. I almost stepped on a lizard crossing the path while I was looking but I kept going. Even though I almost missed my bus back into the city, I kept looking. Finally, I was rewarded with seeing a cassowary in real life, not just the life-size statue in the Daintree. And holy crap, it really does look like a dinosaur turkey. It’s basically a giant, bad-ass looking turkey. And unlike a regular turkey who at worst will chase you and peck at your hands and feet, the cassowary will hit and cut you with the big boney fin-like thing on the top of their head. They will also karate-chop you with the crazy, dagger-like claws on their feet.
Kangaroos at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Shortly before I visited Lone Pine I saw a video on Facebook of a kangaroo kicking someone and taking them out. So of course when I was visiting the sanctuary I was a bit cautious. They were very well behaved and quite wonderful though. Just laying in a field. Honestly, that was a bit of a surprise but it was also really cool. Lone Pine has this fenced off, wide open field for the kangaroos to roam around in. Us mere humans can enter through a gate and roam around with them. There was a separate fenced off area for the kangaroos where people can’t roam though. There were also signs all over saying to stay back from the kangaroos and don’t touch them. I didn’t get too close and I didn’t touch them but I did watch as other people sure did. It made me feel bad for the kangaroos but all in all Lone Pine seems to treat them very well. You can purchase special food to take in the field with you and feed the kangaroos too if you want.
Emus at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Oh, you know what else was in that open field? Emus. I enjoyed being so close to them and I figured they were as relaxed as the kangaroos. That was my mistake. I was standing there taking one’s picture when it decided to run at me. I kept thinking, oh this could be a great photo, I hope one of these turns out. Needless to say I didn’t recognize the situation I was in until the emu was right in front of me. Thankfully he must have realized how useless I would be to him so he ran past me. Apparently I was in a game of chicken without even realized it and I think I won.
The animals freely roam around in their pens, cages, or some kind of open containment. Except for that lizard I almost killed. Animals like wombats, Tasmanian devils, dingos, platypus, raptors, and even reptiles (like turtles and two of the most venomous land snakes in the world) live at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. There is a schedule of shows, talks, feedings, and different photo opportunities so check it out when you first arrive because there is an entire day of activities if you want to experience everything.
Getting There and Other Stuff Not Animals
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is quite easy to get to. I caught the 445 public bus on Adelaide Street near City Hall in the CBD and the 40-45-minute trip ended in the parking lot of Lone Pine. Because of course they have their own public bus stop. You can even take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in Lone Pine to upload all the really cool animal photos to your social media. Or go shopping in the gift shop to take home even more memories. If you are planning on staying all day at the sanctuary, there is a café just outside the entrance. Inside the sanctuary there is a general store with an atm where you can also purchase café food, snacks, and drinks. There are several public washrooms throughout the park.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary helps and cares for animals but they are also an interactive centre. Enabling you to meet and learn about all the different animals. It really is a wonderful experience and I am so happy I was able to visit.