Where to Cuddle a Koala in Australia

These cute, cuddly and iconic animals are one of the most recognised marsupials in the country, however, many visitors are not aware that it’s illegal to hold them in certain states.

While it’s one of Australia’s most renowned and popular animal experiences, especially for those visiting from overseas, cuddling a koala is only possible in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. 

Overall, Queensland is your best bet if you are looking for a koala-holding experience, as it boasts the largest number of hands-on opportunities of any other state.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to hold a koala in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or the Northern Territory, so be sure to plan your itinerary accordingly if this experience ranks high on your bucket list!

Here’s a complete list of available locations around Australia where you can cuddle up to one of these impeccably cute Aussie animals.

Where to cuddle a koala in Queensland

Queensland offers the widest range of zoos and wildlife parks with hands on Koala encounters. Many establishments offer professional photo packages for purchase while others allow you to take your own photos for no additional fee. See all Queensland zoos and parks that offer Koala encounters below.

Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast

Perhaps Australia’s most famous zoo due to the efforts of the Irwin family, the Sunshine Coast’s Australia Zoo offers Koala encounters three times a day at 9:30am, 11am and 1:45pm. Encounters cost $49 per person, with optional photos available for purchase.

Australia zoo koala
Image: Australia Zoo

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Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville

Located to the north of Townsville, Billabong Sanctuary is a quality wildlife attraction that allows visitors to hold and cuddle up to their adorable koalas.

To commemorate this enjoyable experience you can purchase a photo package for $30 which includes a hard copy souvenir photo as well as a digital copy. During the encounter family members are also allowed to take their own photos.

Image: Billabong Sanctuary

Cooberrie Park, Cooberrie

Cooberrie is located roughly 30 minutes from Rockhampton. Set amongst bushland, grassland and rainforest, Cooberrie Park offers koala holding experiences on enquiry. The encounters cost $20 per person and allow participants to take their own photos of the experience.

Cooberrie Park
Image: Cooberrie Park

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast

One of the Gold Coast’s longest running and most popular attractions, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s koala holding experiences are available all day from 8 am to 5 pm.

Visitors are able to purchase a koala holding experience with a single photo for $29. Patrons can take this photo separately or in groups,  however, only one person is permitted to hold the koala.

Additional behind the scenes koala experiences are also offered at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary taking 10 lucky guests into the koala enclosure with keepers and cuddle a koala at the end of the experience. The Behind the Scenes Koala Experience is $49 per person and is available at 11am and 3.15pm.

Currumbin WS
Image: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Dreamworld, Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s largest theme park has expanded its offerings in recent years to offer more than just rides and is now home to a number of wildlife-oriented attractions including the ability to pose with a koala. Dreamworld’s koala experiences are available from 10 am onwards, with prices starting from $24.95.

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Kuranda Koala Gardens

Nestled in Tropical North Queensland’s village in the rainforest, Kuranda’s Koala Gardens has oriented around all things koala as well as other species of tropics wildlife including some traditional Aussie favourites.

Visitors to Kuranda Koala Gardens can pay a fee to hold and get a picture taken with a koala, which comes with a physical photo.

Image: Kuranda Koala Gardens
Image: Kuranda Koala Gardens

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane

Brisbane’s long-running and underrated wildlife park in Brisbane city’s only animal sanctuary. Home to one of the country’s largest collection of koalas, it’s no surprise holding koalas plays a role at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Guests can hold a koala here for free however there is an additional fee of $25 for professional photos and a smaller fee to take your own photos. The sanctuary sits just to the north of Brisbane and can be accessed by both road and water.

Image: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Image: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary


Paradise Country Aussie Farm, Gold Coast

This attraction aims to give visitors a simulation of a traditional Australian farm, complete with various kinds of native wildlife. Paradise Country Aussie Farm offers two different koala holding opportunities.

You can choose from a basic cuddling experience where you can pose with a number of different animals, or you can embark on a behind-the-scenes adventure with a wildlife handler to interact with, feed and cuddle the koalas for $45 per person.  

You can also enjoy a breakfast with the koalas on Saturdays and Sundays in the koala nursery with the resident koalas and joeys.

