Meeting the Koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

posted in: Australia, Nature | 70

What is the first thing that you associate with Australia? I bet it is either a Kangaroo or a Koala. For me, it was the latter. From the time I got my invite to visit Gold Coast, I dreamt of hugging a Koala. Those cuddly, furry little things had always caught my fancy. And guess what – I actually lived my dream. The best part of it – I did not have to wait for long for this happened on Day One in Gold Coast. I met my “Star” at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Me and My Star at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Me and My Star at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary wasn’t just about meeting the Koalas and the Kangaroos. It introduced me to the Pesky Emu, the Colorful Lorikeets, the Mighty Eagle, the Dangerous Dingos and more. What is more is that I quite go up, close and personal with them, making this visit even more memorable for me. With its unique wildlife and animal interaction sessions, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is deemed as the most popular tourist destination in Queensland, Australia. Post my experience here, I second that with a further note – the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the topmost among things to do in Gold Coast. Take a peek as to why –

About Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

The original Lorikeet Feeding area of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
The original Lorikeet Feeding area of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

The history of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is an interesting one. A floriculturist by the name of Alex Griffiths was facing a major issue with the Lorikeets attacking his flowers for nectar. As a solution, he created a small feeding area for the Lorikeets. Slowly, not just him, but his neighbors came by with nectar to feed these colorful birds. Eventually, this area expanded and became the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary.

Parrot at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Parrot at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Alex Griffiths’s sanctuary expanded beyond his house to the reserves nearby. In 1976, he gifted the entire bit to the National Trust of Queensland. The sanctuary soon became a home for many Australian animals and a small animal hospital was set up to help the injured creatures. Today, it has been rechristened as Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and is a popular tourist destination in Australia.

White Owl during the Free Flight Bird Show at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
White Owl during the Free Flight Bird Show at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

The Sanctuary is a non-profit organization. It ensures that its proceeds go towards various wildlife and nature conservation projects. It constantly rescues injured animals – specially Koalas, nurses them back in the hospital and releases them into the wild. The visitors here, can not only enjoy the Australian wildlife but can see the hospital for themselves. And that to me, was the most impressive thing about Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Stop One – The Free Flight Bird Show

After a quick introduction to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, our volunteer host ushered us to the Koala enclosure. We were to meet these cuddly cuties first but a whole bunch of Chinese tourists beat us to it. Given that the wait time was long, she suggested we walk through some other parts of the Sanctuary. We could get back to the Koalas later. As reluctant I was to go along this contingency plan, there was no denying the practicality of it given our limited time at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. And so, we set off.

The Free Flight Birds Show in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
The Free Flight Birds Show in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

Waving around to kids on a mini train and trying to spot the hidden animals in various enclosures, we followed the crowd that was headed to the signature show of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The Free Flight Bird Show was all about showcasing the winged beauties of Australia. Everyone had already occupied the best seats and all we were left was the open lawn area near the stage.

Cockatoo that was a part of the Free Flight Birds show at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockatoo that was a part of the Free Flight Birds show at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Before I could load my telephoto lens, the show began. In flew the colorful cockatoos & the rainbow lorikeets. Punctuated by the gleeful whoops of the crowd – the adults & kids alike, these birds flew around demonstrating their beautiful skills. None of them were tied or tagged and hence, the name of the show – “Free Flight”. Every characteristic of the bird was not just explained by the MC but you could well see it with the stunts that the birds performed. It was a beautiful educational experience for kids and adults.

An Excited Emilie at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
An Excited Emily at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

The interactive bit of the show involved the crowd. The presenters would pick people randomly to join them on the stage to interact and perform with the birds. Little Emily was the most stunned as the giant beauty – the Australian Pelican was ushered in and she fed it a fish.

Grand entrance of the Australian Pelican at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Grand entrance of the Australian Pelican at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

The white owls got me thinking of Hedwig – the beloved owl of Harry Potter. It was as if they would be off delivering some owl mail to some wizard.Β  While all the birds were stunners, the real star of the show was the Fierce Eagle – The largest bird of prey in Australia – the Wedge-tailed eagle.

