If you’re looking to see koalas in Brisbane, you’re in luck! I love these cute creatures, and I’ve compiled a list of the best places to spot them around here. While koalas are an iconic symbol of Australia, they can be tricky to find in the wild. However, there are plenty of locations in and around Brisbane where you can observe this endangered species, sometimes from close proximity.

You can use the iNaturalist and QWildlife websites/apps to see the latest wild koala sightings and report the wildlife you see.

The numbers in brackets correspond to the map at the end of the article.

Koala sleeping in an eucalyptus tree at Coombabah Reserve on the Gold Coast
Koala at Coombabah Reserve (Gold Coast)

Koala sanctuaries in Brisbane

Brisbane is home to a couple of koala sanctuaries where visitors are guaranteed to see these adorable animals.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (1)

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world, is located just 20 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD. With over 130 koalas, it is one of Brisbane’s most popular attractions. Visitors can get up close and personal with the koalas and, for a fee, even cuddle one. The sanctuary also features a free-range kangaroo area where visitors can hand-feed the kangaroos. While it’s a great place to take Instagram-worthy pictures of koalas, I prefer spotting them in their natural environment.

Responsible travel tip: Don’t feed wild animals, it’s never good for them. It can make them sick, change their natural behaviours and even disrupt an entire ecosystem.

Daisy Hill Koala Centre (2)

Daisy Hill Koala Centre, situated in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park, about 25 km south of Brisbane, is dedicated to the conservation and protection of koalas and their habitat. Visitors can learn about koalas and their behaviour through interactive displays and exhibits. Even after living in Australia for many years, I learnt a lot during my visit to Daisy Hill Koala Centre.

You can see koalas in their natural habitat from the elevated boardwalks during your visit. The centre also offers guided walks, talks, and school holiday activities. Entry to the centre is free.

Daisy Hill Conversation Park is also home to wild koalas, so it’s worth a walk in the beautiful forest to try to spot one. However, we haven’t spotted wild koalas there yet. See the tracks on this map.

Where to see koalas in the wild near Brisbane

Whites Hill Reserve (3)

The Whites Hill Reserve is just a 15-minute drive from Brisbane City and offers a quiet escape from the urban scenery. The 170 hectares of land feature a beautiful eucalypt forest, making it the best place to see wild koalas in Brisbane. During our short walk around the reserve, we were lucky enough to spot four wild koalas—one on the Shirleyana Track (when you leave the Stringybark Track behind you) and three more on the She-oak Track, which runs along the quarry. See the map of all tracks here.

Responsible travel tip: The biggest threat to koalas is habitat loss. A fragmented habitat means they cross roads more, and car hits are also a big threat. So be extra careful when driving in a zone where wild koalas live: slow down and involve everybody in the car for wildlife spotting. Find out more tips about koala-friendly driving here.

Toohey Forest (4)

A 25-minute drive from Brisbane, the 260-hectare Toohey Forest is home to amazing wildlife, including koalas. You can check the Toohey Forest Wildlife Facebook page to see if there’s a recent post about a sighting.

Unfortunately, the option to redevelop the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre for the 2032 Olympic Games would put the surrounding woodlands, where koalas are regularly spotted, at risk. To share your concerns, you can email the Olympics Minister and ask them to commit to a koala-positive Olympic Games.

Brisbane Koala Bushlands (5)

The Brisbane Koala Bushlands is a network of areas designated to protect koala habitat. It forms part of the Koala Coast, one of the most important koala habitat areas in Australia. Given the threats of deforestation and urbanisation, it’s wonderful to see these zones established, though more are needed to protect koalas. Unfortunately, I’ve never spotted a koala there yet.

Here’s a map of all the tracks. It’s just 15 kilometres from the city centre. Remember that the gates are locked between 6 pm and 8 am, so plan your visit accordingly.

Minjerribah (6)

I’ve always had great success spotting koalas on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). A few can be found near the area where ferry passengers disembark, around the cemetery and toilet block. We’ve also spotted some on the side of the road leading to Point Lookout and one at Cylinder Beach. Even if you don’t spot a koala, Minjerribah is a fantastic short trip from Brisbane, one of the best places in Australia to see wildlife, especially from the North Gorge walk.

GJ Walter Park in Cleveland (7)

We’ve never been to this park, so we cannot share our first-hand experience of seeing koalas there. But if you cannot go all the way to Minjerribah, you might want to visit the park just next to where the ferries leave in Cleveland, GJ Walter Park, near Toondah Harbour. Check out Wild Redlands Facebook page, as they sometimes publish recent sightings.

Sweeney Reserve/Mungarra Reserve (8)

The Sweeney Reserve, located next to the Mungarra Reserve, is just a 40-minute drive from Brisbane City. I had read that there was a good chance of spotting koalas there, but unfortunately, we didn’t have any luck. Despite this, I still thoroughly enjoyed the flat, leisurely walk along the river.

Responsible travel tip: The Sweeney Reserve koala population became more famous after a dog sadly killed a baby koala and injured its mum a few years ago. After habitat loss and vehicle strikes, dog attacks are the third biggest threat to koalas. Read more about being a responsible pet owner and protecting koalas here.

John Oxley Reserve (9)

Not far from the Sweeney Reserve, further down the North Pine River, the John Oxley Reserve is another small piece of land that wild koalas call home. It is located 30 minutes north of Brisbane, in Murrumba Downs. We didn’t have time to check this one out after exploring the Mungurra Reserve.

Coombabah Lake Conservation Park (10)

Coombabah Lake Conservation Park, located on the Gold Coast less than one hour away from Brisbane CBD, is another exceptional spot for koala sightings. While they can be challenging to spot, I’ve seen koalas every time I’ve visited the reserve. It’s also a fantastic place to observe kangaroos.

Noosa National Park (11)

We’re getting a bit far from Brisbane now, but this place is so lovely that I found it might deserve a mention. Koalas reside in Noosa National Park, and signs indicate recent sightings to assist visitors. Despite several visits, I haven’t been fortunate enough to find a koala in Noosa. However, the park offers a fantastic coastal walk and opportunities to spot other wildlife, making it a worthwhile visit regardless.

Tips to increase your chances of spotting wild koalas

  • The best time to see them is during the early morning or late afternoon when they are most active.
  • Koalas prefer gum tree leaves, so learning to spot gum trees can narrow your search area.
  • Spotting koalas in the wild requires patience, as they are skilled at hiding and don’t move much. Look closely and be patient; the reward of seeing these iconic animals in their natural habitat is worth the wait.
  • As koalas often perch high in trees, it is recommended that you bring a camera with a zoom lens for better results.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask other walkers if they’ve spotted a koala; you may save a lot of time.
  • Don’t bring your dog with you as they scare koalas.

Have you spotted koalas in Brisbane? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Map of where to see koalas in Brisbane


Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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