Image: Paradise Country
Image: Paradise Country Aussie Farm

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Rainforestation Nature Park, Kuranda

Another quality Kuranda-based wildlife attraction, Rainforestation Nature Park is set out over a large area of World Heritage Rainforest and is highly eco-friendly.

Those looking to pose with koalas here can participate any time from 8 am to 5 pm each day, with a cost of $22 for a single physical koala photo, with optional family packs of photos also available.

rainforestation 3
Image: Rainforestation Nature Park


Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

This immersive wildlife experience is located right at the entrance to Port Douglas itself, which sits roughly 6 kilometres from the centre of town.

The Wildlife Habitat offers koala holding after their twice-daily koala presentations which take place at 10:45am each day for the price of $23 per person.

wildlife port douglas
Image: Widlife Habitat Port Douglas

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WILD LIFE Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

The Whitsundays’ only true wildlife attraction, WILD LIFE Hamilton Island is easy to recommend as a family attraction for those travelling to the region with kids in tow. The attraction on its namesake Hamilton Island offers daily opportunities to hold and take photos with a koala at 9.30am- 10am every day except Fridays. Prior bookings are recommended for the koala cuddling experience.

Image: WiLD LIFE Hamilton Island
Image: WiLD LIFE Hamilton Island

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Where to cuddle a koala in South Australia

South Australia also features several attractions that offer koala holding encounters, however, the range is more limited than in Queensland. Get up close with koalas in SA at:

Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide Hills

Nestled in the Adelaide Hills roughly 20 minutes from Adelaide city, Cleland Wildlife Park is a quality attraction that’s far more open and free-ranging than your average zoo.

There are a variety of Koala packages available at Cleland including a free koala close-up with the entry fee, a hold-a-koala experience for $32, and a private koala package for an extended package in greater depth and detail.

Image: Cleland Wildlife Park
Image: Cleland Wildlife Park

Gorge Wildlife Park, Cudlee Creek

Located in the aptly-named Cudlee (or is that “Cuddly?) Creek, Gorge Wildlife Park is not only a great wildlife attraction and one of the few in South Australia where koala holding is permitted, but it’s also the only place in Australia where you can hold and take a photo with a koala at no extra charge to the admission fee. You’ll need to take your own photographs.

To take advantage of this great value proposition, be sure to attend the available encounters at 11:30 am, 1:30 pm or 3:30 pm daily.

Image: Gorge Wildlife Park
Image: Gorge Wildlife Park

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is a haven for wildlife experiences in general, and those who want to hold a koala can attend the excellent Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to take part in one of several koala interaction sessions (10.30 am, 1.30pm and 4 pm).

These sessions allow visitors to get up close with the koalas and pose beside them for photos, while bookable holding experiences are also available at 11am, 2pm and 4.30pm for an additional fee of $30 per person.

Image: Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Image: Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

Where to cuddle a koala in Western Australia

Lastly, Western Australia is very limited as far as koala holding goes, with only one wildlife park offering visitors the chance to hold one of these cute animals.

Cohunu Koala Park, Perth

Located 40 minutes from Western Australia’s capital of Perth, Cohunu Koala Park is the state’s only spot to get your hands on a koala for a souvenir photo.

Photo sessions with the koalas are held daily from 10 am to 4 pm, for a price of $30 per person. Given that it’s your only chance to do so in WA, the monetary investment may just be worth it!

Image: Cohunu Koala Park
Image: Cohunu Koala Park

In addition, if you’re looking for a complete list of tickets for some of these places to cuddle a koala around Australia, be sure to check out our main catalogue page for info and to grab your tickets online!

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    1. Hi Michelle,

      We hope you have a great time on your trip to Australia.

      Where in Australia are you hoping to hold a koala as all of the wildlife sanctuaries and zoos provide different experiences.

      Feel free to email me to discuss your upcoming trip and all of the koala holding options: brittney@experienceoz.com.au

      I look forward to hearing from you!

