Your Guide to Visiting Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Published Categorized as Australia Travel, Destinations, Queensland Travel, Travel Blog
YOUR GUIDE TO VISITING AUSTRALIA ZOO: SUNSHINE COAST
YOUR GUIDE TO VISITING AUSTRALIA ZOO: SUNSHINE COAST

Located just a one hour drive north from Brisbane, Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast is famous because of Steve Irwin, whose television series The Crocodile Hunter made the zoo a popular tourist attraction. Steve worked hard to teach the country and the world about animals, their nature, their conservation and how important they are to the planet.

Australia Zoo is still owned by the famous Irwin family and is run by a passionate team of conservationists. Conservation is evident throughout the zoo and is taught through exciting exhibits, animal encounters, experiences and education.

Head to Africa and see a rhino, or South-East Asia to view beautiful tigers playing. Maybe you would like to cuddle a koala, or feed a kangaroo? Watch the playful meerkats and otters, or spot a sleepy wombat or Tasmanian Devil. Whatever you decide to do, don’t miss the Wildlife Warriors Show in The Crocoseum with all the slithering, swooping, jaw-snapping action of epic saltwater crocodiles, birds and snakes.

There are so many things to see and do at Australia Zoo, so we have summarised everything you need to know below to help you make the most of your next trip to Australia Zoo.

Are you planning a holiday to the Sunshine Coast? Check out these guides on Sunshine Coast things to do, exploring the Sunshine Coast hinterland towns and hiking trails.


Did You Know?

  • The record for the tallest living giraffe belongs to ‘Forest’. At 5.7 metres (18 feet 8 inches) to the top of the ossicones, Forest definitely towers above the rest! His record was verified by World Guinness Records at Australia Zoo on 4 December 2019.

“The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However, there are curiously few snakes, possibly because the spiders have killed them all. But even the spiders won’t go near the sea.”

– Jeremy Lee –

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YOUR GUIDE TO VISITING AUSTRALIA ZOO: SUNSHINE COAST

Australia Zoo Visitor Information

Location

Australia Zoo is located at 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, approximately 1 hour drive from Brisbane and 30 minutes’ drive from the Sunshine Coast.


How to Get There

Driving

If you are driving from Brisbane, follow the Bruce Highway northbound and take the Landsborough / Steve Irwin Way (Tourist Route 24) on the left. Follow Steve Irwin Way for approximately 18 kilometres without exiting and Australia Zoo is clearly marked on the right side, 3 kilometres past Beerwah.

If you are driving from the Sunshine Coast, follow the Bruce Highway southbound and take the Steve Irwin Way / Glasshouse Mountains exit (Exit 188) on the left. Follow Steve Irwin Way and Australia Zoo is


Train

If you are coming from the Gold Coast or Brisbane, you can catch a train to Beerwah Rail Station, and the zoo offers a free courtesy bus to transfer passengers from the station to the zoo. 


Opening Hours

Australia Zoo is open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm.


Tickets

Cost of entry to Australia Zoo is:

  • Adult – AUD$59 / USD$44
  • Pensioner – AUD$47 / USD$35
  • Student – AUD$47 / USD$35
  • Child (3 – 14 years) – AUD$35 / USD$26
  • Family 4 Admission (2 adults and 2 children) – AUD$172 / USD$130
  • Family 5 Admission (2 adults and 3 children) – AUD$189 / USD$142
  • Child under 3 years – FREE

There are also other options for ticketing including:

  • Admission with Hospital Sneak Peak
  • 2 day passes which must be used within 14 days of your first entry
  • Annual Pass – Adults: AUD$139 / USD$ 104, Children AUD$99 / USD$74

Please Note: Animal experiences cost extra

Meerkats - Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast
Meerkats – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Getting Around Australia Zoo

There are over 110 acres to explore on the grounds of the zoo, so be prepared and wear appropriate footwear.

Alternatively, Steve’s Safari Shuttle is a complimentary open sided bus and will take you to and from Africa. Shuttles operate on a regular basis throughout the day.

