Travel Guide

Where to cuddle a koala in Australia

By Chloe · Feb 2024 · 5 min read
It just doesn’t get any cuter than a koala. Here’s a guide to snuggling up close at the best sanctuaries across the country.

These cute, cuddly and iconic animals are one of the most recognised marsupials in the country, however, many visitors are not aware that it’s illegal to hold them in certain states.

It's legal in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, making Queensland the top choice for such experiences. However, holding koalas is prohibited in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

So, if you're eager for a koala encounter, plan your visit accordingly. Here's a list of locations across Australia where you can enjoy this adorable experience.

Where to cuddle a koala in Queensland

Queensland offers the widest range of zoos and wildlife parks with hands on Koala encounters. Many establishments offer professional photo packages for purchase while others allow you to take your own photos for no additional fee. See all Queensland zoos and parks that offer Koala encounters below.

Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast

Perhaps Australia’s most famous zoo due to the efforts of the Irwin family, the Sunshine Coast’s Australia Zoo offers Koala encounters four times a day at 10:45am, 11:30am, 2:00pm and 2:30pm. Encounters cost $124 per person, with optional photos available for purchase.


Cooberrie Park, Cooberrie

Cooberrie is located roughly 30 minutes from Rockhampton. Set amongst bushland, grassland and rainforest, Cooberrie Park offers koala holding experiences on enquiry. The encounters are at 11:30am and 1:30am, at a cost of $30 per person. You can even take your own pics while you're hanging out with those adorable furballs.


Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

One of the Gold Coast’s longest running and most popular attractions, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s koala holding experiences are available from 11:00am daily.

Visitors are able to purchase a 'Behind the scenes' experience to learn about the koala’s traits, habitat, and other fun facts from the experts. As well as, a professional photo holding the Aussie friend for $99. Please note, only one person can hold the koala to ensure the integrity of handling safely.

Plus if you want the ultimate experience, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has the Koala Breakfast. Available 5 days of the week, it's as fun as it sounds, breakfast amongst your Aussie furry mates. Enjoy a special gourmet set menu breakkie, learn from the koala experts, 1 x koala cuddle per guest and enjoy entry to the zoo. So, if you're up for something really special, this one's definitely worth it.


Dreamworld, Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s largest theme park has expanded its offerings in recent years to offer more than just rides and is now home to several wildlife-oriented attractions including the ability to pose with a koala. Dreamworld’s koala experiences are available from 11:30am - 3:30pm, with prices starting from $29.95.


Kuranda Koala Gardens

Nestled in Tropical North Queensland’s village in the rainforest, Kuranda’s Koala Gardens has oriented around all things koala as well as other species of tropics wildlife including some traditional Aussie favourites.

Visitors to Kuranda Koala Gardens can pay a fee to hold and get a picture taken with a koala, which comes with a physical photo.


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane

Brisbane’s long-running and underrated wildlife park in Brisbane city’s only animal sanctuary. Home to one of the country’s largest collection of koalas, it’s no surprise holding koalas plays a role at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Guests can hold a koala here for free from $45 for professional photos, with tickets allowed to be purchased at the Experience Hut on the day. Please note that tickets are very limited and can't be guaranteed. The sanctuary sits just to the north of Brisbane and can be accessed by both road and water.


Paradise Country Aussie Farm, Gold Coast

This attraction aims to give visitors a simulation of a traditional Australian farm, complete with various kinds of native wildlife. Paradise Country Aussie Farm offers two different koala holding opportunities.

You can choose from a basic cuddling experience where you can pose with many different animals, or you can embark on a behind-the-scenes adventure with a wildlife handler to interact with, feed and cuddle the koalas for $99 per person. A portion of proceeds from every Koala Encounter is donated to Paradise Country’s conservation campaign, proudly supported by the Sea World Foundation.

You can also enjoy a breakfast with the koalas on weekends in the koala nursery with the resident koalas and joeys.


Rainforestation Nature Park, Kuranda

Another quality Kuranda-based wildlife attraction, Rainforestation Nature Park is set out over a large area of World Heritage Rainforest and is highly eco-friendly.

Those looking to pose with koalas here can participate any time from 8am to 5pm each day, with a cost of $29 for a single physical koala photo, with optional family packs of photos also available.


Where to cuddle a koala in South Australia

South Australia also offers koala holding encounters, however, the range is more limited than in Queensland. Get up close with koalas in SA at:

Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide Hills

Nestled in the Adelaide Hills roughly 20 minutes from Adelaide city, Cleland Wildlife Park is a quality attraction that’s far more open and free-ranging than your average zoo.

This experience is not available until Spring 2024.

Gorge Wildlife Park, Cudlee Creek

Located in the aptly-named Cudlee (or is that “Cuddly?) Creek, Gorge Wildlife Park is not only a great wildlife attraction and one of the few in South Australia where koala holding is permitted. At an additional cost, koala holding is from $15 and cuddling is $40. You’ll need to take your own photographs.

To take advantage of this great value proposition, be sure to attend the available encounters at 11:30 am or 2:30pm daily. Please note, if the day is forecasted for 32 degrees and above, only the morning session will be held to be a close-up session only (not holding).


Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is a haven for wildlife experiences in general, and those who want to hold a koala can attend the excellent Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to take part in one of several koala interaction sessions (10:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm).


Where to cuddle a koala in Western Australia

Cohunu Koala Park, Perth

Located 40 minutes from Western Australia’s capital of Perth, Cohunu Koala Park is the state’s only spot to get your hands on a koala for a souvenir photo.

Photo sessions with the koalas are held daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm, for a price of $40 per person.

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