You don’t have to send clients to the outback to get them a
full-frontal view of Australia’s famous wildlife. If clients are
headed only to Australia’s major cities, they’ve still got plenty
of opportunities to snuggle a koala or pet a wily kangaroo. Major
tour companies who offer commissions can deliver them right to the
At the Australia Zoo, about 45 minutes north of Brisbane,
clients can watch giant crocodiles snatch raw meat from the hand of
a trainer (who cannot possibly be getting paid enough for what he
does). The zoo is the project of television’s Crocodile Hunter
Steve Irwin. But in addition to the scary, scaly reptiles, he has
also stocked the park with sweet-faced cuddly kangaroos. The roos
dozens of them loll around in an open field, waiting for people to
pet them. They roll over and let visitors stroke their tummies, and
eagerly approach kids who can feed them pellets available in the
The koalas are also available for stroking. They sit in
shoulder-high trees in gazebos throughout the park, and trainers
even walk around with the cuddly marsupials, offering them for
petting and pictures.
And if your clients have never seen a wombat (looks like a
dog-sized guinea pig), or that beast of cartoon fame, the Tasmanian
devil, then the Australia Zoo’s the place.
In Canberra, kangaroos are a common site on the grassy shoulders
of the city’s highways, but they can be viewed in a more pastoral
setting at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a 13,600-acre preserve
less than 30 miles from the city center. A tragic fire in January
2003 decimated the preserve and killed all of the animals save a
lone koala who’s been renamed “Lucky.”
Today, the preserve is recovering nicely and the animals are
starting to return. Herds of kangaroos play just behind the visitor
center, letting humans get close enough for great photos.
Tidbinbilla is also a good destination for a hike, with lots of
trails, and on weekends rangers offer guided walks to show off some
of the park’s exotic creatures, such as the emu, rock wallaby and
If clients won’t be snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef then have
them hit the Sydney Aquarium instead. Sharks, turtles and giant
rays fly overhead in the aquarium’s Oceanarium, a transparent tube
that snakes through a giant fish tank, making it feel like you’re
walking underwater. A similar tube at the Great Barrier Reef
display lets visitors feel like they are walking through the dive
site’s caverns. Fish swarm above and below, until you emerge into a
giant aqua-theater, where you can sit and watch whale sharks and
rays dive and swirl in a floor-to-ceiling tank that takes up an
entire wall. They look like they will fly right overhead.
So who needs the outback. Let clients know that animals run wild
just about everywhere in Australia.
Gray Line, Day Tours and Australian Day Tours all offer excursions
that include the Australia Zoo.
The Croc Express full-day tour includes zoo entry and croc feeding
and snake-handling shows.
All tours pay 10 to 15 percent commission.
Go Bush Tours takes visitors to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, as
well as to the nearby Deep Space Communications Center and Stromlo
Observatory. Agents receive 10 to 15 percent commission.
The Sydney Aquarium is centrally located at the city’s Darling
Harbor, but Great Sights Day Tours offers excursions to the city’s
nearby mountains and several wildlife preserves. Agents receive 10