Today I would like to take you to a place worth visiting while in Brisbane. When we are in Australia, it would be the most exciting to see Australian animals in the wild, but we don’t always have the opportunity. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of my favorite places in Brisbane, mainly because, apart from being able to get to know the most popular Australian species up close, it is located not far from the city and you can spend a nice day in the nature.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the first and largest koala sanctuary in the world. With over 90 years of experience, it is home to over 130 koalas and 70 species of other native Australian animals. It was founded in 1927, right after the ban on hunting koalas, and since then deals with saving and caring for koalas, but not only. In the sanctuary we can also find other animal species like emu, dingo dogs, wombats, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils and many different kangaroos.
Many tourists decide to visit Lone Pine to hold or pat a koala or feed kangaroos but these are not the only attractions, there you can also learn a lot of interesting information about the life of these animals. In 2018, the Brisbane Koala Science Institute was opened at Lone Pine; a world-class koala research center built in cooperation with Brisbane City Council. There is also a hospital on site that helps sick furry species.
Koalas themselves are very interesting individuals. Together with kangaroos are the most popular native animals, the symbol of Australia. It is hard to believe that the life of the koalas was not always easy. 100 years ago koalas were hunted to get their fur for sale. Currently, koalas are under protection and many organizations operate in Australia to defend their rights. Lone Pine is just such place, most of those animals ended up there after traumatic circumstances and in the wild probably they would not survive.
Don’t worry that the animals are over-exploited – the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary policy is very restrictive, the animals are changed very often and each koala is allowed to be held no more than 30 minutes in the least stressful conditions. After their ”shift”, koalas are very generously rewarded, of course with their favorite eucalyptus leaves.
Koalas live in the largest numbers in eastern Australia – in the state of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and in a small part of South Australia. Nowadays, bush fires and excavation of eucalyptus trees for development cause that koalas life is not easy anyway. Thanks to reintroduction, koalas are still distributed over much of their former range, but their numbers have drastically decreased and populations are fragmented as a result of the limitation of continuous habitat. Koalas need a lot of space and a lot of trees – about 100 per individual. They are equipped with sharp claws, which despite of helping them climbing on eucalyptus trees are also used for their defense. But koalas are very calm animals, focused more on sleeping and slowly chewing eucalyptus leaves that make them slightly intoxicated and sleepy, rather than defending against predators or even dogs.
Koalas feed almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves that are difficult to digest. As a result, they developed a very slow metabolism to save energy – in fact, they can sleep up to 20 hours a day!
Koalas, often are considered bears, but they are actually marsupials inhabiting trees, whose closest living relatives are wombats. They belong to the largest marsupials inhabiting trees, they weigh from 4kg to 15kg and males can be up to 50% larger than females.
There are over 700 species of eucalyptus, and koalas are quite picky about their diet – only about 80 species of eucalyptus are suitable for them. In addition, they choose young, the most delicate leaves that are the most juicy. They get all the water they need from eucalyptus leaves and they need water only during drought (when the leaves dry up). In the wild, the easiest way to meet koalas is high on the treetops, they descend to the ground only to change trees or other areas of the habitat.
Because different eucalyptus grow in different parts of Australia, the exact koala diet depends on where it lives. Koalas have fantastic hearing and an even better sense of smell, which is why they choose the best leaves to eat. Despite their amazing digestive system, they can still absorb only about 25% of the nutrients from the leaves, and the rest is excreted as undigested fiber. So they have to eat a lot of leaves – adults put down about 500 g per 1 kg of leaves every night! Animals vary in size and color depending on their location. Those in southern NSW and Victoria are often larger and slightly darker, with thicker fur than northern populations – probably that’s to keep them warm in colder weather.
Other lone pine residents are kangaroos. Apparently there are more kangaroos in Australia than people. Although, when we met a kangaroo in the wild, we should rather be careful, those in Lone Pine are very used to to daily visits and people. During the daytime, lots of them together can be found under the trees persistently looking for shade. When the sun begins to set, then most of them begin to jump on the green fields of Lone Pine. Often, kangaroos jump around the sanctuary. This means that they have a place to wander and feel comfortable in their surroundings.
Kangaroos are marsupials, they carry their little ones in the pouch. There are many different species of kangaroo in Australia. Similarly at Lone Pine, we can see from small wallabies to large kangaroos. Young kangaroos that are still in their mother’s pouch are called joeys.
Finally, some practical information about the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane:
- Opening hours: from 9:00 to 17:00
- It is worth checking the schedule of the day in advance: at certain hours there are bird shows, koala holding, photo with the koala and other attractions
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the sanctuary, there are ports for charging cameras or phones
- Entrance is paid. Buying a ticket online is often cheaper and, in addition, we will avoid queues at the entrance.
- In the area there are two souvenir shops and a restaurant
- There is also a place for a picnic, the arranged tables are surrounded by eucalyptus trees with koalas eating or sleeping
- Access: by bus from the center of Brisbane or by car
- In the park you can buy food to feed kangaroos
- Additional info on the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary website: https://koala.net/
An unforgettable experience guaranteed, especially when you are in Australia for the first time and a nice plan for a day out in nature.