The biggest Bird of Prey - The Wedge-Tailed Eagle at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
The biggest Bird of Prey – The Wedge-Tailed Eagle at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Stunning in its size, I think everyone’s jaws dropped as it flew straight at the audience, low enough to scare them but precise enough to just glide above their heads. I could not stop clicking this guy’s profile for he definitely impressed me to the core. Before I knew it, he flew away to his home and the show ended.

The impressive Eagle stares back at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
The impressive Eagle stares back at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Time to Feed the Kangaroos

Kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
Kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

Since we were already at the far end of the Sanctuary, our host suggested we visit the national animal of Australia. That definitely had me kicked for I had never ever seen a Kangaroo in real life. We were handed over 2 packs of food – not for ourselves but to feed the hopping wonders.

Feeding the Kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Feeding the Kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

There were two types of Kangaroos that we met – the lazy Grey ones (they aren’t really lazy but on that day, they were) and the slightly active Red Kangaroos. The difference between them is that the first ones are in the Grassland areas of AustraliaΒ (I saw a few in the wild while on my Hot Air Balloon ride). The other ones were common across the dusty red landscapes of the country. I frankly, did not bother to sit and check out other differences, for I was totally enamored by them.

Joey snuggling in to his mom at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Gold Coast
Joey snuggling in to his mom at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Gold Coast

I loved petting them while they ate from my palms. Soft and smaller than what I expected, these guys were just so adorable. A few of them had Joeys snuggling into their pouch and well, those were the ones who were the most hungry.

A kid dropping his Kangaroo feed to the ducks around
A kid dropping his Kangaroo feed to the ducks around

It was fun watching the kids trying to feed them. The moment the Kangaroo would touch their hand, most of them would just drop the feed and run away. That was a signal to those annoying ducks to invade upon the scattered feed and take over from the Kangaroo. It was hilarious actually to watch them fight over the tiny nodules of Kangaroo feed.

The Emu who wanted it all at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast
The Emu who wanted it all at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

I think the Kangaroos were just too tired of eating and we soon gave them up for the huge bird of Australia – the Emu. Somehow, this guy had wandered into the Kangaroo enclosure and decided he was hungry. Crosseyed and crazy looking, he kept scaring everyone – not wanting to eat from our palms but demanding the entire bag of feed! πŸ˜‰

Back to Koalas in Gold Coast

Koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland
Koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland

With a failed attempt to spot the Tasmanian Devil (The Devil that she was – hiding in her lair), we made our way back to the Koala enclosure. Finally, it was time to meet them. The tiny little creatures hugged the various trees and pretended to sleep while we clicked their pics. The only movement came in when a volunteer entered with some branches of Eucalyptus trees.

Food! Their stimulant had them walk a bit and frankly, that was the only movement that we saw them make.

Peek-a-boo - I see you - Koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia
Peek-a-boo – I see you – Koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia

It was our turn for the Koala cuddle –Β  an activity that you can indulge at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. A small guy was brought out to meet us. “Star” was his name and he wasΒ just just just…….sooooooooooooooooooooooooo….cute! I was made to clasp my palms to receive him and the 10-month-old Koala just turned to me and hugged me. It searched my face, realized that I was his biggest fan and then turned to the camera for a quick pic with me. Even for those few seconds, it just felt right.

Amy, his caretaker, took him back and with a few more pats, I had to say goodbye to him. How I wish, I could have stayed longer. Maybe, someday, I will return to volunteer at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – just so that I can be near Star!

A brush with the Creepy Crawlies

A Python at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
A Python at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

I was reluctant to leave the Koala enclosure but well, it was just enough time to see the Reptiles enclosure. I would choose Koalas over Creepy Crawlies any day. However, out of politeness, I went along to see some snakes, crocodiles and plenty more of those slithering creatures. Glad I did for I caught the Australian cousin ofΒ Komodo dragons in Indonesia and the Flying Lizards in Wayanad. A Water Dragon stood still in the open, possibly waiting for a prey. There was something dangerously fascinating about him and he became the object of my attention in this enclosure.

