Unique Animal Encounters: SE QLD’s Top 10

Sweeping plains. Postcard-perfect beaches. Reefs humming with life and natural wonders from the top of our mountain ranges to our country’s red centre. 

Australia’s unique natural marvels won’t be found anywhere else in the world. And a landscape this unique, supports animal life you won’t find anywhere else either. 

In Australia, more than 80% of our plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are totally unique to our sunburnt country. And while we love the excitement of taking a national park walk and hoping to catch a glimpse of a wallaby in the wild, there’s something special about getting up close and personal with some of Australia’s furriest, fuzziest, and most fascinating animals. 

For a South East Queensland trip that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, connect with nature through a unique animal encounter.

Our top 10 creative ways to connect with critters in SE QLD:

#1 Cuddle a Koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Is there anything cuter or more iconically Australian than a eucalyptus-munching, tree-hugging koala? At Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, you can cuddle Australia’s sweetest creatures and support environmental conservation, all at the same time. A popular spot for locals and visitors alike, Lone Pine is dedicated to encouraging and empowering its guests to make small positive changes in their daily lives to support and protect native wildlife. 

To get there from Brisbane Airport? Simply jump on the Airtrain and head to Central Station. At Central, change trains and head to Sherwood station. A short 15-minute walk later, and you’ll be cradling Australia’s cutest animal in your arms. 

#2 Feed the Kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary 

One of the most unique creatures in the world, kangaroos are something that must be seen to be believed. This is especially the case for the red kangaroo, which is the largest marsupial and largest Australian mammal. At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, you can wander through the replica natural habitats of red kangaroos, grey kangaroos and even wallabies, to feed, learn about, and connect with these remarkable furry creatures. 

Just a hop and a skip from the Gold Coast, travel with Airtrain & Tram to Broadbeach Station, before changing over to a local bus service. Easy! 

#3 Swim with the Whales on the Sunshine Coast

Swimming with the humpback whales sounds like the stuff of dreams. But at Sunreef Mooloolaba, this is exactly what you’ll do. Weighing up to 40 tonnes, and growing up to 18 metres long, the sheer enormity of the humpback has to be seen to be believed. And on this trip? You’ll do a lot more than just see them. After spotting whales from the boat, you’ll be into the water and swimming right by these enormous flippered mammals. 

Located on the Sunshine Coast, simply hop on the Airtrain and travel to Eagle Junction Station. From there, you can easily connect to Sunshine Coast services.

#4 Feed the Dolphins on Moreton Island

Dolphins are a much-loved marine creature in Australia and across the world. For decades, dolphin stickers have peppered the school books of students and taken up valuable car bumper real estate. So, what is it that has made the world fall head-over-fin for dolphins? According to research, it’s their intelligence, sentience, and human-like personality traits that make them the unique marine animals they are.

Get to know these smart cookie creatures up close and personal at Moreton Bay’s Tangalooma wild dolphin feeding. In this animal encounter, you’ll hand feed the wild bottlenose dolphins that visit the shallows at sunset each day. Pay special attention to their cheeky personalities as they play, dive and jump around in a bout of post-dinner joy.

#5 Whale Watch in Brisbane

Each year, southern humpback whales make their migration to and from Antarctica. And each year, Brisbane Whale Watching’s purpose-built vessels take to the crystal clear waters surrounding Moreton Island to watch these gentle giants on their great journey. See humpbacks play, feed and interact with each other from The Eye Spy, a-state-of-the-art multi-million dollar high-speed catamaran. 

And getting there? Is easy. Simply travel to your Brisbane CBD accommodation with Airtrain (make sure you book online for exclusive discounts). From there, Brisbane Whale Watching can organise a transfer between your hotel and The Eye Spy. Their 22-seater bus visits all major hotels and makes the journey to the Redcliffe departure point effortless.

#6 Be a Zoo Keeper for a Day at Wildlife HQ on the Sunshine Coast

Located at the Big Pineapple, Wildlife HQ is buzzing with animal activity. From sugar gliders to sun bears, dingoes to Tasmanian devils, Wildlife HQ is home to myriad intriguing animals, from Australia and overseas. While the friendly zookeepers offer a whole range of animal encounters, our pick is the Zoo Keeper for a Day experience. In this experience, you’ll get up close and personal with around 6 different creatures, and have an experienced zookeeper alongside you, to give you all the insider knowledge on your new furry friends. 

To reach this Sunshine Coast zoo from Brisbane Airport, simply catch the Airtrain to Eagle Junction Station. From there, you can change trains for a Sunshine Coast service. Think – all that stands between you and cuddling up to tamarinds – is just a short train trip.

#7 Have a Farmstay at Paradise Country

What better way to experience Queensland’s country delights than with a farmstay at Paradise Country. During your stay, you’ll have the opportunity to feed and milk the cows, collect chicken eggs, meet goats and kangaroos, and experience all the best parts of country living. And, you don’t have to travel hours inland to experience it. The Paradise Country Farmstay is tucked behind all your favourite Gold Coast attractions (Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, and the Australian Outback Spectacular). So travelling there is simple. 

If you’re travelling from Brisbane Airport to Paradise Country Farmstay with Airtrain, simply hop off at Helensvale station. From there, you can catch the TX7 to Wet’n’Wild. Paradise Country is just a short walk from there.

#8 Watch the Crocodile Feeding at Australia Zoo

Every afternoon at Australia Zoo, you can catch a glimpse of their famous croc feeding session. The saltwater croc is the largest of all 27 species of crocodilian and have been sunbaking, swimming, and feeding on our earth for over 65 million years. This means that saltwater crocs were moving and shaking at the same time as dinosaurs. See these amazing predators do what they do best at their afternoon feeding session, running every day at 2:30pm. 

Located on the Sunshine Coast, Australia Zoo can be reached by catching the Airtrain to Eagle Junction, before switching over to a Sunshine Coast service.

#9 Snorkel in the Tropical Reef at Sea World 

Seaworld is South East Queensland’s hub for marine life. With penguins, whales, otters, and plenty more, visiting Sea World guarantees you a top notch family day out. Double the fun by diving into Sea World’s tropical reef snorkel while you’re there. In this hour, you’ll be amongst the fish, rays, and even white tip sharks. Weave around the coral, be wowed by the majestic marine life, and peer through the shark lagoon to get a good look at the bigger, bolder sharks (including the bull whaler shark). 

To visit Sea World’s tropical reef, there’s no ferries or boats required. Simply hop on the Airtrain at Brisbane Airport and head to Helensvale station. From there, the 704 Helensvale bus will take you to the gates of Sea World. 

#10 Check out the Dingoes at Dreamworld

Australia’s legendary wild dog, the dingo, is an intriguing creature. A mix of domestic dog, wolf, and fox-like behaviours, Australian dingoes can live alone or in a pack. The National Geographic suggests that it’s likely that there are more dingoes in Australia today, then there was when Europeans first arrived. This is particularly interesting given that dingoes can be tricky to spot in the wild. This is why Dreamworld’s dingo experience is so brilliant, you can now get up close and personal with a dingo, in a safe, protected place. 

To get your dingo fix, hop on the Airtrain at Brisbane Airport and travel to Helensvale Station. From there, you can grab the TX7 bus to take you to the front steps of Dreamworld. 

And there you have it! Airtrain’s top 10 unique South East Queensland animal encounters.
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