Canberra is home to an exciting array of animal encounters the whole family can enjoy.

Get hands on at the zoo

Visit Australia's only combined zoo and aquarium less than 10 minutes from the centre of Canberra for a fun-filled day. With a wide variety of both native and exotic animals, as well as the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia, there is something for everyone at the National Zoo & Aquarium.

People patting a cheetah at the National Zoo and Aquarium
Meet a cheetah at the National Zoo & Aquarium

Listen to one of the interactive keeper talks or be brave and take part in an animal encounter to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures, like cheetahs, giraffe, sun bears, white lions, otters, tigers and red panda. Your family might also like to go on one of the interactive tours, including the two-hour ZooVenture Tour, the Family Tour especially for younger children and their parents, or the amazing all-day Walk on the Wild Side Tour.

Take your zoo tour to the next level with an overnight stay at Jamala Wildlife Lodge where you can bathe beside a bear and eat with a lion (yes, there's a glass wall separting you!) or feed a giraffe from your own balcony.

Discover dragons in the gardens

The Australian National Botanic Gardens is about more than just plants. A wide range of animals are attracted to the Gardens’ various habitats and they in turn help to keep the ecosystem of the gardens healthy. Expect to see, or hear, a wonderful range of birds, water dragons, possums, wallabies, kangaroos and even echidnas as you make your way around the garden’s collection of 78,000 plants growing on site.

Explore Gold Creek Village

The family will love a visit to Gold Creek Village. You can wander through galleries, gift shops and specialty stores before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the cafes. The village is home to the National Dinosaur Museum, which has loads of robotic dinosaurs, dozens of life-like models and skeletons plus hundreds of fossils and minerals on display.

Children get their photo taken outside the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra.
Hang out with the giants at the National Dinosaur Museum in Gold Creek Village

Experience a guided tour, Dinosaur Hunt challenge, interactive hands-on specimens and enjoy the school holiday activities. Nearby are the Canberra Reptile Zoo and the Canberra Walk in Aviary, home to about 550 free-flying birds from 58 different species from Australia and around the world.

Try horse riding

You can also ride horses on a fully-operational 4500-acre grazing property with Burnelee Excursions on Horseback. Burnelee Excursions on Horseback cater for anyone over the age of six years, from beginners to experts. Each ride on the grazing property is different and allows for riders regardless of experience level to enjoy the unique beauty of the local countryside.

A group at sunset riding with Burnelee Excursions on Horseback
Saddle up for an adventure in the Australian countryside with Burnelee Excursions on Horseback

Meet some local wildlife

There’s always an opportunity to see wildlife while bushwalking in the Sanctuary wetlands at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Located at the foothills of the Australian Alps between the Tidbinbilla and Gibraltar Ranges, Tidbinbilla is an easy 40-minutes drive from Canberra’s city centre and offers a wide variety of outstanding nature experiences for the whole family to enjoy. 

With 22 marked walking trails, ranging from an easy 15 minute stroll to an all day bushwalk, there is something to suit everyone. Linger at the lookouts, search for platypus from the boardwalks, observe the resident and migratory bird life, and explore granite outcrops. The 20-minute Koala Path walk is perfect for families and don’t forget to look out for koalas as you take a short stroll through the wet eucalypt forest, home to wombats, wallabies, echidnas and many species of birds and reptiles.

Learn about breeding and monitoring programs 

Discover the leading role Tidbinbilla plays in breeding the critically endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and the Northern Corroboree Frog, and personally contribute to this important research as you assist wildlife officers with the wildlife breeding and animal monitoring programs. After a rewarding day contributing to conservation, return to camp at Nil Desperandum, a heritage homestead hidden away in a tranquil valley, and reflect on the days’ experiences by a camp fire, under a stunning canopy of stars.

A Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
A Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

At Mulligans Flat sanctuary you can join a Twilight Tour to learn about its wildlife conservation role. Locally extinct animals like the Eastern Bettong and Eastern Quoll have been reintroduced to this predator proof fenced area after being absent from mainland Australia for more than 100 years.

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