The crocodiles, the snakes, the short-beaked echidnas; Australia is full of incredible animals that strike fear into the hearts of all but the bravest men and women. Even as they scare us though, there's something incredibly fascinating about these amazing creatures. The way they move is otherworldly, and despite whatever anyone might think, we really have no idea what the predators at the top of the food chain think of us, or of anything for that matter.

Thanks to a sub-tropical climate that never gets too hot or too cold, the Gold Coast is the perfect location to get up close and personal with some of Australia's most menacing beasts all year round. No, not in the nightclubs, at some of the dozens of zoos, animal sanctuaries and reserves. So rent a car on the Gold Coast and head on out into the bush!

David Fleay Wildlife Park

Are you bold enough to step into the depths of the dingo's den? If that's not enough to get your heart racing, there are also crocodiles and reptiles at this beautiful park that's only 15 minutes from Gold Coast airport by car. Founded by famed Australian naturalist David Fleay in 1951, this is so much more than a regular zoo. Here, the animals are so close that you can almost touch them, and if you hang around for the Creature Feature Encounter in the afternoon, you'll be able to! And who doesn't want to cuddle a koala? 

The park also has a fantastic collection of animals that are most active at night. So you can explore their world, they are located in a special nocturnal house which is the only zoo in the world where you can see rare Australian animals like the Julia Creek dunnart (not scary, very cute). There are also daily presentations by the park rangers, including the not-to-be missed feeding of the crocodiles every day at lunchtime. 

Treetop Challenge Currumbin 

While not strictly a wildlife park, the Treetop Challenge gets a place in our list because of the sheer craziness of its main attraction. Zip-lining through the trees is exhilarating enough under normal circumstances, but here it's all happening above the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. From the crazy Croc Shoc that takes you soaring over the crocodile enclosure to the other ten lines that are just as breathtaking, the Treetop Challenge is one of the best ways to experience the thrill of soaring around the bush like the local wildlife. 


Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

After you've finished sharing the treetops with the koalas, the Wildlife Sanctuary beneath is one of the Gold Coast's premiere attractions. With crocs, dingos and hairy-nosed wombats around every corner, Currumbin is an incredible experience. If you thought some of the other animals were intimidating, just you wait until you meet Australia's most notorious man-eater; the short-beaked echidna.

This fearsome brute is unique to Australia and should never be approached unless you are thoroughly prepared to have your heart forcibly taken away from you. We will not be responsible for injuries sustained as a result of an overload of cuteness. And if you think maybe we're underplaying how adorable they are, wait until you hear what a baby echidna is called. A puggle! That's actually what they're called. The horror. 

If after that warning you're still brave enough to venture into the lair of the puggle, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is only a short drive from the Gold Coast CBD. 

3 month old puggle loves to snuggle 🙂

A photo posted by Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (@currumbinsanctuary) on

Nov 2, 2014 at 9:19pm PST