  1. Hello I would like to know about allow hold koala your area please let me know thanks. I’m Deaf and from Scotland. I’m at western Australia at Perth. Thank you Michelle

  2. Hi there,
    I’m coming across the world to visit Australia from the East Coast of Canada. I am flying in and out of Melbourne, but will travel wherever is closest to have a close encounter with a cuddly koala. Holding and hugging a koala has been on my bucket list for years! How far will I have to drive, and what is the closest zoo/sanctuary for koala encounters from Melbourne?

    Martha Maxwell
    New Brunswick, Canada

    1. Hi Martha,

      You’re going to have a great time in Melbourne, is it your first time visiting Australia?

      If you’re looking to cuddle a koala you’ll have to head out of Victoria and New South Wales for that matter as it is illegal to actually hold one. If you’re looking to drive, you can travel west to Cleland Wildlife Park near Adelaide or to Gorge Wildlife Park which is a little further away from Adelaide.

      The other option is to fly to Brisbane and cuddle a koala in Queensland, where it is legal. You can do so in Brisbane at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (the biggest koala sanctuary in the world!), or on the Gold Coast at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or Dreamworld or further north on the Sunshine Coast at Australia Zoo.

      You can have a look at a number of different passes and tickets to the zoos here: https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/t/zoos-and-aquariums

      I hope you have a great time on your visit to Australia and should you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to give our Reservation Team a call on +61 7 5592 2233


  3. Hi,
    Just letting you know that Adventure World in WA also offers a koala cuddle photo experience. It may be new since your article was written.

  4. HI,

    We are going to Sydney and the kids really like to cuddle a Koala, can you please let me know where we can do that? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      How exciting, we hope you and your family enjoy your visit! Sydney has plenty of options to see koalas – such as Taronga Zoo and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo – however Sydney is located in New South Wales and unfortunately it is not legal to hold a koala in New South Wales. If at all possible, a visit to Queensland is your best bet, with plenty of options throughout the state.

  5. Why is it illegal in those areas and not the others. Is there a danger in holding Koalas? I would think that if you went to any zoo or facility that has Koalas under their care that it would be safe for both the animal and person under the caretaker’s supervision.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      That’s a good question, I believe it’s due to Koalas being a protected species in parts of Australia, which is dependant on their population, and the level of protection can differ from state to state.

  6. I will be taking an Australian cruise which stops at Newcastle, Airlie Beach, Cairns (2 days), Port Douglas and Brisbane. Do you have a personal favorite at any of these stops? I want to make sure I make the best decisions since I have such limited time at each place. Thanks!

    1. Hi Erin,

      That sounds like an exciting holiday! There are plenty of opportunities to hug a koala throughout the Queensland leg of your journey, all of which are great. Personally, I really enjoyed my recent visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, which offers the complete koala hug experience (including professional photos which are currently $19).

      You can get your Lone Pine tickets here – https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/brisbane/lone-pine-koala-sanctuary/general-admission.

      I hope you enjoy your trip! If you do end up visiting Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, be sure to send us a review of your experience here for a $10 voucher – https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/write-reviews?mc_cid=aea7d1bd74&mc_eid=a3da716d5c

    1. Hi Ann,

      If you’re looking to hug a koala you’ll find plenty of opportunities in Queensland.

      Some of the most convenient options include Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or Dreamworld, both located on the Gold Coast, or the world famous Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.

      You can browse a number of our passes and tickets to various zoo’s here – https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/things-to-do/zoos-and-aquariums

      I hope you enjoy your visit to Australia and get some awesome photos with a koala to take home!

  7. Is there a wildlife rescue or area to see and hold Kualas between Sydney and Melbourne? And within driving distance from Melbourne?

  8. My family and I are going on a cruise and will visit the following cities, listed below. Will any of these ports have a place we can cuddle a koala. I am a cancer survivor and this is on my bucket list! Thank you!!
    Sydney, Australia — 6:45 PM 0
    Fri Eden, Australia 8:00 AM 4:00 PM 0
    Sat Burnie (Tasmania), Australia 10:00 AM 6:00 PM 0
    Sun Melbourne, Australia 9:00 AM Overnight 0
    Mon Melbourne, Australia 12:00 AM 5:00 PM 0
    Tue At Sea — — 0
    Wed At Sea — — 0
    Thu Milford Sound, New Zealand — Overnight 0
    Cruise Doubtful Sound — Overnight 0
    Cruise Dusky Sound — Overnight 0
    Fri Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand 9:00 AM 7:00 PM 0
    Sat Akaroa, New Zealand 8:00 AM 5:00 PM 0
    Sun Wellington, New Zealand 8:00 AM 5:00 PM 0
    Mon Napier, New Zealand 7:00 AM 2:00 PM 0
    Tue Tauranga, New Zealand 6:00 AM 5:00 PM 0
    Wed Auckland, New Zealand 7:00 AM 2:00 PM 0
    Thu At Sea — — 0
    Fri At Sea — — 0
    Sat Sydney, Australia (Flight Departure) 6:00 AM — 0

