Crikey [krahy-kee]: interjection; an Australian exclamation of surprise or bewilderment. Made famous by our late champion crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, the founder of Australia Zoo. And the perfect word to describe the buzzing excitement and magic of Australia Zoo!
Located in the beautiful Sunshine Coast lies Australia Zoo, a national Australian icon brimming with beautiful wildlife that are nurtured by a team of devoted conservationists working passionately to deliver the ultimate animal experience. Its vast growth and development is reflected in its journey from the mere 2-acre wide ‘Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park’ in 1970 by Lyn and Robert Irwin (Steve’s parents), expanding to the 4-acre wide ‘Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park’, to the now phenomenal 1500-acre wide ‘Australia Zoo’ run by the Irwin family (the late Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin, and their two children Bindi and Robert). Their philosophy that the ‘zoo animals come first, zoo team come second, and zoo visitors come third’ is reflected in over 100 different species of animals living together harmoniously in the zoo.
Brandon and I were spoilt with the Australia Zoo VIP package, including a special tour of the Australian Wildlife hospital, personal photo encounters with Giraffes and Koalas, watching the Wildlife Warriors show at the Crocoseum, a personal tour guide, goodie bag & the whole day to soak up the rich wildlife.
Our day started off meeting our lovely tour guide Gaynor at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, a dedicated wildlife hospital and rehabilitation centre separate from the main zoo. Its mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured, orphaned or displaced native wildlife is truly reflective in the whopping 76,963 animal patients admitted and nursed there since its establishment in 2004. Coming from a medical background, Brandon and I were astounded by the similarities of the wildlife hospital to human hospitals – there was a triage bay, operating table, x-ray and pathology labs, little wards, patient charts! Looking at the equipment resonated with that scene from Zoolander where his model building looks like a ‘centre for ants’ – the tiny ETT tubes, cannulas and bandages were so miniature! But hands down the highlight of the visit was meeting a local wildlife carer ‘Bev’ and her 4 teeny tiny wallaby joeys aged between 6wks to 1.5yrs whom were coming in for a local check-up – even Gaynor shed a quiet tear over the innocent little joeys! Any visitor can check out the Wildlife Hospital for a small $2 donation - a must see for anyone interested in the conservation and care of wildlife.
We eventually parted ways with the beautiful wildlife hospital and continued our journey into the main zoo! The zoo is split up into 5 regions according to the shuttle bus stops – station 1 (Reptiles), station 2 (Crocoseum), station 3 (Wetlands/ Roo Heaven), station 4 (South East Asia) and station 5 (Africa) – which visits stops every 20min and is highly recommended unless you’re a 10,000 steps per day fanatic! We rode the shuttle from stop 1 to 5 on arrival to “Africa” for our first animal feeding encounter with the giraffes. Most striking thing was how excessively long and strong giraffes’ tongues are – my two handed grip on some tree branches and carrots was no match for that feisty tongue!
Visitors can choose from a whole range of animal encounters - meerkats, lemurs, cheetahs, red panda or tigers to name a few! Roaming around Africa, we also stumbled upon zebras, rhinos and my absolute favourite animal ‘meerkats’ – their stoic hindleg posture and teeny paws sends me into a meltdown! Another huge attraction is Bindi’s island, a tropical paradise with its main attraction being a three-storey treehouse overlooking ring-tailed lemurs (who like to ‘move it move it’!).
Moving onwards to ‘South-East Asia’, you’ll find the main Tiger enclosure attraction featuring some very talented and friendly tigers, as well as the exotic red panda in its own separate enclosure. In the midst of the zoo at station 3 lies ‘Roo Heaven’, an open range enclosure for Red and Grey kangaroos that gives visitors a rare opportunity to pat and feed the roos – just purchase some roo food for $3! Around this area also lies the Wetlands, containing some weird and wonderful bird life.
The main attraction of the zoo is the Crocoseum, which features their famous 12pm ‘Wildlife warriors show’ hosted by the wonderful Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin on this special occasion. It offers a unique, educational and interactive experience with the Australia zoo wildlife, including their notorious crocodiles that exhibit their ferocity and calculated killing strategy during the show. Just a little warning if you have any aversion to birds to brace yourself during the show too! Also around the Crocoseum is the photo lab that gives you a unique opportunity for posed photographs with a koala, snake, bird or alligator. Your final destination at station 1 ‘Reptiles’ has an extensive array of wonderful reptile, including the Irwin favourite ‘crocodile’.
Australia Zoo is a must-see for any animal lover, not only to see the wonderful wildlife, but also to support the ongoing efforts of their devoted zoo conservationists who continue to uphold Steve Irwin’s legacy!
What: Australia Zoo
When: 364 days per year (open daily 9:00am – 5:00pm)
Where: 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, QLD, 4519
Contact: 5436 2000, https://www.australiazoo.com.au
My UQU Rewards Deal: 10% off admission ticket
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