If you would like a more personalised experience, book a customised Caddie Tour where you will be chauffeur driven around the park with a knowledgeable tour guide.


Food and Drink

There are a number of dining options located throughout the zoo including:

  • Crikey Café – serving burgers, pizza, hot chips, sandwiches, sushi, salads, coffees and desserts
  • The Laughing Frog Lolly Shop and Ice-Creamery
  • Africa Kiosk – serving coffee, pies, drinks, ice-creams
  • Situated throughout the zoo you will also find water fountains, chilled water refill stations and vending machines

Additional Facilities

  • Playgrounds – The Laughing Frog Water Park, jumping pillow, teacup ride, shaded playground
  • Free Car Parking
  • EFTPOS and ATM’s
  • Free Wi-Fi (certain areas)
  • Locker Hire
  • Pram / Wheelchair / Motorised Scooter Hire
  • Photography Lab (where you can view and collect your animal photos)
  • Gift Shops

Top Tips

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, sun protection i.e. a hat and sunscreen, bring a water bottle (can be refilled at the chilled water refill stations), and don’t forget your camera.
  • Do not bring food from home for the animals (the correct food can be purchased from the Kids Zoo and Kids Shop)
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Iguana – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Australia Zoo history

Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast was originally established by Bob and Lyn Irwin in 1970 and was called “Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park”. Steve Irwin, nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter”, had helped his parents throughout his childhood in the running of the park and caring for the crocodiles and reptiles.

By the 1980’s, the park grew to double its size to 4 acres (1.6 hectares) and the name was changed to the “Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park”. 

In 1991, Steve and Terri took over the running of the park and changed the name to “Australia Zoo”. The filming of the worldwide famous television series “The Crocodile Hunter” (1996 – 2007) generated additional income which was put into conservation and the building of new exhibits in the zoo.

In 2004, the zoo opened the Australian Animal Hospital in a shed next to the zoo to help with animal care and rehabilitation. The facility cared for approximately 6,000 animals per year.

Steve died in 2006 after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb. Today, Australia Zoo is carried on by his wife Terri, and children Bindi and Robert.

Australia Zoo has won many awards over the years including:

  • Gold in the Australian Tourism Award for Major Tourist Attraction (2003 and 2004)
  • Silver in the Australian Tourism Award for Major Tourist Attraction (2013)
  • RACQ People’s Choice Award – Experience & Services (2019)
  • Gold in the Queensland Tourism Awards for Major Tourist Attraction (2010 and 2012)
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Rhino – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Australia Zoo Experiences

Visitors can choose from a variety of unique and exciting experiences throughout the day including a huge range of free daily shows and some truly hands on experiences.


Exhibits

The Crocoseum

The Crocoseum stadium at the zoo provides the perfect arena to display some of the most amazing animals on earth including not just crocodiles, but animals such as snakes and an amazing free-flight bird show.

One of Steve Irwin’s lifelong dreams was to provide Australia Zoo visitors with the opportunity to learn all about how crocodiles live and behave in the wild. In the wild, crocodiles camouflage themselves in murky water, making it difficult to see just how close they really are. In the clear waters of The Crocoseum you can watch them silently stalk their prey then launch at their food with jaw snapping verocity. It highlights the dangers that can be lurking just below the surface of a seemingly serene billabong.

The Crocoseum is also home to the ‘Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Show’, and concerts such as the Summer Down Under series.

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Crocodiles – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Africa

Steve’s dream was to build an African Safari Park and in 2011, the zoo opened its African Safari exhibit. It is a replica of the Serengeti ecosystem and showcases giraffe, rhino and zebra interacting as they would in the wild. There is also an area with meerkats on display near the Africa Kiosk. You may even see a cheetah walking by. The Africa exhibit includes Queensland bottle trees representing the native African baobab tree and mock kopjes as seen in southern Africa.


The Tiger Temple

In the last 60 years the world has lost three sub-species of tiger; the Balinese, Caspian and Javanese tigers. With continuous habitat destruction, poaching and prey depletion, the Sumatran tiger could be next in line with fewer than 350 remaining in the wild.

