Here at Experience Oz we love making new friends, especially when they are four-legged, winged or furry – they’re our favourite buddies!
There are so many places around Australia where you can get up close and personal to a range of cuddly, cute and downright terrifying animals.
So we decided to put together a list of some of the best places where, for a little extra fee, you can pat, tickle and take selfies with some of the coolest animals that call Australia home.
The below places have been selected based on a number of criteria such as value for money, quality of attraction and popularity, and all receive rave reviews from numerous travel sites as well as visitors. Here’s the list:
Location: 1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour
Sydney’s picturesque Darling Harbour is the last place you’d expect to bump into some of Australia’s most loved animals. The WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is an Australian animal adventure and is home to some of the cuddliest, most curious and scariest animals found in Australia. Think crocodiles, snakes, kangaroos, koalas and you’re on the right track.
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There’s no better way to start your day than with by sharing a meal alongside the Zoo’s droopy, cuddly koalas. Set inside the interactive koala exhibit you’ll feast on a hot breakfast buffet while in the best company. Guests will also be treated to informative talks about the koalas and cosy up to them for a memorable photo opportunity.
The breakfast is held every Saturday and Sunday at 7:15 am and 7:30 am. So wake up early and get ready for a day filled with feathers, fur, fear and fun as the breakfast ticket provides entry into the rest of the park for the remainder of the day.
- Child (4 to 15 years) $55
- Adult $65
5. Lunch with the Lorikeets at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
Location: Port Douglas Road, Port Douglas
Lunching with friends is always great, but having lunch with feathered friends is even better! Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas allows visitors to dine with these curious critters and enjoy a bite to eat in their habitat. The staff will serve up a delicious selection of hot and cold food while the colourful lorikeets provide the entertainment for the afternoon.
This interactive experience is unlike any other as you’re immersed in the birds’ habitat. You’ll also be taken on a guided tour around the habitat and have the chance to take a photo with the fluffed up residents. The habitat also holds Breakfast with the Birds and Picnics with the Parrots.
Lunch is held every day from 12:30 pm and includes admission to the rest of the habitat to explore.
- Child (4 to 14 years) $28
- Adult $56
Location: W Esplanade, Manly
As the name suggests this is an extreme dive with Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary‘s scariest residents. Kitted out in scuba gear, you’ll dive into the aquarium’s main oceanarium that holds up to 4 million litres of water and houses a range of awesome marine animals. Keep your eyes peeled and watch your back as you sit amongst the Grey Nurse, Wobbegong, Port Jackson and Bamboo Sharks – an awesome yet scary experience.
After you’ve had a few jump frights from the curious sharks you’ll also get to meet some of SEA LIFE’s resident Green and Loggerhead Sea Turtles and Smooth, Southern Eagle and Fiddler Rays.
Some of the bigger personalities to look out for are Murdoch the Grey Nurse Shark; the first of his kind born at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Big Mouth the massive Smooth Ray; she is unbelievably large and loves a big cuddle from instructors, and Myrtle the grumpy Sea Turtle; a rescue Green Sea Turtle with a spirited nature (despite her grumpy appearance) who loves taking selfies.
- Introductory Diver (14 years and over) $280
- Certified Diver (14 years and over) $205
Location: Badger Creek Road, Healesville
The pioneers of platypus cuddling, Healesville Sanctuary has paved the way for those wanting to get up close and give a tickle to these lovable Aussie mammals.
This is a unique experience with a unique creature and it is well worth embarking on the 1.5-hour drive out of the Melbourne CBD. Under the guidance of an experienced platypus keeper, you’ll don the waders and step into the shallow play pool.
After being briefed by the keepers you’ll be given the opportunity to touch, play, tickle and feed the beloved platypus. The experience lasts for around an hour and is limited to two people per day.
Unfortunately, children under the age of 12 aren’t able to participate and a full paying adult must accompany children under 16 years of age. The encounters run from 11:15 am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you’re anything like us and playing with a platypus is your idea of heaven, this is the experience for you!
- $199 per person
Location: K Road, Werribee South
Though just a short drive from the Melbourne CBD you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to Africa at the Werribee Open Range Zoo. Simulating the African savannah, you will come face to face with some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife including rhinos, giraffes, zebras and antelopes.
In our opinion, if you’re going all the way to the African savannah, you might as well make the most of it – this is where the off-road safari comes into play. Unlike the free trail ride that takes you around the park, this safari will get you up close and personal with these fascinating animals.
Aboard a purpose-built, open-sided vehicle you’ll be driven through the savannah to learn about the animals and their environment – an awesome opportunity for some awesome photos.
The Off-Road Safaris depart daily from 11:45 am and tours are limited to a maximum of 14 people to ensure your experience is as intimate as can be.
- Child (8 to 15 years) $65
- Adult $80
- Child (4 to 15 years) Mon-Fri outside VIC holidays $15.80
- Child (4 to 15 years) weekends & VIC holidays FREE
- Adults $31.60
Location: 58 Mitchell Street, Darwin
Swimming with crocodiles might not sound like the sanest thing to do (no voluntarily anyway) but at Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove you can do just that. Just like their daily dinners, you’ll be lowered into the tank in an enclosed ‘cage’ with nothing but 4 centimetres of glass separating you from one of the largest crocodiles in captivity.
The resident salty is Chopper, he weighs around 800 kilograms, stretches along 5.5 metres and is the third largest crocodile in captivity and he’ll be your swimming buddy for the next 15 minutes.
While you’re in the water the curious croc will be fed to avert his appetite from you (phew!). The spherical cage gives 360-degree views of the croc and you’ll have great visibility underwater with the help of some goggles – all the better to see the crocs with. The Cage of Death is lowered into the danger zone 12 times a day and visitors are given the chance to dive alone or with a friend.
- $165 per person
- $250 for 2 people
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Australia including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!