Australia Zoo is located on the Queensland Sunshine Coast near the Glasshouse Mountains north of Brisbane. It is one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, and the Home of The Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin.
The Zoo has its origin back in 1970 when Steve Irwin’s parents, Bob and Lyn Irwin, bought four acres of land and started building the Beerwah Reptile Park. The park grew and stock increased, and in 1980 was renamed to the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park. During the 1980s Steve and Bob Irwin spent much of their time capturing rogue crocodiles together with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Some of these crocodiles were relocated to the wild, and some which could not be released were brought to the Irwins’ Park. In 1987 they opened a Crocodile Environmental Park on their property to assist with protection of the saltwater crocodile. The Crocodile Environmental Park became very popular especially for its display of crocodile feeding within the park. In 1991 Steve Irwin took over management of the zoo, and in 1992, the park was renamed to Australia Zoo. The park went from strength under the management of Steve and Terri Irwin, and Steve’s fame as The Crocodile Hunter increased the profile of the park as a tourist attraction for local and international travelers. The Zoo now cover over 29 hectares with plans for further expansion, and maintains over 1000 animals.
Best known for its crocodiles and other reptiles, Australia Zoo now has a significant number of other Australian and exotic animals. Australian wildlife includes Kangaroos, Koalas, Dingoes, Echidnas, Possums and Gliders, Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, Bettongs. Visitors can hand feed kangaroos and wallabies in a large open range area. The Zoo also features a smaller selection of animals from around the world, including Elephants, Tigers, Camels, Cheetahs, Foxes, Lemurs, Otters, Rhinoceros, Tamarins and Komodo Dragons. Reptiles on display apart from the crocodiles include boas and pythons, alligators, numerous lizards, tortoises and turtles, and a various snakes.
Every day there are numerous shows and presentations. At the Feral Fox and Camels presentation you will get to see the timid foxes close up get a chance to feed the slobbery camels. At the elephant talk you will get to hand feed the three Asian Elephants. Koalas spend most of their time asleep, but if you attend the Koala talk you will get the chance to see them awake.
The Crocoseum stadium with seating for 5000 is the realization of one of Steve Irwin’s dreams to provide the visitors with an educational crocodile show showed how crocodiles live and behave in the wild. Here the crocodiles can be seen interacting and being fed in clear water.
Tiger Temple is home to eleven tigers (six Sumatran Tigers and five Bengal Tigers), and also four cheetah. Tiger Temple is themed to look like a South-East Asian temple with bamboo and lush landscaping. Visitors get to see the tigers swimming, and there is even an underwater viewing area to watch them swim. Tiger Temple is enclosed by glass on two sides so visitors get a good view.
Elephantasia is Australia’s largest Asian Elephant enclosure opened in 2006 to house the three elephants at the Zoo. The Asian-themed exhibit features a deep pool with a fountain for the elephants and tropical gardens and shaded areas for the elephants. Visitors can participate in free elephant feeding sessions every day.
For additional cost, you can take part in various up close and behind the scenes animal encounters such as: Australian Wildlife Hospital Tours, Cheetah Walk, Dingo Encounter, Echidna Encounter, Elephant Encounters, White Rhinos Encounter, Tiger Photos, Tiger Walk, Tortoise Encounter, and Wombat Encounter.
Australia Zoo is situated on Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah about an hour drive north of Brisbane via the Bruce Highway. You can travel to the Zoo by car, bus or train. Queensland Rail Citytrain service operates between the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Beerwah, and an Australia Zoo courtesy coach meets most trains at the Beerwah Rail Station to transfer passengers to Australia Zoo. There is also the “Croc Express” bus service that will pick up visitors from major hotels in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and take you to Australia Zoo. The Zoo is open 9am – 5:00pm every day except Christmas Day.