Australia Zoo is a good place to see the iconic wildlife of “Down Under,” such as pouched marsupials and scaly reptiles. What makes the zoo so unique is that the world-famous crocodile wrestler Steve Irwin called it home. Come and see his legacy: a thrilling Australian animal kingdom that also includes species from around the globe.
Irwin’s parents started a local wildlife sanctuary in the 1970s. Young Steve showed amazing reptile-handling skills and later became world famous as the “Crocodile Hunter.” With his American wife Terri he expanded the reserve to include international species. The wildlife warrior was fatally wounded, not by a croc but by a stingray barb, in 2006. Terri now runs Australia Zoo and their kids Bindi and Robert appear in Crickey! magazine, a TV show and on merchandise.
Start with visiting Australia’s unique creatures. Enter the kangaroo enclosure to feed the docile marsupials; they might be carrying a cute joey in their pouches. Also check out the fat wombats, growling Tasmanian devils and cuddly koalas. A highlight is the Crocoseum, where handlers feed and play with enormous “salties.”
See the zoo’s Asian elephants swim and socialize at Elephantasia, an enclosure with statues, fountains and forests. At the nearby Tiger Temple, you can see endangered Sumatran and Bengal tigers swim underwater from the special viewing area. Next up is the African Savannah, where zebras, giraffes and rhinos share one arid enclosure. The zoo also houses predatory birds, deadly snakes, Komodo dragons, cheetahs and many more species.
Take a tour of the on-site animal hospital or attend one of the handling and feeding demonstrations. There are also guided tours, including a Platinum Adventure, which includes behind-the-scenes animal encounters. These activities all have an extra fee.
Australia Zoo is on Steve Irwin Way in Beerwah, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Brisbane. Get there by car, train or bus. Or, there’s the option to buy a ticket that includes your admission plus transport to and from the zoo on special coach. The zoo is open daily except major public holidays. You pay extra for personal wildlife encounters, but proceeds go towards animal conservation.