If you're an animal lover then the Gold Coast is full of exciting opportunities to meet all manner of cute creatures. From free-flying rainbow parrots that perch on your head, to our iconic koalas who you can book for a breakfast date. If you're seeking an up close and personal experience with an array of native and exotic wildlife, then check out a few of our favourite places for animal encounters on the Gold Coast.
CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Gold Coast attractions don’t come much more iconic than Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which has been loved by locals and visitors alike for 75 years. It’s a must for animal lovers. Not only does the sanctuary give you the chance to observe and interact with all manner of incredible creatures, it also runs one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world and takes part in numerous conservation projects.
The knowledgeable sanctuary staff make a wildlife encounter at Currumbin a memorable one. You can tell that they love their roles, and the animals they work with. Spend a day exploring the open animal enclosures set in 27 acres of lush rainforest. You’ll get to hand feed kangaroos and the rowdy rainbow lorikeets (8am and 4pm). The Wild Skies free flight bird show and Scaly Tails presentation are not to be missed. There are also a variety of bespoke animal encounters that cost extra but you get you closer to the cute critters who call this place home. Book in for breakfast with a koala, learn more about the onsite wildlife rehabilitation centres or get the inside story from an Animal Keeper on a Behind the Scenes Tour. You can even book to share a special experience with specific animals including capybaras, possums, echidnas, dingoes or the super cute Cotton Top Tamarins.
Where: 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin
MOUNTVIEW ALPACA FARM
What’s fluffy, cute and lives in a vineyard? The adorable alpacas at Mountview Alpaca Farm. Jen and Steve Pack (the friendly park owners) have created a wonderful animal experience for people wanting to connect with nature in a beautiful hinterland location that also happens to house one of the Gold Coast’s very best wineries, O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. There are 70 fluffy alpacas to meet when you visit and each one has a name and a unique character. You’ll be able to meet members of the pack like Ernie, Elvis, Noodles and Tim Tam on 15, 30 or 60-minute experiences where you can take an alpaca on a lead for a walk around the vineyards or along the picturesque creek that runs through the property. Take advantage of package deals that include pizzas or a picnic lunch and make a day of it. A selfie with your furry friend is an essential souvenir of this completely unique animal encounter.
Where: 852 Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra
If you dream of cuddling a koala, you can make that dream come true at Dreamworld. Say g’day to the locals during the Native Wildlife Walkthrough, where you’ll see many Australian animals including crocodiles, dingoes, tree kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils a wombat and a Wedge Tailed Eagle. There’s even beautiful little Bilbies, which are one of Australia’s most endangered species. You can get your photo taken with a cuddly koala or meet adorable dingoes during the Dingo Encounter which includes plenty of pats. Learn more about the amazing wildlife that call Australia home in daily wildlife presentations. It’s also nice to know that donations and royalties from the theme park go to the Dreamworld Wildlife Fund, which has raised more than $2 million for conservation initiatives – a fact that will make any animal lover feel good!
Where: Dreamworld Pkwy, Coomera
DAVID FLEAY WILDLIFE PARK
Park founder and all-round Gold Coast legend, Dr. David Fleay was an Australian scientist who specialised in zoology. Long regarded as ‘Australia’s Father of Conservation’, David opened his famed wildlife park in Burleigh Heads in the 1950s and to this day it continues to draw animal lovers to its doors. The environmental education and conservation role of the park is just one of his many legacies. The parks holds popular holiday programs where kids can be Junior Rangers for a day and get a behind the scenes, hands on experience with some of the wildlife.
Spot koalas, pademelons, dingoes, and rock wallabies as you stroll along boardwalks that take you though many different natural habitats and pathways that lead you through shady rainforest and tall eucalypt forests. There’s a multitude of animals to meet here including pythons, goannas, kangaroos, crocodiles, and sugar-gliders (cute!). In the nocturnal house, you’ll have the chance to see some elusive animals that you’ll very rarely spot in the wild, including a platypus in a special aquarium. Watch his playful antics as he forages, feeds and frolics in his lagoon.
Stop in for a quality coffee and a delicious array of lunch options at Fleay’s Café & Events. The newly renovated venue offers alfresco dining on an elevated deck surrounded by tranquil bushland. Some of the native birdlife are often hanging around hoping to clean up any crumbs that get dropped.
Where: Loman Lane, Burleigh Heads
Whale watching season on the Gold Coast (May – October) is a definite highlight of the calendar year. To see the annual migration of whales must be one of the most profound wildlife encounters on the planet. Admire these remarkable aquatic mammals from aboard a whale watching tour with the dazzling Gold Coast city skyline as a backdrop. Pregnant females give birth in the warmer waters of north Queensland and seeing the mums and bubs swimming by on their way back south is nothing short of incredible.
The marine experts aboard whale watching tours assure that patrons have a wonderful time at sea watching humpback whales swim free. Get set to be impressed by their huge surface breaches, massive tail slaps, and playful antics. Take your pick from a variety of tours available and enjoy this aquatic animal encounter that will stay will you long after you set foot back on shore.
A visit to Paradise Country is an authentic Australian farm experience for the whole family. You’ll get to see Aussie stockmen show off their impressive sheep wrangling skills, with their team of horses and dogs. A trip to the Farmyard Nursery must be one of the most adorable animal experiences ever. Think, chubby piglets, and cute little lambs. Get your camera ready to snap the moment of joy when the kids meet a kid (baby goat) up close.
There are some exotic animals at Paradise Country too. Kids and adults alike love watching the mischievous meerkats on their boisterous adventures. Enjoy dining with a difference the Farmhouse Restaurant, where you can watch the super cute Marmoset Monkeys frolic with their families as you eat.
There’s much to learn from the interactive wildlife encounters on offer at Paradise Country. Wombats, wallabies, koalas, monkeys, and reptiles are all on show here and there are special upclose encounters available with the Marmosets, Meerkats and koalas for an extra fee. Make the most of your Paradise Country experience and book a Farmstay & Play package to sleep over in the onsite safari tents. Trust us, the kids will thank you for it.
Where: Production Dr, Oxenford
O’REILLY’S RAINFOREST RETREAT
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is in the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, and naturally that means that there’s a lot of native wildlife around. Guests have been entertained by the furred and feathered friends who have made this historic place home for decades.
The much-loved O’Reilly’s Birds of Prey show is always a highlight. To witness the powerful elegance of predatory birds such as Wedge Tail Eagles, Barking Owls and Black Kites in full flight is astonishing. Their focused precision and natural aerobatic display wow audiences young and old time and time again.
Don’t miss the Glow Worm Tour while you’re here either. It’s a super cool experience to explore this ancient rainforest via a 4WD bus and discover millions of shimmering glow worms. Hint: make the trip at sunset to best see their luminescent effect.
Other popular wildlife encounters include meeting Russ the resident Carpet Snake (yes, he’s friendly), and joining the daily bird feeding event with a crew of Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots. We love that O’Reilly’s is an original pioneer of eco-tourism. Book the kids in for a guided Eco Ranger Adventure and they’ll quickly learn about the local wildlife and most importantly, to care for their natural environment.
Where: 3582 Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.