Meeting the Water Dragon at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Meeting the Water Dragon at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Other Activities at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Treetop Ropeway across Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Treetop Ropeway across Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

It was time to leave though there was plenty left unseen here. I would have loved to spot some Wallabies and Tree Kangaroos. Or maybe go on the Treetop Ropeway. Bilbies, Red Pandas and Cassowary eluded me in this visit. I guess, you need a complete day to at least do most of it while I just had 3 hours.

Never mind! It ain’t over – for I know that I will get back to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary again. To meet Star and Introduce him to my daughter. And meet some more of those lovely Australian Animals!

Getting Here

  • Gold Coast City has an international airport with a decent connectivity to the rest of the World. There are plenty of flights including Flyscoot Airlines that operate to this airport.
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is closer to the airport than the main city, It is around 23 kms from Gold Coast city and takes about 30 minutes to get here by road. You can get it on your mobile by clicking here.
  • You can either hire an Uber Cab or take a bus to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary from Gold Coast.

Travel Tips

  • Click here for the official website of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • You can book your tickets through the website or get them at the entrance. A day pass for an adult will cost you around AUD 50. There is a concession for kids and also, if you visit as a family.
  • Wear flat shoes and comfortable clothes while visiting here. There is plenty of walking to do.
  • There are plenty of restaurants and restrooms within the Sanctuary.
  • All animal encounters are fairly safe as long as you follow the rules and instructions mentioned there
  • You can clean your hands with a sanitizer after every animal interaction. You will find handy dispensers at every animal enclosure.
  • There is a small shopping area where you can buy memorabilia from your visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The photo sessions with the Koala and various birds are on a chargeable basis. You will need to purchase the photographs on your exit at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • I recommend a complete day here to see the best of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

P.S I was invited by Queensland Tourism in collaboration with Flyscoot Airlines to visit Gold Coast City.

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70 Responses

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    How incredibly cute Ami! Gotta love the wedge-tailed eagle and all this brilliant wildlife. Fabulous. From lizards to pythons to koalas, wildlife is one big reason why I circle the globe. Feels fun to see different animals from the critters I see in New Jersey. Lots more diversity too. The Gold Coast is on my list for sure.

    • Ami

      Thank you Ryan. I absolutely loved those creatures and one of the key reasons we all travel too. The eagle was lovely but the Koala just stole my heart.

  2. Mohana Das

    Cuteness overload! I love those birds…aren’t they gorgeous! Also those kangaroos and koalas…ohhh! They are so adorable <3

    • Ami

      You got that right – Mohana. It is cuteness overload. Thanks for stopping by,

  3. Kavita Favelle

    Oh how adorable! Yes I do associate koalas as one of the first animals I think of for Australia, plus kangaroos! The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary looks like a lot of fun to visit.

  4. Diana

    This is animal heaven (except for the snakes – no thanks!) I definitely think of kangaroos and koalas first when I think of animals in Australia, but you’ve just shown that there are so many more. I love all your photos – especially the one of the white owl that almost blends into the tree! That’s a bummer you didn’t get to see a Tasmanian devil, but that’s just an excuse to go back, right?

    • Ami

      Actually more than an excuse. I would want to see Star again too. Hope to visit again. Thanks a ton for stopping by, Diana.

    • Ami

      They are just soo soo adorable. I bet this will be one of your favorite moments in Gold Coast when you visit it.

  5. alison netzer

    OMG my kids would love this place, so would I . What an experience and great place.

  6. Kristin

    Oh my goodness I don’t know what I would do if I got to hold a koala and pet a kangaroo! What a cool experience for kids and adults.

    • Ami

      It sure is. Your inner kid definitely bubbles over when you visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

  7. Kris

    I got to do this twenty years ago in Australia and I still remember the feeling of that koala bear hug! I love the way they cling onto you when you hold them.

    • Ami

      Oh, trust me I am not going to forget that for a long long time. They are so lovable. The way they hug you.

  8. Ann

    Yes, snuggling a Koala is definitely on my shortlist of things to do in Australia. Thank you for sharing your day at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. I found it interesting that it got its start by feeding lorikeets to keep them away from his flowers.