With an estimated 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild, The Tiger Temple allows visitors to see both Sumatran and Bengal tigers up close and learn about how we can help save them. There is even an underwater viewing area to watch them playing in the waters of the swimming pool, and you can witness the handlers keeping them entertained with plenty of toys and games.


Rainforest Aviary

The outdoor walk-through Rainforest Aviary is an aviary housing about 150 birds, the majority of which are native to Australia. There is also a Birds of Prey aviary which holds various species of raptors and other predatory birds such as a wedge-tailed eagle, brahminy kite and whistling kite.

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Macaw – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Bindi’s Island

Bindi’s Island is a three-story treehouse built around a replica fig tree. It offers panoramic views of Australia Zoo, including the adjacent lemur island.


Crocodile Environmental Park

The Crocodile Environmental Park area is designed to replicate the billabongs of northern Queensland and act as a safe haven for rescued wild crocodiles.


Roo Heaven

Walk among red kangaroos, grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, rock wallabies and red-necked wallabies in Roo Heaven. Watch them roam around and relax in their home, or purchase some food at the Australia Zoo Information Desk or any of our gift shops, and hand feed and pat one of Australia’s most iconic animals.


Koala Walkthrough

In the Koala Walkthrough you can see lots of koala’s up in the trees, sleeping and eating, and you may the opportunity to pat one of them.


 Roving Wildlife

One of the unique features of Australia Zoo is you never know when a roving animal may appear. The Australia Zoo roving wildlife team give you the chance to meet koalas, wombats, possums, dingoes, blue tongue lizards, skinks, pythons, alligators, macaws, cockatoos and many more. Keep your eye out and you’ll be able to get a photo with these remarkable creatures.

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Koala – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Conservation Shows

10:00am Tortoises LIVE!  

Jarvis and Igloo, giant Aldabra Tortoises, are fed their favourite food – fruit and veggies. A presentation by the zoo keeper also explains where Aldabra tortoises originate, how much they eat, and much more about the species.


11:15am Parrots LIVE!

You will see the Australian native parrots and South American macaws being trained and the keepers will answer commonly asked questions about the parrots and how they are cared for at the zoo.


(Check times @ The Tiger Temple) Tigers LIVE!

See these amazing big cats run, jump and swim at Tiger Temple, built to resemble the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.


1:15pm Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Show

Be taken on a journey of discovery and learn all about the incredible world of giant snakes, colourful, soaring birds, and the saltwater crocodile in the world-famous Mount Franklin Crocoseum.


3:00pm Koalas LIVE!

Get up close and personal and admire our best-known Aussie icon, whilst learning all about the amazing habits of this unique and adorable species, including how you can help them in the wild!


3:00pm Birds Of Prey LIVE!

Marvel at beautiful birds of prey such wedge-tailed eagle, powerful brahminy kite, barking owl or blue-winged kookaburra. Admire these magnificent birds up close, learn from the passionate keepers and appreciate how spectacular these animals really are.

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Tiger – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Animal Encounters

Steve Irwin once said, “When people touch an animal, the animal touches their heart. And instantly, we’ve won them over to the conservation of that species.”

Please Note: Additional cost apply for the encounters listed below. Click here for pricing.

  • 8:30am – Tiger Walk Encounter
  • 9:00am – Rascally Red Panda Encounter
  • 10:00am, 2:30pm and 3:30pm – Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Tour
  • 10:00am and 3:00pm – Mischievous Meerkats Encounter
  • 10:00am – Regal Eagle Encounter
  • 10:45am – Utterly Outrageous Otters Encounter
  • 11:00am – Ripper Rhinos Encounter
  • 11:15am and 11:30am (Fridays & Sundays only) – Colossal Komodo Encounter
  • 11:30am and 12:00pm – Cuddly Koala Encounter
  • 11.30am – Naughty Wombat Encounter
  • 12:15pm and 3:15pm – Giant Giraffe Snapshot
  • 12:30pm – Totally Tortoise Encounter
  • 2:45pm – Spiky Little Echidna Encounter
  • 3:30pm – Leapin’ Lemurs Encounter
  • All Day – Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Sneak Peek
  • All Day – Feed Our Kangaroos and Wallabies

