From dangling over crocodiles to snuggling up to koalas, this round up of family friendly activities are all easily accessible from the Gold Coast.
20 minutes from the city
See the best of Oz fauna in one spot
A consistent presence among the high-rises and theme parks, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has long been a Gold Coast go-to. That’s probably because of its authenticity. Established in 1947 by floriculturist Alex Griffiths, what began as a simple bird-feeding project has developed into a conservation-based sanctuary for hundreds of species of Australian fauna. The feeding of the boisterous rainbow-coloured lorikeets is still the signature attraction but these days kangaroos, wombats, dingoes and koalas (have your photo taken while giving one a cuddle), as well as numerous conservation projects, complement the experience. There are also saltwater crocodiles, including five-metre Boss Hog – for an extra $79, you can feed the beast. Some of the best kids’ and family activities on the coast – including an unbeatable treetop rope course that allows you to zip-line over the crocs – are the final sweetener.
28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin; 1300 886 511
One hour from the city
Stroll through a koala forest
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a local secret compared with the internationally famous Australia Zoo, another hour up the freeway. Established in 1927, the park was the world’s first koala sanctuary and remains the largest. It’s a relaxed spot on the Brisbane River, with personable staff lending an educational aspect that never becomes stuffy. Holding a koala is, of course, the prized activity here but just wandering through the Koala Forest lets you get unbelievably close to the iconic marsupials. Elsewhere, there’s a free-range feeding area for kangaroos and emus, amphibian habitats, raptor shows and a unique platypus exhibit that allows you to familiarise yourself with the elusive egg-laying mammal. A day at Lone Pine is a rite of passage for most Brisbane kids so you’ll be mixing with plenty of locals, adding to the intimate feel of this exceptional wildlife sanctuary.
708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket; (07) 3378 1366
Two hours from the city
Feed the wild marine life
Of all the places to experience the abundant marine life of the Australian east coast, Tangalooma Island Resort strikes the perfect balance between authenticity and convenience. Just a 55-minute drive north, followed by a 70-minute boat trip to Moreton Island, the resort offers many activities that put you in touch with local aquatic life. The easiest is a fish-feeding and sightseeing tour around the Tangalooma Wrecks breakwater. More adventurous options include guided snorkelling tours and scooter safaris, where you’ll encounter up to 200 species of sea life, including reef fish, turtles and stingrays. Winter months add humpback-whale watching to the mix but perhaps the best way to take in the island is on a Dolphin Feeding Cruise. You’ll need a day but the pay-off is an opportunity to handfeed Tangalooma’s star attractions: wild bottlenose dolphins.