    • Ami

      Indeed, the history of the place is quite interesting. As are the creatures within. Hopefully, you will be able to fulfill your dream here with the Koala cuddle. It is one activity that will remain a memory forever.

    • Ami

      Oh, I wish I had more time here. It just wasn’t enough. Besides seeing the guys I missed, I would’nt have minded more of the Koalas.

  9. Linda

    I just love the pic of you with the koala. It looks like the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was the perfect spot. Interesting that it all started with Lorikeets. The bird show sounded like a lot of fun to watch. I think that I would most want to see the kangaroos. Saved this for the next time we are in Australia.

    • Ami

      Am sure you will enjoy the Sanctuary for more than Koalas and Kangaroos. The place has so much to see. Hope you get there soon. Thanks for stopping by, Linda.

  10. Claire

    What a variety of animals! The koalas and kangaroos are soooooooo adorable! I bet you had a fun time hanging out with all the wonderful animals of Australia πŸ™‚

  11. Medha Verma

    I am not really a fan of birds but I do love Koalas and Kangaroos and I’d love to cuddle a koala just like you, they’re so adorable. And feed a kangaroo too! Also, I am in awe of and scared of snakes are the same time, so I’d love to visit the reptiles enclosure as well, as long as I can keep my distance! Australia will be a great trip for me next year, I’d love to see all this wildlife!

    • Ami

      You can spend all your time with these Koalas and Kangaroos and just have a fleeting glimpse at the rest. The Reptiles are well enclosed, so you don’t need to worry on that. Hope you get to Gold Coast next year. It is a lovely city

  12. amit

    We didn’t go to this one on the gold coast but it looks very similar to featherdale in Sydney and also the Animal Sanctuary on Magnetic Island where we got to hold and hug Koalas. One of the things I miss about Australia is all the weird and wonderful animals they have. If you get the chance head out to Fraser Island, you’ll get to see Dingo’s roaming the beaches but do keep your distance as you’re well aware.

  13. Pooja

    Loved reading this post. It’s very informative. We love visiting wildlife sanctuaries as my little girl is an animal lover. Will definitely keep this post handy while planning my trip to the Gold coast.

    • Ami

      Oh, she will love the Koalas here. And the other animals too. Thanks for your lovely comment, Pooja and I hope you get there soon.

  14. Joe

    Sounds like a great day out. Amazing that you got to live your dream and hug a koala!

  15. Bhusha

    OMG! This is so so so adorable! Koala it is for me too!!! Animals like Koala, Sloths, Panda have something so so so adorable about them! They’re so cuddly!
    The whole place looks so nice. I guess this is much better than zoos. Good place to take the kids!

    • Ami

      Way better than the zoo. The animals are quite at home here and roam freely. They interact well with the humans and that honestly, is the difference. Hope you get to go there Bhushavali. Thanks for stopping by

  16. Rhiannon

    This whole day sounds amazing! I love ethical animal experiences like this. Star looks so happy and serene in that first photo with you, and we can definitely read the excitement in your face!

    I’ve seen a lot of the animals you mention in sanctuaries and wildlife parks before – in fact, I think I’ve seen all EXCEPT the koala, which is probably the most exciting of the lot! I think a trip to Australia is definitely overdue, and the Currumbin Wildlife Park will certainly be on the list

    • Ami

      Ooh you bet, the excitement was oozing from me. Glad you could spot it. I just hope that you get to Currumbin soon. It is so worth it. And say Hello to Star when you do.

  17. Lydia

    Such an exceptional experience, Ami. Visiting the Currumbin wildlife sanctuary sounds like an amazing thing to you. Your pictures show a very amazing and picturesque place. I haven’t seen so many wonderful animals in one place. πŸ™‚

    • Ami

      Indeed. Getting all the unusual animals under one roof was just amazing. Thanks for stopping by with this lovely comment, Kydia

  18. Vanessa Chiasson

    We had the chance to visit with similar animals and have our own special koala encounter at a similar facility outside Sydney -it was one of our best ever travel experiences and we can’t recommend it enough.

