The Home of the Crocodile Hunter

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
Trip End Feb 15, 2014

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, January 10, 2014

Australia Zoo was opened in 1970 by the Irwin family. The zoo is arguably one of the most famous in the world thanks to Steve Irwin who grew up here and featured in a number of television series mainly following his passion for crocodiles. Steve Irwin has become a bit of an Australian icon and is known as the crocodile hunter. 

Rachel had certainly been looking forward to this day for some time having been a big fan of Steve Irwin as a child, so we made sure to arrive early. We were not surprised to find that when we arrived there were lots of pictures of Steve around the zoo; his wife Terri, and his kids Bindi and Robert also heavily feature around the place and you definitely get the feeling it is a family business. 

The day didn’t start slowly, and within the first half hour we had a managed to stroke a Koala Bear and also feed Kangaroos. The Kangaroos were incredibly gentle and it was amazing to get so close to these famous Australian animals, all you need to do is put some ‘Roo Food’ in your hand and the animals will just hop right up to you and eat it! There were also lots of other opportunities to get up close to other animals; this made it feel so different to any other zoo we have visited. One of these opportunities was even a chance to meet some Tiger cubs, but unfortunately this was sold out well in advance. 

At the centre of the zoo is a mini stadium known as the Crocoseum; the main daily show is held here which went to see. This show involves the feeding of one of the many huge saltwater crocodiles at the zoo. This is the biggest crocodile we have ever seen, and we were very excited when Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin came out to host this feeding show. The show mainly involved Steve’s favourite passion - winding up and pissing off the crocodile in any way possible until it tried to eat them; they would then quickly retreat and give the crocodile some meat instead. Even the children got involved in this, and Robert is now allowed to feed the crocodile since his recent 10th birthday. The zoo staff then get in the nearby water and wait for the crocodile to swim after them!

On the subject of displays we also watched a tiger show; this made the news recently when one of the tigers tried to attack a zoo keeper, however when we watched the show it all went to plan apart from one tiger refusing to do any of the tricks which was quite funny. The show is basically a demonstration of tiger training which they practice daily, this helps to keep the tigers alert. This zoo is unique in that the handlers have very close relationships with the animals and this allows them to do this kind of training. Although it seems strange at first to see animals taking part in shows, it was nothing like in a circus, and the staff explained that being able to get so close to the animals enabled them to learn more and better understand them. We can certainly see the importance of this in research and conservation work. 

We spent the rest of the day looking at all of the other animals. We also visited the Wildlife Hospital which Steve Irwin setup as a tribute to his Mum; in the hospital we could see a couple of Joey’s being operated on. All of the animals treated at the hospital are then returned to their natural wild habitat, and it was great to support such a worthy cause. 

Visiting the zoo was a highlight of our time in Australia. It is clear Steve Irwin’s family do so much conservation work to help animals in Australia and around the world, and we were happy to be able to contribute and help to support them. It is a shame Steve Irwin died trying to help animals he loved and it is odd there is no mention of his death at the zoo – if you didn’t know better you would think he is still alive! 

At the end of the day we headed to Brisbane to drop off the car. In the last week we managed to drive just less than 1500 miles (2362km), we didn’t crash, but we had to avoid the Sat Nav occasionally trying to take us down gravel roads and into the odd field! 

Without a car we spent our last two days in Brisbane. Unlike in Sydney you hardly see any other tourists; the city is quite pleasant and has a free river ferry which can be used to get around. As Brisbane is not located next to a beach, the city has an area of man-made lagoon type free swimming pools which we spent our last day swimming in. This was a nice way to end a busy 15 days in Australia; now we head back to the North Island of New Zealand.
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