Family | Adventure 21 March 2023

5 wildlife experiences to enjoy in Port Douglas

From cuddly koalas and cute tree kangaroos to curious crocodiles and prehistoric cassowaries, the Port Douglas region is rich with wildlife encounters and experiences of all kinds.

Located between the ancient Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, this area is home to some of the world’s rarest and most unusual creatures – and this is your chance to see them up close in a safe and fun way.

Explore the wild side of Port Douglas when you board a wildlife cruise, hand-feed kangaroos, visit a crocodile farm and let parrots land on your head. These five wildlife experiences are the perfect way to fill a day or two with unforgettable Aussie animal encounters near Port Douglas.

Meet Aussie animals at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

The award-winning Wildlife Habitat, located in Port Douglas, provides visitors with a chance to get up close with your favourite Australian animals. This zoo and sanctuary gives you a window into the animal kingdom as you explore five unique environments – wetlands, rainforest, savannah, woodlands and nocturnal – and meet the creatures that call each habitat home.

Say g’day to Aussie favourites, from kangaroos and koalas to emus and cockatoos. Hand-feed kangaroos, watch a crocodile presentation, and see the rare Lumholtz tree kangaroos and endangered cassowary.  

Eager wildlife lovers can book extra special sessions, such as lunch with lorikeets and behind-the-scenes keeper experiences. Best of all, this advanced eco-certified wildlife park is just a short drive from Oaks Port Douglas.

Cuddle a koala at Kuranda Koala Gardens

Colourful Kuranda is an unmissable day trip experience from Port Douglas. Nicknamed the “Village in the Rainforest”, this stunning mountain refuge is surrounded by the world’s oldest living tropical rainforest and has been a favourite escape for locals and visitors for more than a century.

What the award-winning Kuranda Koala Gardens lacks in size it makes up for in cuteness. Run by descendants of one of Kuranda’s pioneering families, this boutique wildlife park is the place to hand-feed wallabies and pademelons; meet cute wombats, quokkas and gliders; and spot freshwater crocodiles, bearded dragons and blue tongue lizards camouflaging in the sun.

Perhaps best of all, Kuranda Koala Gardens is one of few places across Australia where you can cuddle a sleepy koala. Get a special photo taken with your new furry mate as a souvenir to remember your time in the north.

Conveniently located at the Kuranda Heritage Markets, it’s an easy addition to your day in the mountains. You can pair this wildlife park with Birdworld Kuranda and save on entrance fees.

Go crazy for crocs at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

If you’re curious about these scaly and sometimes scary reptiles, then there’s no better place than Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. As the name suggests, this local wildlife park is mad about crocs. Twice daily, you can expand your knowledge with a crocodile farm tour and catch a thrilling crocodile show. 

Between shows, wander along 2,500 metres of boardwalks that wind through melaleuca wetlands, eucalypt woodland and riverine rainforest. Try spotting magnificent mega crocs, or saying g’day to tropical birds, wallabies, reptiles, insects and more.

Don’t skip the 20-minute boat cruise that takes you out on Hartley’s Lagoon and into the heart of croc country. Ranging in size from two-and-a-half to five metres, these giant crocs might be hiding in the mud or floating silently beside the boat. Either way, you’re in for a thrilling cruise where the crocs have space to behave just like they do in the wild.

Beyond the crocs, this award-winning animal sanctuary is home to cassowaries, alligators, komodo dragons, snakes, koalas, emus, lizards and kangaroos too.

Take flight at Birdworld Kuranda

Flashes of red, blue, green, black, yellow and white whiz past your eyes the second you enter Birdworld Kuranda. Look up to see some of Australia’s most gorgeous parrots and lorikeets flying high overhead, and if you’re lucky, a feathered friend might even land on your head or shoulders.

Birdworld is home to some of the most spectacular birds, including Amazonian macaws, cheeky rainbow lorikeets, vibrant parrots, sweet galahs and noisy cockatoos. Wander about the natural rainforest landscapes and atriums, greeting some of the 350 species of birds. They come in more colours, shapes, sizes than you can imagine!

The immersive displays will keep you entertained for hours, particularly if you’re a family with a big bag of bird food to share or a keen photographer trying to capture the feathered creatures in action.

Don’t miss the chance to meet the magnificent Jimmy, an endangered and dangerous cassowary. This giant flightless prehistoric bird is a native to this area of Tropical North Queensland.

Birdworld Kuranda is also at the Kuranda Heritage Markets and can be combined with the Kuranda Koala Gardens.

Get cultured at Rainforestation Nature Park

Meet Australia’s favourite cute, furry, rough and scaly friends at Rainforestation’s Koala & Wildlife Park. Here you can hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, tease Tropical North Queensland’s only Tasmanian Devils, and smile at a giant, five-metre-long saltwater crocodile called Jack the Ripper.

Meet a rare Lumholtz tree kangaroo and get to know Juliet the sneaky wombat, two dingoes named Ned and Kelly, and Ricky the cheeky sulphur-crested cockatoo. Then there’s the snakes, lizards, pythons and other slithery creatures keeping cosy in the reptile house. Don’t miss the daily wildlife feeding and presentations across the park.

Rainforestation is more than just animals – you can turn your wildlife adventure into a full day out with the “Big Three” package. You’ll board a restored WWII amphibious Army Duck for a curious and educational ride into the dense tropical rainforest where you’ll splash into a lake to spot even more wildlife.

Then you’ll dive into indigenous culture with a local Pamagirri guide, who will demonstrate and teach you how to throw a boomerang, followed by spear throwing and a didgeridoo performance. This award-winning experience journeys through the Dreamtime and will teach you local customs and traditions.

With all of these options and more at your disposal, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to come face-to-face with Australia’s iconic wildlife when you make the trip to Port Douglas!