Top 5 (guaranteed) Australian animal encounters

We’re not going to lie. Queensland can be a pretty wild place. Our state is crawling (and slithering, climbing, swimming or flying) with amazing animals.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by a pod of dolphins as you paddle out for a surf. Or a goanna will slither past casually as you meander through the bush. Generally, however, our fascinating fauna blend cleverly into their natural surrounds. They’re hard to spot and sometimes impossible to see up close.

So, for a guaranteed encounter with some of our coolest creatures, check out these top animal experiences.



Image by Eliza Detrez

Our most famous inhabitant, koalas are at the top of many travellers ‘must meet’ list. Not even Oprah could resist a moment with these cute mammals. There are plenty of options throughout Queensland for you to meet, cuddle or have a photo with our furry friends.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
Paradise Country, Gold Coast
Dreamworld, Gold Coast
Cairns Tropical Zoo, Palm Cove
Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville
Bungalow Bay Koala Village, Magnetic Island
Hamilton Island, Whitsundays
Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast


Dolphins are as playful as they are clever and love a little attention, especially when there’s food involved. If you’ve dreamt of getting close to these vibrant mammals, then we’ve got a few encounters to get your flippers flapping.

Hand feed wild dolphins on Moreton Island off Brisbane. Each evening the shallow waters around Tangalooma Island Resort become a sanctuary for dolphins and a haven for guests to hand feed these gentle marine creatures.

Meet the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins as they swim in to Tin Can Bay each morning for a feed with Barnacles Dolphin Centre. They generally arrive between 7am and 8am each morning and you can hand-feed them for $5.

For an even closer encounter, get your swimsuit on and sign up for a frolic with the dolphins at Sea World.


Between July and November, Queensland’s coastline becomes a playground for humpback whales as they migrate from the Great Barrier Reef to the Southern Ocean. And boy do these giants like to play.

If you want to get close to the action, rather than watching from the shoreline – we’ve got a few places that offer front-row seats.

Hervey Bay, The Whale Watching Capital of Australia
Whale One, Mooloolaba
Brisbane Whale Watching, Redcliffe
Sea World Whale Watch, Gold Coast


Baby turtle overcomes rock obstacle to make its way down to the water

Image by @laurenepbath

Did you know turtles venture countless kilometres through open ocean to lay their eggs on the same beach they hatched on years earlier?

For thousands of turtles, this remarkable journey ends on the beaches of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, where female turtles drag themselves up the sand to lay around 150 eggs before returning to the ocean. Six weeks later, a new journey starts for masses of tiny turtles that emerge from the sand and scurry down the beach to water.

If you’re keen to witness this natural wonder, there are two places in Queensland offering guided evening tours that operate from November and January for nesting, and January to March for hatching.

Mon Repos Conservation Park, Bundaberg
Heron Island, Gladstone

Saltwater Crocodiles

Looming under the surface of a North Queensland waterway is the not-so-cute but very cool, saltwater croc. Made famous by the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, this iconic reptile is the biggest of its kind. Watching these giants snap up their prey is an encounter like no other.

If you are looking for animal action with a bit more bite, then head up north to spot some crocs in the wild or watch these giant jaw-snappers from dry land at Australia Zoo’s Crocoseum.

Daintree River Wildlife Cruise, Daintree
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Port Douglas
Koorana Crocodile Farm, Rockhampton
Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast

What has been your most memorable animal encounter in Queensland?