Animals,  Free to do,  Nature play

Daisy Hill Koala Centre & Forest

One of my favourite things about having a little one is being able to enjoy some of my childhood memories again. We recently visited Daisy Hill State Forest and Koala Centre, which was where I spent many a weekend and school holiday hanging out with friends and family. In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last year, the State Government invested a chunk of money in upgrading the facilities and I hadn’t been in ages so was keen to check out the changes they had made and introduce Master A to this wonderful place.

We started our visit at the Koala Centre, which features a large outdoor koala enclosure and heaps of interactive displays. With free access, this place is a gem for all ages to learn about koalas and their conservation. There were 5 koalas in the enclosures when we visited, with a few of them awake and moving around, munching on their breakfast. They really are beautiful creatures and it is so amazing to get up this close to them.

We wandered around the exhibits, with interactive stations teaching visitors about things like the koala life cycle, signs and symptoms of sick or injured koalas, and how you can contribute to the conservation of koalas. For the kids, there are heaps of activity doors and buttons to touch, a koala hospital where you can tend to toy koalas, and a Woodland Theatre showing a couple of different short films.

Everything is easily accessible with a pram or wheelchair, except for the Treetops Tower which is via stairs up about 4 or 5 levels allowing you to look out through the forest canopy. While kids should be supervised, the centre is fully enclosed to prevent animals coming in or out, and kids are encouraged to get involved with the exhibits – no need for keeping quiet!

Another fun activity that is offered for all ages is the option to participate in a daily Wildlife Officer Talk. On at 11am and 2pm each day, a park officer provides information about koalas and their conservation and allows visitors to ask all the questions they like. You do need to book in for this, which can be done online here . You could always try on the day if outside of school holidays for a last minute spot too.

After we finished at the centre, we went for a wander through the forest. The Daisy Hill State Forest comprises 435 hectares of open eucalypt forest. There are heaps of animals there, and we saw a wallaby with a joey in its pouch during our short stroll through the main area of the park. There is a really great pathway that works its way through the day-use area, which includes picnic tables, toilets and barbeques (all of which are wheelchair accessible!). There are a few Nature Play options to get the kids involved in the environment around them, and there are interpretive signs on all the walking trails providing information about the flora and fauna around.

There is another great thing about the forest that mostly only the locals know about. Rather than taking the main bushwalking track, there is a smaller and shorter track that leads out of the forest and over to Dennis Lake (head towards the Paperbark Trail, but don’t go down it. Just to the left of the trail entry is another trail that is signposted as Lawnton Street entrance, head that way!). As a child I always loved heading out on this track because it was super short (yes, not a big fan of bushwalks from an early age!) and it meant we got to feed the ducks! There is a big lake with ducks on it and it’s a great spot to stop for a moment and let the kids see what they can spot in the lake from the jetty.

We had such a great morning enjoying the outdoors and spotting all the animals. Master A was fascinated by the koalas and loved riding over the bumps in his stroller on our little bushwalk. Definitely a family favourite and we’ll be back another time for a picnic!

Need to know:

Address: 253 Daisy Hill Road, Daisy Hill QLD

Daisy Hill Koala Centre opening times: 9am–4pm daily (except Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday).

Daisy Hill Regional Park opening times: 7am–6.30pm, 15 October–14 March (summer). 7am–5.30pm, 15 March–14 October (winter).