If you are lucky enough to be visiting the Sunshine Coast, one place well worth visiting is Australia Zoo. One of Australia’s best animal parks, Australia Zoo is an Aussie icon just like Steve Irwin himself. Australia Zoo has become a favourite for Australians and international guests alike, with a wide range of wildlife, educational opportunities and up close animal encounters. It is a great place to visit for adults and children both, and one we recommend making time to see. And Australia Zoo with young children is a super fun day out!
Visiting Australia Zoo With Young Children
Australia Zoo is located in Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast, near the Glasshouse Mountains area, which is about a 90 minute drive from Brisbane. The zoo stretches across a massive area of land, having grown from its humble beginnings as a small reptile park started by Steve Irwin’s parents in the 80s, to the massive zoo and animal conservation site that it is today.
The zoo is home to wildlife from all across the world, from native Australian fauna such as kangaroos, koalas, wombats and lizards, to the breathtaking creatures from the African plains and everything in between. Although Simon’s favourite has always been the otters after a funny time spent watching them go crazy hypo around the enclosure on our first visit so many years ago. They were not as energetic on this visit.
Australia Zoo pride themselves on their conservation efforts and raising awareness of the importance of animal safety, dangers and how we humans can do something to help. They are the Wildlife Warriors, just as Steve Irwin intended, in all his years of work before his tragic passing.
Visiting Australia Zoo, does always bring some sadness though, seeing Steve up on the big screen during the main screen, or seeing his photos and the bronze statue of the Irwin family at Australia Zoo is a reminder that a man with so much passion and determination to make a difference was taken far too soon!
We recently had our 3rd visit to Australia Zoo, although our first in about 10 years. it was our first time to Australia Zoo with kids of our own, but we have previously visited with my niece when she was just a toddler. In that time the zoo has expanded and there are some wonderful new exhibits and features, although a couple were under construction during our visit, including the Tiger Temple sadly. Thankfully we got up close with a couple of gorgeous tiger cubs still though, during their walk through the zoo early in the day.
In fact, right after opening is some of the best opportunities to get up close with animals of different species. Several of the animal handlers were near the entrance with birds in very large bird cages, snakes, lizards and other creatures, ready for photo opportunities and to teach visitors more about the animal they were holding.
Visiting Australia Zoo with young children proved to be the fun adventure we hoped it would be. We were very impressed with our normally incredibly shy 3 year old willingly patted a snake and wanted to be in a photo. Normally she refuses photos at times like this. But the fact that it was first thing during the visit is a very smart choice on behalf of the zoo, when visitors are fresh and happy… before the afternoon exhaustion sets in!
And our almost 1 year old, who was only a week off her first birthday thought all the animals were super cool. She hasn’t got an ounce of fear in her and she loved seeing some of the animals up close.
One of the big highlights of the day is watching the main show in the Crocosseum, which goes for about half an hour and is very engaging for all ages. There is only one show a day and it is spot on midday, so you won’t want to miss it. During the show the handlers introduce a range of animals, including their birds of prey, which fly across the arena over head and land nearby. This had both our kids very excited, until our littlest miss couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer and drifted off.
They also bring out a big crocodile and provide a great education on crocodile safety, while giving a bit of a thrill as they feed the dangerous giant. The sound of that jaw snapping is like a shotgun. Crazy!
And yes, you do need most of a day to visit Australia Zoo. You will do a lot of walking. Be prepared! I did 3 times my usual step count according to my Garmin Vivofit step tracker! LOL
Australia Zoo is located in Beerwah, Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia near the Glasshouse Mountains. You can pre-purchase tickets online on their website or in person on the day.
Children under 3 years old are free of charge. There are day passes, 2 day passes and annual passes available for purchase or the option of family passes for 2 adults and 2 children or for 3 children. Current prices can be found on their website here.
All general attractions are included in the admission price, however extra experiences at cost such as animal encounters and zoo tours in a golf buggy, which could be the perfect option for visiting Australia Zoo with young children, to save those little legs.
Tips for Australia Zoo With Young Children
- Pre-book tickets to move through the entry process quicker (and save $$$)
- Make sure you have a hat, sunscreen and covered shoulders to avoid sunburn
- Take a couple of water bottles
- Pack snacks, especially if visiting with kids
- Good walking shoes are essential
- Make sure the camera or phone is charged for photo opportunities – but don’t forget to live in the moment too!
- A packed lunch is a good way to save money
- Make sure you don’t miss the main show at midday every day
- Beware of bumps and potential tripping hazards visiting Australia Zoo with young children – within our first hour, our excited 3 year old took a stack down a path resulting in a grazed knee and tears
- Let your children take their time with getting close to animals when the opportunity is presented. We don’t want to scare them by rushing them into a potentially scary situation.
- Have fun!