Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has one of the largest collections of native animals on display anywhere in the world and the organisation promotes education through interaction. There are a number of endangered species programs as well an excellent Wildlife Hospital.  

First, we take a look at the highlights of the sanctuary from a visitor’s viewpoint – Irene Isaacson visited Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and was wowed by what she saw.

Next, we go behind the scenes with reservations manager Kaz Inoue to learn more about what life is like at Currumbin from the inside and how to get a daily dose of animal love. 

Currumbin wildlife
Two points of view of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

One of the key features about Currumbin is it’s a not-for-profit organisation owned by the National Trust of Australia (Qld) that reinvests all of its revenue to fund the upkeep of the property, endangered species programs and wildlife hospital.

The organisation is also a tourism pioneer on the Gold Coast and is well set up to cater to visitors and is a fantastic Gold Coast attraction for kids to visit when holidaying with the family.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Visitors Perspective

By Irene Isaacson


What’s new at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary?

Ever heard of Gondwana, a supercontinent formed billions of years ago? 

Well, it included Atlantica, India, Australia, Antarctica, and Zealandia. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s Lost Valley is a tribute to Gondwanaland. 

The Lost Valley of Gondwanaland

See over 8000 trees and shrubs re-creating a prehistoric rainforest and walk amongst exotic animals native to an ancient time.

Five years in the planning, the Lost Valley is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s latest $2.5M redevelopment.

Opened on Boxing Day 2017, this 5-hectare exhibit includes the largest walk-through aviary in the Southern hemisphere.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary -From left, clockwise: 1. Sir Alex Griffiths, Founder of the Sanctuary 2. Animals With Attitude – one of many giant koala sculptures on the Gold Coast  3. Historic miniature railway 4. Front entrance to the Sanctuary. Photos by Irene Isaacson.

Open from 9.30 to 3.30pm, Lost Valley is a uniquely immersive experience at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

And to get you in the mood, the path to Lost Valley is adorned with life-like dinosaurs. It’s a big hit with children of all ages.

Home to many exotic animals including Cotton-top tamarins, rare and unusual Lumholz and Goodfellow’s Tree-kangaroos.

You will also find Red pandas, Capybaras, and exotic reptiles. 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary fauna
Lost Valley – From left, clockwise: One of the gorgeous 2-year-old Ring-tailed lemurs; A Cotton-top tamarin; A sleepy Tree kangaroo basking in the sunlight; The close-knit family of well camouflaged Stone-curlews

Through elevated boardwalks, enter the lost world of a steamy rainforest with a creek and waterfalls set in the huge aviary.

Be at one with free-flying birds including a family of Stone-curlews.

See if you can spot the colourful Eclectus parrots, Emerald doves, and a Green-winged Macaw.

You may be lucky enough to find brightly coloured Mandarin ducks and stunning Golden pheasants.

Or be embraced (literally!) by free-roaming two-year-old Ring-tailed lemurs, Vintana and Andro, watched over by their attentive keeper, Ali Wright (Exotic Supervisor).

The Lost Valley exhibit is indeed a beautiful and a fantastic experience not to be missed.

History of the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Huge wedge-tailed eagle at the Free Flying Bird Show
A huge wedge-tailed eagle, with, Beau, one of the wildlife handlers at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. 

The Gold Coast is known for extreme adventures, theme parks, shopping and the world-class Gold Coast surf beaches.

But, if a wildlife experience is what you are looking for, then Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is for you.

The Sanctuary was the first nature-based tourist attraction on the Gold Coast.

Built in 1947, it was the original idea of a local beekeeper and floriculturist, Sir Alex Griffiths.

As a distraction to ruining his flower and honey business, he created a small scale tourist venture.

He began feeding huge flocks of beautiful wild Rainbow lorikeets to keep them from destroying his flowers.

And from these humble beginnings, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary became a place to watch and feed these colourful native Australian birds.

Later in 1964, a 300m long track for a miniature railway was built to take tourists around the ever-increasing size of the park.

Natural expansion of the 90-acre site resulted in Sir Alex building a tunnel under the Gold Coast Highway to connect the different areas.

