Mount Lofty, South Australia
Where to have a koala encounter
Meeting a koala is a wildlife experience like no other. Here's where to experience this special moment for yourself.
There’s only one country on Earth where you can cuddle a koala – Australia! This unforgettable wildlife experience is only available in select sanctuaries and wildlife parks, and visits are carefully monitored to protect the health and safety of the koalas. Whether you hold, hug or even eat breakfast with a koala, it's an encounter you won't forget.
Here are a few of the best experiences on offer.
Cuddle a koala in Queensland
Queensland is one of three Australian states that allows visitors to hold a koala. The world’s first and largest koala sanctuary is located just outside of Queensland's sunny capital city, Brisbane. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to more than 130 koalas, and you can hold one any day of the week. The carers at Lone Pine select only a few of their koalas to meet guests to ensure the animal has a suitable personality and temperament. Some koalas are so comfortable in the arms of humans that they even doze off for a nap.
There are plenty of opportunities to snuggle up with a koala outside of Brisbane, too. Bring home the ultimate photo souvenir from Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast. While you're here, pay a visit to the wildlife hospital, which treats injured animals and releases them back into the wild.Show more
Have a hug in South Australia
Kangaroo Island, with wide open spaces and stunning coastal cliffs, is like one big animal sanctuary. The island, located off the coast of South Australia, is home to everything from sea lions to wallabies and dolphins, and is hugely popular with wildlife spotters.
There’s a good chance you’ll see koalas in the wild on the island, but for a close-up encounter, head to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park where you can hold koalas and get a picture taken for all your Instagram followers. If you're up for a different type of wildlife encounter, sign up for a reptile session, where you can hold snakes and lizards.
If you'd rather stay closer to the city, visit Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills, just a 20-minute drive from Adelaide's city centre. Here, you can hold and hug a koala, among many other wildlife activities. You'll also have the chance to hand-feed kangaroos, emus, wallabies and potoroos.
You can also hold a koala at Gorge Wildlife Park at the appropriately named Cudlee Creek, a 40-minute drive from Adelaide.
Hold a koala in Western Australia
You can cuddle koalas in Western Australia, too — as long as you go to Cohunu Koala Park, just over a half-hour drive from Perth.
Cohunu currently has more than 25 koalas alongside its largely free-roaming emus, wallabies, dingoes, deer, swans, owls, and 30 talking parrots. If you like, you can spot the animals from the comfort of a miniature train that chugs around the park.
Get up close to a koala in the East
Featherdale Wildlife Park is the perfect stop on the way to the beautiful Blue Mountains. Take the day trip on your own, or book a tour with Featherdale on the itinerary.
In New South Wales, you aren’t allowed to hold a koala, but you can get up close to one at numerous venues, including Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney, where you can meet and pat a koala — or even have breakfast with one if you prefer.
In Victoria, cuddles with koalas aren't permitted due to state laws, but Ballarat Wildlife Park allows you to get up close with a koala as it rests on a branch. You can also spot koalas in their native habitats in Gippsland. On Raymond Island, Ride the Koalas let you rent two- and four-seater bikes from which to gaze up at koalas in the treetops.