Australia: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary offers up close experiences with koalas, emus and kangeroos

Awkwardly trying to hug an Emu at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia
Awkwardly trying to hug an Emu at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia

Perched in my seat on the tour bus, I listened intently as Dave, the guide, described the next stop on our day trip around Brisbane. Founded in 1927 by the Clarkson Family, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is now the world’s largest and oldest Koala sanctuary. The place started off quite modestly with only 2 koalas on 4.7 hectares of land. Currently, there is an estimated 130 Koalas.

Although Koalas are not listed in Australia’s endangered species list, the population of Koalas have dwindled. Historically, the cause of the population decrease was because Koalas were hunted and killed for their fur. Recently, the major threat to the Koala population is the destruction of their habitat. Koalas survive solely on a diet of eucalypt leaves, requiring on average about 18 oz. a day. Deforestation of areas rich in Eucalyptus trees is reducing the areas where Koala populations can thrive.

After hearing so much about Koalas, I thought that the only animals I would see on the visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary would be Koalas. Although I saw many of them and even got to hug a koala ($17 AUD), what was surprising was there were plenty of other animals to see as well. If you are at Lone Pine, do get a photo taken with a koala, it is one of the few places in the world where you can still do this. One of the reasons is that a reserve needs to have a lot of koalas since each koala is regulated not to be handled by visitors for more than 30 minutes a day. The fee for the photos help to support the sanctuary.

One stop was at the Kangaroo Reserve where I was able to spend some time with emus and kangaroos. The first animals to greet us were the emus and of course I couldn’t help it and wanted a photo of me hugging one. After getting some warnings from Dave, our guide, to be gentle and refrain from any sudden movements, I was able to get very close to an emu for a photo opportunity. Since there are a lot of visitors to Lone Pine, most of these animals are not completely wild and are used to human contact.

Past the emus were the kangaroos. As I approached two of them, I was not quite sure what they were doing. Then, a group of us realized what they were doing. Some were shocked, others started up their cameras. Can you tell what they are doing?

After some time with the kangaroos and a story by Dave about an incident where a man provoked a red kangaroo (these are a species of kangaroo which can be 6-7 feet tall) that ended up giving him a very strong kick, we all spread out to see the rest of the sanctuary.

I first went to visit the wombats and the Tasmanian devil before scurrying over the the Birds of Prey show. For the Birds of Prey show, you need to arrive on time to the show as the audience is led to a special viewing area to observe the birds in action.

The sheep dog demonstration was also a unique experience which I will share in a separate entry.
I accidentally stumbled on the Lorikeet feeding and decided to get in on some of the action. Of course, there were a couple of vultures that decided to join in on the feed. They are pretty ugly and scary looking birds up close…I had the same reaction to them as the turkeys that would come from the preserve and walk on our street in our home in San Jose, California. I try not let the way a species look impact my view of them…but it’s hard.

The final stop of course was to the gift shop. I noticed at the top of the wall of the gift shop were photos of celebrities holding koalas.

Overall, it was a fun visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and an experience of a life-time. Definitely check it out if you are around the Brisbane, Australia area.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

708 Jesmond Rd
Fig Tree Pocket QLD 4069, Australia
(07) 3378 1366
Website:www.koala.net

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Loni Stark
Loni Stark is a self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker, and yet is also passionate about technology’s impact on business and creativity. She's the host of our Stark Insider video features. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite. Loni's story...