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Generic kangaroo
Photograph: Pixabay

The best places to see and cuddle animals in Melbourne

Wondering where to see native animals near Melbourne? We’ve got you covered

By Brooke Munday
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If anyone in their right mind can say that they don’t love cuddling and fawning over adorable animals, then move right along, because this list is for sane people. From farm to forest and sea, these are some of the best places to get up close with native wildlife in Victoria.

Looking for more fun things to do in Melbourne? We've found the best day trips from Melbourne and the best tours around town to try. 

RECOMMENDED: The best activities for kids in Melbourne.

Wildlife encounters in and around Melbourne

1. SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Museums Melbourne

0 minutes from the CBD

If you’re looking for something a little more aquatic in your animal adventures, why not try the Melbourne Aquarium? With underwater tunnels for you to surround yourself with sea life and discovery rock pools that let you experience these curious creatures with your own hands, there's loads to keep you occupied. Visit the crocodile lair to get as close to a croc as you’d ever want to be, or check out the penguin playground to see some of the best-dressed birds in the ocean.

Melbourne Zoo
Photograph: Paul Philipson

2. Melbourne Zoo

Museums Parkville

15 minutes from the CBD

Naturally, we had to include the Melbourne Zoo on our list of places to see wildlife. From baby elephants to tigers, the Melbourne Zoo is undoubtedly one of the best places to see an array of native and exotic animals. Take a wander through the butterfly enclosure and let them decorate your hair, or sit and listen to the keepers give talks on the animals while they feed and play.

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Edgar's Mission
Photograph: Graham Denholm

3. Collingwood Children's Farm

Kids Abbotsford

17 minutes from the CBD

In a spot that’s only a short walk from the bustle of Melbourne’s busiest streets is the petting paradise that is the Collingwood Children's Farm. Bring a picnic basket and set yourself up on the sprawling lawns or help look after the cows by attending one of the day’s milking sessions. And if you make a visit and decide you love it here, why not try signing up for the farm’s volunteer program?

Note: Collingwood Children's Farm is currently closed, but it plans to reopen soon.

4. Penguins in St Kilda

Things to do

20 minutes from the CBD

We all know about Philip Island’s nightly penguin parades, but did you know you can see these dapper little birds in St Kilda, too? Now home to 1,400 penguins, St Kilda’s sandy beaches are the perfect spot to see some wildlife without having to travel too far from Melbourne’s CBD. But be sure not to touch them, feed them, or shine any lights in their eyes! We want to protect our little tuxedoed friends.

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5. Myuna Farm

Attractions Farms Doveton

35 minutes from the CBD

This public community farm is just a short drive from the CBD and offers guests the opportunity to see and feed a whole bunch of animals, from deer to alpacas, buffalo, camels and sheep. It’s wheelchair accessible, with the opportunity for people with disabilities to ride animals and explore community gardens. 

at Bundoora Park Melbourne
Photograph: Phillip Mallis

6. Bundoora Park Farm

Things to do Bundoora

40 minutes from the CBD

If you come down to Bundoora Park Farm you can help feed the animals at one of the daily feeding sessions and give the plethora of animals a little pat. The farm’s activities include handling guinea pigs and rabbits, seeing a live milking demonstration, and a chicken round up.

NB: Bundoora Park Farm is currently closed, but it intends to reopen soon.

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Photograph: Greg Henderson

7. Werribee Open Range Zoo

Things to do Werribee South

45 minutes from the CBD

Take a safari ride past giraffes and antelope, or wander the zoo grounds and peer into the enclosures for some of the more dangerous animals at Werribee Open Range Zoo. This is the closest you’ll get to the world’s most iconic grassland creatures without jumping on a plane and flying to another country. With 200 hectares of land to hold these animals, they’ve always got somewhere to roam.

Dingo Discovery Sanctuary
Photograph: Supplied

8. Dingo Discovery Sanctuary, Research and Education Centre

Attractions Wildlife centres Melbourne

50 minutes from the CBD

Set to the backdrop of 16 hectares of state forest, the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre is the perfect spot to meet some of Australia’s most adorable native fuzz balls. But be sure to book in advance because tours are by appointment only.

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9. Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park

Attractions Wildlife centres Pearcedale

1 hour from the CBD

Drop by the Moonlight Sanctuary to see some of Australia’s native and endangered species, from the sanctuary’s very own dingo pack to curious pythons. You'll be able to meet kangaroos, wombats and colourful birds and even pat a koala. The gardens are great for exploring, too, as you can get to know some of the aromas of their native bush tucker plants. 

Generic koala
Photograph: Creative Commons

10. Jirralingha

1.15 hours from the CBD

Jirrahlinga is a sanctuary for Australian native wildlife as well as a zoo, so there is a hospital section for treating injured animals. At Jirrahlinga you can see lots of Australian native fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, birds, reptiles, dingoes, echidnas and more. Keepers are knowledgeable and friendly, and if you're lucky they'll let you pat a koala, hold a snake or have an up-close encounter with a lizard. Look out for the bird near the office that does a perfect imitation of the office phone ringing, followed by, "Hello, Jirrahlinga?". 

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11. Maru Koala and Animal Park

Attractions Wildlife centres

1.15 hours from the CBD

If you’re looking for a spot with more than just animals then Maru is a good place to start. With a mini-golf course and bistro, there’s plenty to do between patting koalas and spending time with kangaroos. Check out the park’s sheep shearing demonstration or sit back and watch one of the reptile talks, then grab some lunch and keep exploring.

Eagle at Spirits of the Sky at Healesville Sanctuary
Photograph: Supplied

12. Healesville Sanctuary

Attractions Zoos Badger Creek

1.25 hours from the CBD

Healesville Sanctuary is home to dozens of native Australian animals, with demonstrations and information sessions to teach guests all about our wildlife. Sit down and watch some of our most dangerous birds of prey show off their skills in the Spirits of the Sky show, or check out Healesville's latest attraction, ‘Kangaroo Country’ with red kangaroos, Kangaroo Island kangaroos, and tree kangaroos.

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Phillip Island penguins underground
Photography: Bernard Yeung

13. Phillip Island Penguin Parade

Things to do Wimbledon Heights

1.75 hours from the CBD

This should be a bucket list wildlife experience for anyone living in Victoria, because what is more adorable than watching hundreds of tiny penguins waddling their way up the beach and going about their tiny penguin business? This is a great spot to see some of Australia’s cutest birds up close without endangering them, too. But be sure not to take any pictures with flash! We want to keep these little guys’ eyes safe and sighted for all their days to come.

14. Phillip Island Seal Watching Cruise

2 hours from the CBD

See one of Australia’s largest colonies of fur seals sunbaking on the shores of Seal Rocks at Phillip Island or catch a glimpse of some of the other aquatic life on this boat tour. Watch seal pups while they learn to swim and adults lazing about the beach.

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15. Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Attractions Farms

1.75 hours from the CBD

Just a stone’s throw from the coast of Phillip Island, set on grassy fields and bordered by clear, blue beaches, is Churchill Island Heritage Farm. The entire island is only 57 hectares and was among the first Victorian agricultural endeavours by European settlers. With fields of hairy coos ( that is, apparently, what Scottish cattle are called) and plenty of places to take a quiet walk, this is a good spot to come and relax.

Looking for koalas?

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