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.
The numbers in brackets correspond to the map at the end of the article.
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, personally, I prefer spotting them in their natural environment. I’ve been living in Brisbane for more than 10 years and have actually never been to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!
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. Through interactive displays and exhibits, visitors can learn about koalas and their behaviour. Even after living in Australia for many years, I learnt a lot during my visit to Daisy Hill Koala Centre.
During your visit, you can see koalas in their natural habitat from the elevated boardwalks. The centre also offers guided walks, talks, and school holiday activities. Entry to the centre is free.
Where to see koalas in the wild near Brisbane
Brisbane Koala Bushlands (3)
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.
The Stockyard Creek walking track in Brisbane Koala Bushlands is an excellent starting point for witnessing koalas in the wild near Brisbane. You can find a map of all the tracks here. 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.
Personally, I’ve 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.
Coombabah Lake Conservation Park (5)
Coombabah Lake Conservation Park, located on the Gold Coast less than one hour away from Brisbane CBD, is another great 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 (6)
Koalas reside in Noosa National Park, and there are signs indicating their recent sightings to assist visitors. Personally, 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 have a preference for gum tree leaves, so learning to spot gum trees can narrow down 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’s recommended to 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.
Have you spotted koalas in Brisbane? Share your experiences in the comments below!