1. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania
Located not too far from Hobart, Bonorong is a definite must-do during your time in Tassie – it’s definitely not your average wildlife park. With the aim of rescuing thousands of suffering animals from the wild each year and nursing them back to health, they have been doing ongoing wildlife and conservation work for many years, their unique service funded entirely by entry fees from the park – so you know your visit alone is going to help. Bonorong is not a zoo – it’s a wildlife sanctuary which is focused on giving back to the Tasmanian environment, rather than simply being a showcase. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can see certain animals which are extinct everywhere else in the world, such as the famous Tasmanian devil! And what’s great about the park is you can really get up close and personal with the animals, experience them first hand and learn lots about each species through the animal encounters, feeding sessions and behind-the-scenes tours. Whether you have a few days or a few weeks, Bonorong is definitely somewhere you want to add to your itinerary – I can’t recommend it enough!
2. Australia Zoo: Home of the Crocodile Hunter
Described as the ultimate Australian wildlife experience, this zoo – located on the beautiful Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane – is home to thousands of wildlife species, as well as being a dedicated tribute to the one and only Steve Irwin. You will need an entire day to experience all that this zoo has to offer – stroll through the different ‘continents’ of the world, see the world-renowned crocodile show in the Crocoseum, have a cuddle and a photo with the resident koalas, feed the friendly kangaroos dotted around Kanga land, and even pay a visit to the local Wildlife Hospital on site.
3. Rottnest Island
Ok, maybe this is slightly cheating – it’s not technically a wildlife ‘park’, but it’s without doubt one of the top places in Australia for local wildlife. Located just off Perth on the west coast, Rottnest Island is renowned for its high conservation and community values and home to a plethora of wildlife, marine life, birds, reptiles and flora, including the island’s resident quokkas. Described as “a kind of rat as big as a common cat”, it is this unique species which the island is actually named after – ‘Rotte nest’ literally meaning ‘rat’s nest’. Known for being one of the happiest animals on Earth, these little fellas are super friendly and approachable around the island – but be careful not to feed them as this will alter their natural behaviour and could have serious consequences for the population. A day on Rottnest really is an unforgettable experience, and I’d even go as far as to say one of the most beautiful, rugged and natural landscapes I have seen on my travels.