Cuddling a koala is high on the wish-list of many visitors to Australia – and Brisbane’s Lone Pine Sanctuary is one of the few places you can still do it.
Banned in New South Wales and Victoria, holding a koala is legal in Queensland under strict conditions. You can cuddle them for free at Lone Pine and have a photo taken holding one (for an extra fee); once you’ve paid, you can have some photos taken using your own camera, too. But be warned, they are not exactly the most cuddly of creatures in reality (and a wee bit smelly). If you can bear that, it’s a great souvenir to have.
But Lone Pine isn’t just about koalas—you can also hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies and get up close with emus, snakes, baby crocodiles, parrots, wombats,
Tasmanian devils, giant lizards, frogs, bats, turtles, possums, and other native wildlife.
When it opened in 1927, Lone Pine had only two koalas, Jack and Jill; it is now home to more than 130.
There are also a range of tours, focusing on koalas and other species, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour.
Lone Pine is in a lovely riverside bushland setting, and there is a restaurant and cafe, or you can take a picnic. And it’s open every day of the year, including Christmas Day.
The nicest way to get to Lone Pine is a cruise down the Brisbane River aboard the MV Mirimar, which leaves South Bank Parklands at 10am (note that the CityCats do not go to Lone Pine). The 19km trip to Lone Pine takes 75 minutes and includes commentary. You have 2.5 hours at Lone Pine before returning to the city.
By car, it is about 12km (a 20 minute drive) or you can also catch a bus from the city centre.
Tip: It’s cheaper to buy tickets online – you’ll save about three or four dollars per person. Family tickets are available.