From what I gather, kangaroos in Australia are a lot like deer in the United States – they’re cute but not particularly locally adored, they’re found on more than a few country menus, and should you find yourself driving on a dark and lonely path, they’re not above leaping out in front of you to test their own mortality and the generosity of your car insurance company.

That being said, since I did not grow up around kangaroos, or any of the other adorable and intriguing wildlife that fills the Australian landscape – koalas, wallabies, platypus, Tasmanian devils, wombats, dingos, etc. – I am always up for any opportunity involving a meet-and-greet with new and unfamiliar, and most likely precious, local animal life.

After previously visiting the sloths in Costa Rica, humpback whales on Maui and monkeys in Bali, we could not wait to visit the local koala sanctuary, which just so happens to be located an hour’s drive north of us in an unassuming corner of Brisbane, Australia.

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Australia’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

With over 130 koalas, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is not only the largest koala sanctuary in the world, but also the first. Visitors have the opportunity to hold a koala (!!), hand feed kangaroos (!!), browse the weekly Friday farmers’ market, and partake in any one of their pretty rad Wildlife Experiences, which we unfortunately didn’t have time for during our visit.

First off, let me just say that the only wildlife I could care less about – rare and supposedly majestic or not – are birds. And if you can include bats the size of 4-year-olds in that category, well then those too.

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I mean, just look at ’em, kissing each other and being all upside down and batty. Alright, well damnit, those ones are semi cute. Just semi, though. Like 37%, don’t get too excited.

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And then you’ve got sir Kookaburra there on top, with his long beak and stubby body. I feel ya, bro. Except for that beak part.

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Lastly in the bird category, you’ve got this owl lady giving you the stink eye, ’cause, you know, she’s a bird and automatically kind of rude. I kid. She probably has a really lovely personality… on Thursdays.

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Ahh, the elusive platypus! Though we didn’t get to see this gent for long, I still appreciate that we saw him at all. Way to be elusive and antisocial, pal. You do you.

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A strange and uncoordinated mix between a possum, rat and raccoon, the Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, and honestly, the goofiest fool I’ve seen in quite some time. And lest you think you’d like to adopt one and save them from the ways of this wild and unforgiving world, they’ve been known to eat sheep, cattle, wallabies, birds, reptiles, amphibians and generally whatever else they can find, including bones, fur and all. Ahem, next.

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Oh dear sweet lord we’ve made it to my new favorite animal, the wombat! Now, while I dearly wish I had a soundbite of the surprising noises emerging from this 22 year-old fellow, let me just tell you they are hilarious and charming and made me love him all the more.

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A bachelor koala doing what he does best – loungin’ for the ladies. Or gents. You never know, right? And Australia’s wild dog, the dingo! Wild still being the key word, of course. We all know what they’re capable of.

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I mean, does it get any more adorable than this? Methinks no. Sleepy, soft and playful, the koalas at the Sanctuary are split into likeminded groups – mamas and babies, single dudes, and such – and they’re all equally amazing. Hold one and thank me later.

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I suppose this is as good a time as any to tell you that perhaps my biggest fear in the world is coming face to face with an ostrich or emu. I am convinced their sole purpose on this earth is to peck your eyeballs out and generally terrify all living things, mostly me included. So it says a lot on my part that I was willing to physically be in the same open field as these giant devil birds in order to hand feed cute little wallabies and kangaroos. Because when else am I going to get the chance to pet these hoppy non-deer, right?! Hashtag face your fears, y’all.

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Medium roo on top, big ass roo on bottom.

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Look at these two, having an interspecies moment.

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Last but not least, don’t forget to pay these guys a visit. Reptiles need love too.


Sanctuary Basics:

  • Daily Entrance Fees (AUD) – Adult: $36, Child: $22, Concession: $24, Mini Family: $60, Family: $85
  • Hours – Open Daily from 9am to 5pm, except Anzac Day (April 25th), when they’re open from 1:30pm to 5pm
  • Contact Info – Phone: +61 7-3378-1366, Email: [email protected]

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Just look at him, winning his way into your beating heart!

Kickass photos taken by my always talented main boo, sir Peter Rimkus of Two Tank Photo. Big thanks to Lone Pine for having us out, and if you’re thinking twice about whether or not to hold a koala and feed a kangaroo whilst in Australia, quit thinking and do it to it, mate.