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for your question. You will definitely be able to see Koalas and go inside their enclosure at Taronga Zoo Sydney with a Koala encounter however, you will be unable to cuddle or touch them. Koala cuddles are only permitted in Queensland, West Australia and South Australia. If you have time to squeeze in a trip to Queensland before or after your cruise, there are several locations that you can have this experience.

      Enjoy your time in Australia and New Zealand!

  9. So what would be the best recommendation? I will be in Sydney for 2 days and 2 days in Melbourne. Is there any place close that I could cuddle Koalas in either City?

    1. Hello Pam,

      Great question. Koala cuddling is not permitted in Sydney or Melbourne but there are other unique Koala experiences that are offered to bring you up close with the animals.

      In Sydney, you can experience a buffet breakfast with Koalas at WILDLIFE Sydney Zoo and learn all about these cute creatures as well as have your photo taken during the experience.


      Or alternatively, visit Featherdale Wildlife Park- west of Sydney and get an authentic experience viewing and interacting with wildlife in a natural setting. At the moment, Featherdale Wildlife Park are offering an entry ticket and Koala encounter package so you can experience meeting and having your photo taken with a Koala.


      In Melbourne, you will be able to view Koalas at Melbourne Zoo. An additional private Koala experience is available where you will be able to pose beside a Koala in their enclosures and chat with the animal handlers.
      Tickets for Melbourne Zoo available here.


      Have a great time in Sydney and Melbourne.


  10. Hi!
    I will be in Canberra & Sydney next month, is there any place close that I could cuddle Koalas in either City?

    1. Hi Nathalia,

      You can enjoy a close encounter with Koalas at Featherdale Wildlife Park and Taronga Zoo or even have an incredible breakfast with the koalas at Wildlife Sydney Zoo, however cuddling is not permitted in Sydney or Canberra. Queensland is the Koala cuddling capital of Australia as is South Australia (Adelaide) and Western Australia (Perth).

      If you are interested in visiting any of these parks while you are in Sydney then the links are available for you to view below.

      Featherdale entry and Koala Photo Package

      Wildlife Sydney Zoo- Breakfast with the Koalas

      Taronga Zoo entry and Ferry Pass

      Thank You

  11. Hello, I will go to Melbourne, Gold coast, & Sydney next winter (July-August). Is there any place close that I could cuddle Koalas and Quokkas in either city? Since it has been my bucket list, Gee, I can’t wait to go to the oz trip! Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Aini,

      I would wait till you visit the Gold Coast as koala cuddling is not permitted in Melbourne or Sydney. There are several wildlife sanctuaries on the Gold Coast where you can have this magical experience including:

      Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary


      Paradise Country Breakfast with the Koalas

      Have a great holiday! See you in Australia.

  12. Wonderful page!!
    Do you have a map of all these please?
    I don’t know AU well, so am not sure which would be closest to our trip to Cairns.

  13. Hello!
    My dad is taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia end of January to mid February 2020. He has been planning it for years.

    He is hoping to hold a koala!

    He will be in Melbourne, Philip Island, Cairns, and Sydney. What is the best or closest place he could hold a koala?

    1. Hi Jen,

      The only destination out of the ones you have listed that will permit a koala cuddle is Cairns.

      Visit the Cairns Zoom & Wildlife dome, Kuranda Koala Gardens, Hartley Crocodile Adventures or the WILDLIFE Habitat in Port Douglas.

      Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

      Kuranda Koala Gardens

      WILDLIFE Habitat

      Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

      Thank You

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