Zoo Keeper for a Day

During the Queensland school holidays, children aged four years and up can take part in one of the Zoo Keeper for a Day Programs allowing them to go behind-the-scenes with some amazing wildlife. The program includes lunch, a photo, a gift and the opportunity to explore “behind the scenes” at the zoo and help to care for some of the animals.

  • Khaki Explorer Program (Age 4 – 6)
  • Khaki Discovery Program (Age 7 – 11)
  • Khaki Extreme Program (Age 12 – 16)

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital opened in 2004 and was inspired by the wonderful work of Steve’s mum, Lyn Irwin, who was a pioneer in wildlife care. This is the largest hospital of its kind in the world and even provides an animal rescue service.

For an additional cost of $2 per entry ticket, you can take a sneak peek at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and see some of the zoo’s incredible vets and nurses at work from behind the glass of the dedicated viewing area. If you have a budding vet or wildlife warrior in the family, you can book and pay for a “Behind the Scenes” tour of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital which will show how doctors care for sick and injured animals brought in by our volunteers.

Some of the animal stories will touch your heart and you’ll leave the hospital with a much greater understanding of our Australian Wildlife and the troubles they face. All proceeds from the tours go towards caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife.

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Red Panda – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

Top Tips – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

  1. Once you have paid for your entrance, head straight to the African section either by walking through the park or taking a complimentary ride on Steve’s Safari Shuttle. We have found it is best to get to Africa as early in the day as possible as there is little shade here and it can get very hot. We then slowly make our way back through the zoo over the rest of the day.
  2. The Australia Zoo Birthday Club is fantastic if you have children! Sign up online and on your child’s birthday they’ll get free admission, a birthday badge and a wildlife photo. Family and friends visiting the Zoo with the birthday child will receive a 10% discount.
  3. Visit Australia Zoo during the school holidays for the best chance of seeing one of the Irwin’s (Terri, Bindi or Robert) wandering around the zoo.

In Summary – Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast

With its proximity to Brisbane, Australia Zoo: Sunshine Coast makes for a fantastic day trip. There are so many attractions and  things to see and do, so we hope our summary will help you make the most of your next trip to Australia Zoo.

Have you visited Australia Zoo? Are you planning a visit and looking for recommendations of things to see and do? Post your tips and questions below.


Exit 45 Rating

The Exit45 Rating scale runs from a low of 1 to a high of 5 in each of the 9 categories.  As such, the higher the score out of 45, the better the Exit45 Rating.  N.B. These scores are our own personal opinions and are based on our experiences, budget constraints and what we love doing i.e. adventure seeking foodies who love snorkelling and water related activities.

Value for Money4.5
Cuisine4
Friendliness of Staff5
Ease of Language Barrier5
Climate4
Activities and Tours4.5
Ease of Travel4.5
Culture Barrier5
Safety5
TOTAL EXIT45 RATING41.5 / 45

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YOUR GUIDE TO VISITING AUSTRALIA ZOO: SUNSHINE COAST

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By Peta Wenzel

We are Peta (Australian) and Jonas (Swedish/Australian), a couple in our mid 40’s / early 50’s who have been travelling the world fulltime since January 2018. We met and lived on the Gold Coast, Australia and spent many evenings researching and watching YouTube vlogs about travel and dreaming of the day we would retire and be able to enjoy a lot more travel ourselves. Over the years, a number of events happened to family and friends and an opportunity arose which made us decide to not wait but to instead take a “Gap Year”. We are now in our 3rd year of travel and still hunger for new adventures and embrace the uncertainty that comes with full-time travel. If you want to know more about who we are, why we choose this lifestyle and how we do it, please follow our adventures and see how you can do it too.

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