Then in 1976, it was gifted to the National Trust to be renamed the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in 1995.

The adventure park course began in 2009, the same year when the Sanctuary was also proudly added to the Queensland Heritage List. 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary koala mum and koala baby
There are many koalas at Currumbin Sanctuary. Here’s a photo of a caring koala mum and her baby. You can even have your koala photo opportunity to take home as a great souvenir.

Today, this not-for-profit zoological garden is one of the most popular and well-loved Gold Coast tourist attractions.

The feeding of the Lorikeets is still an iconic Gold Coast attraction for kids especially.

Free entrance to the Sanctuary Café allows everyone to join in the fun at the 8 am and 4 pm ‘sittings’.

Wildlife Shows at Currumbin

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Encounter shows
Animal Encounters and Live Shows at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary:  From left, clockwise: 1. Crocodiles Live Show 2. The Big Fang Theory Reptile Show  3. Snake and Possum Photo Opportunity 4. Free Flight Bird Show

There is so much to do at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Daily entertainment shows include the Big Fang Theory Reptile Show and Free Flight Bird Show.

Very popular is Crocodiles Live featuring a huge five-metre saltwater croc.

Be early to get a good vantage point, or you may miss out.

A pure Australiana experience is the classic Sheep Shearing Show.

But my personal favourite is the Aboriginal Dance Show featuring dancers and a fantastic didgeridoo instrumentalist.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Jellurgal Aboriginal Show
The Jellurgal Aboriginal Dance Troop perform daily at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – a show not to be missed!

Close Animal Encounters Of The Third Kind

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary animals
Meet some of the beautiful animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: From top left, clockwise: 1. A shy Red panda high in the tree  2. ‘Big Red’, a huge male Red kangaroo  3. A Scalloped-edged turtle  4. A photo opportunity with a baby Crocodile  5. Watch out, there’s an Echidna on ‘walkabout.’

And after the shows, there are wildlife photo opportunities for memorable souvenirs.

Wrap a snake around your neck, hold a cuddly possum or scary iguana.

Or pose with a majestic bird of prey such as a huge Wedge-tailed eagle (but watch out for the beak and those impressive talons!).

You can watch keepers feed the Pelicans, Eels and Alpine dingoes, or the birds in the Land of the Parrots, as well as the noisy Tasmanian devils.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary birds
Some of the many beautiful, rare and exotic birds you can meet at Currumbin Sanctuary: From top left, clockwise:  1. Barn Owl  2. Tawny frog-mouth  3. Brightly coloured Rainbow lorikeets  4. A very curious Cape-goose  5. Stunning Eclectus parrot

There are so many animal encounters to choose from.

While the ‘cuddle-a-koala’ is always a crowd favourite, you can also feed kangaroos, walk a wombat or even an Alpine dingo.

And for the more daring, you can even help feed the crocodiles, if so inclined!

Tree Top Challenge

For the more adventurous, Tree Top Challenge is a great high rope adventure park for all ages and abilities.

With five courses, over 80 rope challenges and 11 thrilling zip lines, there’s plenty to choose from.

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of nature as you fly over the trees across the Dingo and Tasmanian devils.

Or do the Croc Shock and zip high over the Crocodile lake (dare to take a selfie at that moment – there’s certainly no going back for a dropped camera on that flying fox!).

Saving Wildlife

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary collage of Wildlife Hospital
The Currumbin Wildlife Veterinary Hospital.

But Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is much more than a nature-based tourist attraction.

Sir Alex became known as a local natural wildlife carer, taking in many sick and injured animals.

And the Sanctuary’s heart today is still in saving animals and wildlife conservation.

The Hospital’s Foundation supports the state-of-the-art Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

Admitting over 10,000 animals last year, including more than 400 Koalas and 120 Turtles, it plays a huge role in the wildlife community.

Currumbin bird sanctuary

As a visitor to the Sanctuary, you can view the inner workings of the hospital through its unique glass-fronted design.

We watched in awe as a Vet operated on a sick Wombat, oblivious to growing crowds observing her in action.

As close to reality ‘tv’ as you could wish for!

