Patting a kangaroo. Cuddling a koala. (Sydney)

You are visiting Australia and beyond seeing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, you want to see a kangaroo and pat a koala. You can do both. There are many places through the states where you can pat and even feed a kangaroo and cuddle a koala.

Unfortunately in NSW laws define that you are unable to cuddle a koala. You will however be close enough to touch one and feel their fur. As for the cuddles – you may need to be satisfied with the stuffed toy from the gift shop. You won’t be disappointed. Koalas are such a unique animal and they really are so sweet that being up close to one is such a lively experience you will not be left feeling that you didn’t get the bucket list ticked. Just think of it in relation to tigers in Thailand that are heavily drugged for tourist photos. The law is avoiding that becoming common practice and ensuring the animals welfare is considered.

Read on to discover the do’s and don’ts and where the best places are.

Koala Park Sanctuary located in West Pennant Hills and with an entry fee of $27 adults and $15 for children. The park is tired and running on few funds. They need a big injection of cash to upgrade and refresh everything. If you want your memory of koala’s and kangaroo’s to be one of old and tired animals, this is the place for you. Having said that, you will be getting a more authentic experience here than really slick and big business. You will also know your money will be going directly to the welfare of these animals and not to glossy brochures and sleek website pages.

Featherdale Wildlife Park – located only 45 minutes form the center of Sydney you could use this as a brief stop on your way to the Blue Mountains or just as a trip by itself. These guys have been in business for a long time and they are strongly committed to animal and environmental education. A family ticket will cost you $85 for a family of 4. To hold and get a photo with a koala it is a further $0. Say what? Yep, the koala experience is at no extra charge.  You will be able to hand feed the wallabies here and you get a little thing of food upon arrival.

photo courtesy of Fetherdale.com.au
photo courtesy of Fetherdale.com.au

Taronga Zoo – is possibly one of the most popular destinations for tourists to Sydney. The zoo has an amazing view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge so a walk through the grounds is very pleasant. A family ticket (family of four) will cost $129. If you think you’ve been to one zoo and then you’ve been to them all, then Taronga will change your opinion of zoos. They are a world leader in animal conservation and education and it shows in the contentment of their animals. If you want animal encounters you can add a koala encounter for $24.95 (run at 11.00am and 2.45pm daily dependent upon availability) and a penguin encounter for $49.95.(run daily at 2.00pm with limited numbers)  They have other encounters but as far as Australian animals go – these are the pick. The zoos added bonus is you can arrive by ferry and as you sail over Sydney harbour you will be able to savour all the sites on your way to and from.

Sydney WildLife Park is located within the Sydney CBD area. (yes, so it is not very big)They have loads of different ticket options. A family ticket however would cost you $89 for 2 + 2 and then add $35 per person for a 15 minute koala experience. I however would recommend the koala breakfast for $180 starting at 7.15am. You honestly will not regret the extra cash for this wonderful experience.

photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney
photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney
photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney
photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney
photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney
photo courtesy of Wildlife Sydney

Whatever you choose, the uniqueness of our wildlife is truly special and whilst you may of seen them in zoos overseas, seeing them in their own country and surroundings is special. Wallabies and kangaroos are a plenty when you get out of the city limits. Koalas are a little more scarce but not impossible to see. Wombats are common in the southern highlands and it is possible to see them in the wild. Animal spotting is truly one of my happiest adventures when I am away. The kids will love it and taking home a soft koala as a memento of your trip can only keep the memory for longer.

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