Visiting Steve Irwin Zoo in Australia

by Eileen
(Medina, Ohio)

Visiting Steve Irwin Zoo in Australia

My husband and I are coming to Australia for the first time to celebrate my retirement from elementary education after 25 years.

My "bucket list" was always to come to the Steve Irwin Zoo. I am a fanatic about animals and regret his sudden death. Our plan is to first go to Brisbane and then over to Phillips Island - I collect anything penguins!

We wondered if Qantas Airlines is the best way to fly? We also wonder where to stay in Brisbane to be closest to the zoo?

We plan on "splurging" and do a "behind the scene one on one" with the zookeepers. I would love to have my copy of Steve Irwins life signed by one of the Irwin family! What a treasure that would be!

We also need to know how to get to Phillip Island after Brisbane? We should fly down, right?

Will our travel agent be able to arrange all that.

Is it true you need a visa and passport to travel to Australia?

We are a little worried about March being the "rainy" season in Australia?

Thanks for any information you can help us with. We are so excited to be visiting your country FINALLY!

Eileen of Ohio - firstly congratulations on your upcoming retirement and your first visit to Australia. It is awesome to get to plan out an item on your bucket list.

I will try to answer all your questions as best I can below!

Extra Notes & Tips For Visitors

If you are reading this, but you want some other options, I suggest you check out these other resources.

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Staying in the Gold Coast and wanting transfers ?
Australia Zoo transfers from the Gold Coast

And don't forget to check out our best deals for Australia Zoo tickets and family passes.

Okay, I will try to order into something that makes sense.

Firstly, yes you absolutely NEED a current, valid passport with at least 6 months before expiry and a Visa to visit Australia. Once you have a passport, you will need to apply for an Australia Visa. You can do that either at an embassy or consulate in USA or you can do online with something called an ETA (Electonic Travel Authority Visa). On my page about Australian Visas you will find lots more information and links to a simple way and inexpensive way to arrange that.

I assume from your comments you plan to fly into Brisbane from USA, stay in Brisbane and visit Steve Irwin's Zoo - which is called Australia Zoo. Australia Zoo is actually located about an hour and 15 minutes drive north of Brisbane. The area where it is situated does not have any large hotels nearby, you could stay on the Sunshine Coast in various locations, which would definitely be closer.

Australia Zoo is open from 9am to 5pm daily (except Christmas day and only open in afternoon on ANZAC Day 25 April each year) and shows run from about 10am through to about 3.30pm.

You can hire a car and drive yourself, if you are comfortable to drive in Australia (we drive on the left hand side, in cars where the driver sits on the right hand side - which is opposite to USA!). This will give you the most time in the zoo and the most flexibility. There is free parking at the zoo and it is fairly easy to get to.

Alternatively, there are buses that will take you from Brisbane directly to Australia Zoo for the day. Australia Zoo transfers leave about 8.45am and arrive back around 5.45pm giving you around 6 hours at the zoo.

However, you mention that you want to splurge... therefore I am thinking you will want to take advantage of the Platinum Australia Zoo Adventure Tour - which means you will need to drive yourself there to be ready to start your adventure at 8am before the park opens to the public. You will have to check on their website for details about the behind the scenes activities etc.

If you want to stay nearby on the Sunshine Coast, places like Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Hyatt Regency Coolum or a little further north in one of my favourite spots there are plenty of option in Noosa (look for options on or near Hastings Street if you stay there!).

I don't know how many days you plan to stay in Brisbane or Sunshine Coast. There are other things to do for sure that you would enjoy.

If you were to stay in Brisbane, there are many hotels in the city or South Bank area. These two areas give vistors the best options and there are things to do in and around Brisbane that I think you would enjoy, such as cruising on the river, a trip to Tangalooma and hand feeding the dolphins!

Back to your questions. Philip Island where the fairy penguins and penguin parade are, is about 2 hours drive south of Melbourne in Victoria. Melbourne is a 2 hour plane flight from Brisbane and within Australia we have a couple of airlines that operate between our major cities. You can check for flights on QANTAS (not quantas - because it stands for Queensland And Northern Territory Air Service!) which is a full service airline, with budget airlines being Virgin Australia and JetStar - these airlines are great and will save you money but you will have to pay for food and make sure you have luggage allowances. We generally fly with either of these two airlines, but you may find a travel agent can get a special deal for you anyway.

Now to address the weather! Never predictable, I don't consider March to be a particularly rainy part of the year, it will more than likely rain at some point, but it is not in my opinion the height of our rainy season (usually summer months, December to February). You can check out more information about weather in Gold Coast and Australian Weather on those pages.

Finally, I hope I have answered your questions, I am sure you will have more, so please use the comments below.

If you would prefer you can contact me directly via my contact form.


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