The Sanctuary is involved in many wildlife conservation projects such as breeding Northern Eastern Bristlebirds and Orange-bellied parrots.

Also, it supports research on Glossy black-cockatoos and endangered Macleay’s fig-parrots, as well as working with rare Tinker frogs.

Fundraising efforts include selling novel Walkways For Wildlife engraved pavers and collecting donations for their Tree For Me koala program.

Also promoting increased awareness are the giant Koala Animals With Attitude sculptures displayed on the Gold Coast.

Educational Programs at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin wildlife

As we will only preserve what we know, understand and love, education about wildlife around us is an important role of the Sanctuary.

Thus programs such as Nature Ed and WOW (Wildlife On Wheels where they come to you!) are a valued activity of the Sanctuary.

Spreading the word to children is paramount so one day they may come to appreciate and value our wonderful world of nature.

Be part of this wonderful family experience.

Currumbin wildlife

Discover lost worlds, see exotic animals, wander through beautiful rainforest gardens.

Ride a historic miniature railway or try a Segway Safari.

Or fly through treetops and be laughed at by Kookaburras.

In summary, there is much more to Currumbin than you imagine.

If you haven’t the time to visit nearby Mt Tambourine for walks and Springbrook National Parks, or Binna Burra and O’Reilly’s Eco-lodges in the Gold Coast hinterland, then Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary makes for a great alternative day out.

So, get in touch with all that Australian nature has to offer and get on over here, you won’t regret it!

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Insider Interview 

By Christina Pfeiffer

Currumbin wildlife
Working at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a great opportunity if you love wildlife.

If you’re a wildlife lover, you’ve probably wondered what it’s like to work in a zoo or a wildlife sanctuary.

Being around animals every day is a dream for many.

I caught up with Kaz Inoue, who has been working at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast in Queensland for eight years.   


A typical day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin wildlife

My typical day as the Reservations Manager starts by saying hi to the lorikeets at 8 am and finalise bookings for the following day, process future bookings.  

I liaise with everyone like really everyone, future guests, school teachers, mothers, fathers, agents from all over the world over the phone, email, fax and staff and volunteers in regards to all sorts of bookings.  

After lunch, I go for a walk to hand out the booking sheet for the following day.


Do you get to enjoy the animals?

gold coast zoo

Yes, when I’m handing out the booking sheets I get to see those cute koalas!

I try to go and have a look at other animals before I start work once a week.

That’s when I get to see the kangaroos, emus and other animals. 

Predominately we have native species of Australian animals on display with only a handful of exotic species. 

These are used to showcase the effects introduced species can have on an ecosystem in a number of our 13 shows daily, in a fun and informative way.

Tell us a bit about the hospital

gold coast zoo


Over the last 10 years, the wildlife hospital has released more than 45,000 native animals back into the wild after they have been treated at the sanctuary.

With over 8,000 animals now being treated and rehabilitated each year, this vital service is needed more than ever for our local communities. 

Currumbin wildlife
It started off as the Currumbin bird sanctuary but these days, Currumbin has grown into a fully fledged wildlife sanctuary.

It’s a place where they can bring sick and injured native wildlife for free to be taken care of by our professional team of vets and vet nurses.  


The hospital has in the last two years had a foundation (charity) created for it to raise much needed vital funds to keep the doors of the community side of the hospital open.

What’s your favourite animal in Currumbin?

Currumbin bird sanctuary

That’s a very hard question!  

I love all the animals at work.

Koalas are the closest animals from my office.

I have to say they are my favourite.

We have different owls and they are also my favourite at the moment. 

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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Irene Isaacson
While living the life on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and actively volunteering with wildlife organisations in her spare time as a semi-retired medical doctor, Irene has travelled the world with her shark scuba diving husband, Tony Isaacson (aka DiveCareDare). Experiencing wonderful wildlife adventures as well as voluntourism, travel and nature photography has become her passion. She loves to share their experiences via Instagram and YouTube, in an effort to increase awareness and promote conservation. On a mission to make a difference, their shared motto is: "In the end, we conserve only what we love, we love only what we understand, and we understand only what we can learn." (adapted from Baba Dioum 1968)