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How to get the most out of a day at Australia Zoo

The Sunshine Coast’s premier zoo attraction is world-renowned, and it’s not only Steve Irwin (AKA Crocodile Hunter) territory – it’s his legacy too. Looking to fill your animal planet passport in just one day? With over 1000 mammals, birds and reptiles, why not take a walk on the wild side with our Australia Zoo guide.

The what, how and why

Robert Irwin_Sign_Australia Zoo | Australia Zoo guide

Just an hour from Brisbane and spread out over 1000 forested hectares at Beerwah, Australia Zoo is the animal kingdom when it comes to the biggest and the best in the world.

Started by the late, great crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, and run by his wife Terri and kids Bindi and Bob, but it’s not only its family pedigree that make this place so special. The Sunshine Coast’s Australia Zoo has a huge heart when it comes to animal conservation too.

9AM: First Up – Crocs

Start your day with the obligatory photo of the larger-than-life Crocodile Hunter in the carpark, and then make your way in. Hire a pram if you have little kids, or consider a double buggy for a fun way to see the zoo without too much walking. (Australia Zoo is also very much wheelchair-friendly, with wide, smooth paths, low fences and glass viewing walls, and accessible bathrooms).

Crocodiles naturally still like to come first around here, so pay them their apex predator dues and head over to see them first. Make a mental note to come back at 12pm, when they join the Wildlife Warriors show in the Crocoseum, alongside birds and snakes.

This is one show you don’t want to miss and is considered the zoo’s best.

10AM: Bindi’s Island (with a side of Africa)

Bindi Irwin_Africa_Meerkats_AustraliaZoo | Australia Zoo guide

Jump on the complimentary shuttle at stop 1 and head to Bindi’s Island first. You can walk; but to save time (and give the kids a thrill) the shuttle is faster. Jump off at stop 5.

Burn some energy at Bindi’s Bootcamp first. Kids (and bigger ones) can complete the physical challenges “as seen on TV”, but make sure you’re ready at 10am for the giant Aldabran Tortoises Live Show.

Afterwards, meet meerkats and lemurs and explore the three-storey treehouse. From the top, you’ll nab the best views over the park for spotting giraffes, zebras and rhinos across the way in the Africa precinct. Keep your eyes peeled for cheetahs while you make your way there for a closer look.

11AM: Tiger Time 

From here it gets even wilder, with Sumatran and Bengal tigers in the aptly named Tiger Temple close by.

If you’re lucky, the big cats might go for a swim, but stick around for the Tiger Keeper Talk at 11.15am to learn more about these incredible felines and the conservation work being done by Australia Zoo to help them.

12PM: Wildlife Warriors 

Terri Irwin_feeding crocodile_Crocoseum_Australia Zoo

Jump back on the shuttle (at station 4) and hop off at the Crocoseum (station 2). Spend the next hour not daring to blink in case you miss any of the feeding, flying and slithering going on. Crocs, birds and snakes take centre stage for the Wildlife Warriors Show and it’s here you may also see the Irwins doing their thing.

The Cafe is close by, so afterwards grab yourself some lunch at the Feeding Frenzy Food Court. The family-first folk at Australia Zoo are happy for you to bring your own food, if you prefer to DIY.

This would also be a great time to check-in to the Crocodile Hunter Museum under the cafe. Keep some tissues on hand, as it’s quite possible you’ll tear up at the memorial to the Aussie treasure that was Steve Irwin.

1PM: Marsupial Mates

Robert Irwin_Koala_AustraliaZoo

Cheer yourself up with some koala spotting as you wander through the Koala Walkthrough, and stoke the happiness meter further by feeding the ‘roos. Roo food is available from a vending machine near the cafe, so make sure you pick some up at lunchtime.

A show not to be missed is the Koala Live Show at 1:30 pm. Learn about our Aussie icon, get a healthy whiff of eucalyptus and find out how we can help these little tree-huggers in the wild.

2PM: Take 2 for Tiger Tales 

For your double dose of tigers, return to Tiger Temple at 2pm to watch the agility of these incredible creatures as they show off their prowess on the land and in the water.

This is a very popular show, so get there early to learn about these critically endangered species, and what Australia Zoo is doing to improve their chances of survival.

3PM: Aussie animal encounters 

Robert Irwin_AustraliaZoo

A walk through the wetlands will introduce you to more Aussie friends. Expect emus, echidnas, brolgas, jabirus, wallabies and even more kangaroos. And if you have any food left over, you’ll find plenty of new best mates.

As you make your way back towards the entry, treat yourself to a sweet afternoon fix with a stop in at the Laughing Frog Lolly shop. The kids’ playground is opposite with a waterpark for cooling off, and afterwards, visit the dingoes, Tasmanian devils, turtles, cassowaries and binturongs nearby.

3.30PM: Adorable otters

At 3.30pm the fun really starts with the Afternoon Otters live show. Watch the cheekiest characters in the zoo show off in their aquatic playground and learn from their keepers why they are so unique and loved.

4 PM: Wildlife Hospital

Bindi Irwin_Wildlife Hospital_Australia Zoo

You’re probably a little tired by now, but there’s one special place that is not to missed: Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital, just outside the park.

Tickets can be purchased, with a “sneak peek” of the hospital included, for a $2 donation. And it’s here that some of the zoo’s best work is being done. See the vets tend to their patients from a special viewing area, and learn what your small donation could do for a sick or injured animal.

Get even closer

Get up close to your favourites in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with one of Australia Zoo’s animal encounters.

From cute and cuddly, to strong and stealth-like – all your favourites are here. Want to see more of the Zoo and meet a few in person? There are 23 encounters to choose from that take you behind the scenes (these change, so be sure to check Australia Zoo’s website for current opportunities).

Fancy being a zoo keeper for a day? Want to take a tiger cub or a wombat for a walk? Cuddle a koala, or get up close and personal with a rhino or cheetah? There’s a VIP experience to suit everyone – and an ultimate full day Platinum VIP Tour if you truly can’t decide.