Thursday, March 16, 2023

Lovely Lone Pine: Australia's the place to cuddle koalas, feed 'roos

It's "kangaroo communion" as Bruce Keller feeds two hungry critters at Lone Pine near 
Brisbane, Australia.  We flew 7,513 miles to commune with these curious creatures in one of the world's largest and best run animal preserves, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.




Plus a delightful, informative boat ride to get you there in sight-seeing comfort

Brisbane's Mirimar II offers the best, most scenic way
to get to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It leaves from
downtown Brisbane, making its way through the city
and into beautiful woodlands

I would converse in polar bear and python
I would curse in fluent kangaroo
If people asked me, can you speak rhinoceros?
I'd say, of courserous, can't you?"

--from "Talk to the Animals." 1964 Academy Award best song Oscar, from "Dr. Doolittle" with Rex Harrison    



 of a relaxing boat trip to a place where we could feed active kangaroos and contented koalas. People remembered their time on the river to a world famous sanctuary in the suburbs of Brisbane.
Those stories don't do justice to this marvelous place where critters are protected, loved and cared for as if they were royalty in a penthouse.
One has to see it to believe it.
The Koala and River Cruise and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary deliver.
We booked the five-hour Koala Cruise excursion not knowing what to expect, but we'd read
rave reviews and other travel writers endorsed it.
The wildlife shows at Lone Pine are extraordinary.
Here, a bird of prey has his eyes us as he flies close overhead
WE CLIMBED aboard the sleek and comfy Mirimar II. The Skipper was glad to see us as the boat had seen little activity since COVID and was just beginning to recover from the lapse of bookings and temporary curtailment.
We settled in to perfect seats on the top deck for a fascinating narrated boat journey to the Koala sanctuary. 
Both Lone Pine and the boat that takes you there are treasures. While Lone Pine's title implies a focus on that sleepy resident of Australia's thousands of eucalyptus trees, the premier attraction is also home to dozens of contented kangaroos, shy dingos, saltwater crocodiles and a bounty of beautiful birds. Beautifully trained sheep dogs are in residence, too, along with stealthy birds of prey, who perform with skilled trainers in a breathtaking show.
A mother kangaroo and her large joey seem
happy to be among Lone Pine animal lovers.
ONCE COMFORTABLY on board, with coffee from the snack bar, we traveled up the river a leisurely 20 miles to Lone Pine. There we disembarked and walked a brisk uphill trail from the jetty, up a tree-lined path to the sanctuary entrance.
The Mirimar Koala and River cruise has been taking visitors to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for over 70 years and is a "must do" experience while in Brisbane. We cruised through Brisbane's historic landscapes, iconic attractions, pastoral scenery home to mansions,  and interesting wildlife habitats. We were happy to listen to the entertaining recorded commentary, with occasional asides from the knowledgeable captain.
We entered the sanctuary for nearly three hours to explore.  Some people stopped for lunch at the cafe, but we'd brought our own snacks, so took off to study the trails and decide where to go first.
WE HEADED for the kangaroos and weren't sorry.
Lone Pine is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. But first, we passed by 130 koalas, most of them snoozing with a few brought out for photos.  We learned that the koalas have a light schedule, working only a few days a week and then for a couple hours at a time. They lead a pampered, well tended life.
For under $20, visitors can hold a koala
under the watchful eye of a trainer. The
pretty creatures "work" on a revolving,
pampering schedule are are not over-taxed.

The kangaroo feeding was joyful.  The pellets we purchased look like dog kibble and were nibbled gratefully up by the 'roos right from our hands as we stroked and talked to them. We walked among them, petting, smiling, watching them nurse their young.
We enjoyed several shows, including a lively birds of prey show -- dramatic as two trainers coached the birds to fly back and forth, over our heads.
The Australian sheep dog and sheep shearing shows were fast-paced and fun. 
Views from Mirimar are great
with not a bad seat for gazing.

We missed the platypus swimming but admired a giant alligator, complete with his trainer's affectionate allegory. Then lorikeet feeding -- more fun!
The animal haven boasts 70 species of Australian native animals in a spacious natural bush setting befitting the world's first and largest koala sanctuary.  The boat stays long enough to allow time for the changing shows and  naturalist talks.  Activities are spaced so that one has time to wander leisurely.
LONE PINE is thoughtfully designed. Signs point to various trails and shows so if you're interested in the sheep dog or birds, you can be on time and find a good seat.  Its 44 acres allow animal lovers to explore and find places of individual interest. Families, couples, student groups and singles looking for a nature-driven diversion are comfortable at Lone Pine.
Cookie is thrilled
to feed the 'roos.

The unique restaurant and food service area are lined with koala cages so one can munch lunch and watch the sleepy critters at the same time. Occasionally, we saw one rouse himself slightly to snack, dreamlike, on a eucalyptus branch.  One youngster remarked, "Look, mum, they poop in their sleep."  

ON THE RETURN voyage, our Mirimar companions savored 
Lone Pine has excellent signs and marks to guide
you to exhibits, shows and place to place.

 our time in a magical place. The bar was open for beverages and snacks, as we motored past those stately homes with a capsulized commentary. Prices for both the boat ride and sanctuary entry range from $55 to a family ticket for $250 Aussie dollars. The handsome boat also does charters.

Accomplished actors Richard Baird and Amanda
Evans, among a gifted cast in "The Cherry Orchard.
BEST BETS: Anton Chekhov's masterpiece, with its elegant prose and stirring story, meets David Ellenstein's stylish direction of a dream ensemble in Northcoast Repertory Theater's thoughtful production of one of theater's great plays, "The Cherry Orchard." The story of an aristocratic Russian landowner returning to her family estate just before it is auctioned touches the heart and tickles the funnybone.
The moving story of class struggle and life changes shines with both humor and poignant momentsThe San Diego production is getting raves for its timely appeal. Although written 120 years ago, the timeless tale grips and stays, a complex study of social change and the intricacies of relationships. It runs through April 2 in this intimate, appealing venue.  858 481-1055

With the city skyline as a backdrop, Christene "Cookie" Meyers
and Bruce Keller travel the waterfront of Brisbane, Australia.
UP NEXT: We're off to fun, bustling Brisbane, then on to natural wonders in Katoomba, a gorgeous mountain town near Sydney where we feature a delightful hotel, Mountain Heritage Inn, to enhance your visit with spectacular scenery and first-class ambiance. First, the busy capital of Queensland, Australia, on the meandering Brisbane River. It's  deeply connected to water sport, culture, nature and life on the river. This hip, modern-day city pays homage to its past in stately homes, parks and country estates. From free ferry rides to an animal preserve, rock climbing, botanical gardens, art galleries and kayaking, it's a town of many faces, moods and pursuits. Come with us, remembering to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family, the arts and more, at:


  1. Albany Animal LoversMarch 17, 2023 at 1:39 PM

    This is wonderful! Wish we could get there....maybe next year. Thank you!

  2. We've been to this wonderful preserve three times and never get bored. Different experience each time. So well run and excellent animal shows. Appreciate your sharing and the photos are delightful, too.

  3. Annapolis Animal LoversMarch 20, 2023 at 10:14 AM

    There's no more satisfying experience then bonding with another species. Thanks for expressing it so well.

  4. Baltimore Nature BuffsMarch 22, 2023 at 11:55 AM

    This is the best animal preserve we've visited. So glad to get the word out about these beautiful creatures found only in Australia.