We could not resist visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary on our trip to Brisbane. 12km from the city, this sanctuary is the largest koala sanctuary with around 130 koalas. It is also the first of its kind, opening in 1927 as safe haven for sick and orphaned koalas, during a period when the animal was still being killed for the fur trade.
The most interesting way to get there is to sail down the river. We took the slow trip with Mirimar Cruises, which was a great way to go. The trip to the sanctuary took just over an hour, with a commentary about the history of Brisbane and background to local landmarks. We then had three hours at the sanctuary, before sailing back.
As well as koalas, there are a number of other animals to see from kangaroos to wallabies, from wombats to birds of all sorts. It is possible to feed the kangaroos (with specially purchased feed), and also have your photo taken with a koala if you are prepared to stand in a long queue.
It was really great to get up so close to the wallabies and kangaroos, though there were a lot of people, and most of them had retreated to the ‘quiet zone’ when we were there. There were also a number of emu walking about the kangaroo reserve.
During our walk around, we arrived in perfect timing for the daily raptor show, where we saw a great display of birds of prey, including low flying owls (which made me duck I admit!).
As well as seeing platypus, a very sleepy wombat and lots of birds, we also stopped to look at the barnyard animals, which include chickens from battery farms who live out their days happily scratching in the dirt and cute miniature pigs and goats.
But of course, the main highlight of the visit was, let’s face it, the koalas. They sleep between 18 and 22 hours per day, so we were lucky to see a few awake, no doubt as it was feeding time, and some of the young ones were eager to get hold of fresh eucalyptus leaves.
The white patches on their bottoms act as camouflage, so they are hard to spot from the ground. They grip on to the branches with three fingers and two opposable tubs on each hand.
Verdict: a great day out and a fantastic opportunity to get up close to wildlife. We enjoyed the leisurely boat trip, but there is also a fast boat and there are also buses which stop at the sanctuary.
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