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Animal Magic Australia
You don’t have to travel far in Australia for an amazing wildlife encounter, as YHA discovered.
The Top End, NT
Whether they’re jumping for food on the appropriately-named Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise, or gliding silently through the wetlands at Yellow Water Billabong, seeing a croc up close is a primal experience. If you’re up for it, Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove gives you the opportunity to dive with a croc – safely enclosed within a clear cage. But nothing compares to seeing freshies and salties in the wild, especially when the wild is iconic Kakadu National Park. ‘Green Season’ in the Top End is a fantastic, if unpredictable, time to visit Kakadu. No need to book ahead, no hoards of tourists, no peak season prices. The waterfalls are roaring, the floodplains are, well, flooded, and scenery is flush with colour. Even better, the incredible range of birds and mammals are out and about getting busy for mating season. jumpingcrocodile.com.au
YHA member discount: save $5 off Crocodile Express Cruises & Coach Combo. Ex Darwin.
Stay at Darwin YHA
Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, TAS
An easy hour from Hobart, on the main highway to Port Arthur, this conservation park is the top spot to come face to face with these devilishly cute but endangered critters. You can also meet quolls and pademelons, hand-feed friendly kangaroos, see some crazy parrots in the state’s only free-flight bird show, and stroll the nature trail. Your entry cost contributes to efforts to save the iconic Tasmanian Devil, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. tasmaniandevilpark.com
YHA member discount: 25% off direct bookings.
Stay at Mongomery’s YHA, Hobart
Adelaide Zoo & Monarto Zoo, SA
Another capital city, another zoo you might think, but nowhere else in Australia can you see Giant Pandas. While Adelaide Zoo boasts around 1,800 animals in its green grounds, it’s Wang Wang and Funi who are the real drawcard here. Located 50 minutes drive from the city, you’ll find the zoo’s sister park, open range Monarto Zoo. A unique blend of conservation park, national park and zoo, its 1,000 hectares replicate the savannah grasslands and semi-arid habitats of Africa, Asia and South America. Jump on a Safari Tou, take the Zu-Loop Shuttle, or explore by foot via the walking track network. Visit zoossa.com.au
YHA member discount: Save 10% off general admission to Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Zoo.
Stay at Adelaide Central YHA
National Zoo and Aquarium, ACT
Ever wanted to be a zoo keeper for a day? Close-up encounters are the order of the day at the Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium, or Zooquarium as it’s affectionately known. From $120 (including zoo entry), you can go behind-the-scenes to feed and feel the animals on this 2-in-1 attraction’s Zooventure Tour. Imagine hand feeding a 110kg Sumatran tiger, having a brown bear lick honey from your hands, and coming face to face with lions, cougars, giraffe, otters, dingoes, and snakes. If your wallet is flush with credit, cat lovers can also shell out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a cheetah. nationalzoo.com.au/
YHA member discount: 15% off entry on presentation of valid membership card.
Stay at Canberra City YHA
Phillip Island Penguin Parade, VIC
It’s hard to resist a smile at fairy penguins that are so elegant in water but ungainly on land. Get up close to the world’s smallest penguin on Phillip Island with the famous sunset beach parade as they waddle up the beach to the safety of their sand dune burrows. Consider shelling out for the Penguins Plus option which gets you down near the beach. While you’re here, check out the Koala Conservation Centre, with its boardwalks which take you closer to the cuddly Aussie bears in the trees. visitphillipisland.com
Stay at Phillip Island YHA
Magnetic Island, QLD
The only place where you can sleep with a koala and a croc! Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA, on picture perfect Magnetic Island, is home to an onsite koala sanctuary where visitors can handle koalas, baby crocodiles, snakes and lizards, enjoy a bush tucker brunch with informative local rangers and learn about the island’s local flora and fauna. Why not take a guided horse trek along the island’s bush tracks and picturesque beaches before finishing off with a bareback dip in the Pacific waters. There’s animal magic aplenty on Maggie!
YHA member discount: $2 off adult entry to the Koala Sanctuary.
Stay at Bungalow Bay YHA
Mogo Zoo, NSW
This award-winning private zoo, 10km from NSW’s south coast gem Batemans Bay, has made a name for itself with its successful breeding programs for exotic and endangered animals. A visit here includes all your usual suspects plus a who’s who of the world’s rare and unusal wildlife, from Bengal tigers and Syrian brown bears, to primates (including new to the zoo gorillas), reptiles and mobs of meerkats, not to mention the first snow leopards to be born in Australasia for more than a decade. Personal encounters with meerkats, Red pandas, African servals and snakes are all available. But most famous among Mogo’s residents are the magnificent, rare white lions. Don’t miss feeding time at 10.30am. mogozoo.com.au While you're at Batemans Bay, don't miss a visit to Pebbly Beach to meet the friendly kangaroos.
YHA member discount: 10% off normal admission.
Stay at Batemans Bay YHA
PLUS YHA members can save on these wildlife attractions and encounters:
- Alice Springs Desert Park, NT - 20% off entry
- Adelaide Zoo, SA - 10% off entry
- Australian Reptile Park, Central Coast, NSW - 2 for 1 admission with purchase of entry to same or great value
- Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park, Port Macquarie, NSW - 10% off entry
- Birdland Animal Park, Batemans Bay, NSW - 10% off adult entry
- Canberra Reptile Zoo - 2 for 1 entry (adult tickets only)
- Cleland Wildlife Park, SA - 25% off full price admission
- Dolphin Marine Magic, Coffs Harbour, NSW - 10% off regular prices on all "in-water experiences" with dolphins and seals (excludes peak periods). $30 entry tickets with YHA card
- Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney, NSW - 15% off entry
- Gorge Wildlife Park, SA - 20% off
- Halls Gap Zoo, The Grampians, VIC - 10% off zoo entry
- Hunter Valley Zoo, Pokolbin, NSW - 10% off adult entry to the zoo
- Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park, Broome WA - Discount entry - only $30
- Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary - 15% off adult entry
- Melbourne Zoo - 10% off full adult admission
- Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Mornington Peninsula, VIC - 10% discount on day admission
- Monarto Open Range Zoo, SA - 10% off
- Polperro Dolphin Swims, Sorrento, VIC - 20% off
- Shark Cage Diving, Port Lincoln, SA - Get 1 free night at Port Lincoln YHA when you book Calypso Star Charters’ Full Day Shark Dive Tour
- SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, VIC - 20% off single adult entry tickets
- SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, NSW - 15% off adult entry
- Taronga Zoo Sydney, NSW - 15% off adult and child admission prices
- UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba, QLD - 15% off adult entry
- Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne, VIC - 10% off full adult admission
- WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, NSW - 15% off adult entry