    • Ami

      I feel the same way and can relate to what you mean by the best ever experience. Seconding your recommendation to all too. πŸ˜€

  19. Sandy N Vyjay

    Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary looks so beautiful. The showstoppers are of course the cute Koalas and the Kangaroos. It must indeed have been an unforgettable experience with the Koalas and actually getting to hung a tiny little fellow. But I can see there is much more to be explored there beyond the Koalas and the Kangaroos.

  20. Shruti Prabhu

    Aww. The Koala is so cute! The first picture itself made my heart melt. Never heard of tree Kangaroos! Are Emus friendly? Currumbin wildlife sanctuary seems like a great cause and a beautiful place to visit! Added it to my bucket list.

    • Ami

      Yes, it is the cause that makes it so invaluable. And Tree Kangaroos are a little different from the land ones. Will be sharing another post with the pics soon. Stay tuned for it. And yes, this Emu was irritated but friendly πŸ˜‰

  21. Kirstie

    To be honest, I am not a fan of big birds because of a terrible experience around 2 or 3 years ago haha but in your photos, the Emu and the wedge tailed eagle look pretty harmless! Besides, who can say no to a kangaroo!!! Must be a really awesome experience!

    • Ami

      The birds are quite well behaved here;-) I am sure you will find them harmless. Don’t forget the Koalas with those Kangaroos. Am sure you will love them too.

  22. Swati

    Reptiles would surely freak me out. Koalas are so adorable, hope I get to visit Australia someday and cuddle them. Seeing a Kangaroo and a penguin has always been on my bucket list Loving your blog posts from Gold coast btw.

    • Ami

      Thanks Swati. Glad you like the Gold Coast posts. More coming up soon and yes, hoping that you get to cuddle a Koala soon!

  23. Mansoureh

    When I think of Australia I think of the wildlife. This place looks like animals heaven. This place looks like a zoo but the respected one πŸ™‚ I like the way they take care of animals and also attract tourists. Have you gotten a chance to visit the hospital?

    • Ami

      I missed the hospital in a rush to get to the Koala and then, time was up. Hoping to remedy that the next time. Thanks for stopping by, Mansoureh.

  24. Pujarini Mitra

    How adorable are the koala and the kangaroos. Must be a great experience feeding them up close. The snakes look quite creepy but we would love to visit this sanctuary with our little one.

    • Ami

      Forget the snakes and concentrate on the “K animals” Am sure your little one will love them. Hope you get there soon. Thanks for stopping by

  25. James Smith

    I loved Wildlife Travel and I wish my next Trip Is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in the upcoming year. Thanks For sharing the wonderful blog. It becomes very useful to me.

    • Ami

      Glad you liked it. Am sure that this place will be your favorite once you visit it

  26. sabrina

    Reading your article totally brought back so many memories of Australia and koalas! I managed to see them in a conservatory sanctuary in Sydney, in the wild in Melbourne as well as on Magnetic Island. Such a wonderful experience. I am glad this centre you visited also meets great standards and preserves the health animals above all! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ami

      Thanks Sabrina. I hope that I can visit the places you have mentioned. Would love to see the inhabitants there too.

  27. Saakshi Maheshwari

    I am heading to Australia this November and you have already put this wildlife sanctuary on my list. The koalas looked too adorable. can’t wait to hug them now.

  28. Vedante | The Lavish Nomad

    I was here a couple of months ago and this place is just remarkable. Also visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. Enjoyed my time at both places and its amazing how you can pet kangaroos.

    • Ami

      Indeed. Getting close to the Kangaroos is fun. Hoping to visit again for some more fun. πŸ˜€

    • Ami

      That is very broad question Susmita. It depends on where you are , how many days you want to spend and other factors. πŸ˜€

  29. Chak Travel

    It reminds me good times! I passioately love traveling and especially love walking tours! So I appreciathe that you love animals so much!

  30. Mariyam

    This looks like the place of my dreams. I’m an avid animal lover and these koalas look too cute!

  31. Archana Singh

    I love Australia for its wildlife. I spent a month traveling solo and Koalas were my absolute favourite. They are so cute as shown in your pictures. Although I couldn’t visit Gold Coast as I focussed on Victoria and NSW it sure is on my next visit to-do list.

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