From rescue dogs to cows and pigs – switch up your weekend plans with a visit to an Australian animal sanctuary.

We love animals. We love exploring beautiful spots around the country and meeting new and inspiring people. So, the ultimate trip for us is one that discovers animal sanctuaries across Australia.

If you’re stuck for a weekend idea, want to help out more in your community, or want to make a difference to the life of less fortunate animals, check out our guide to the top five animal sanctuaries around Australia that are a must-visit in 2021. Extra karmic boost guaranteed!

Must Visit Animal Sanctuary in New South Wales:

Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary, Wollombi

Now this is the epitome of an animal sanctuary. The team behind Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary are driven by their simple philosophy that all animals should be treated with compassion and respect.

Each of their 100 animals – ranging from cows, sheep, chickens to turkeys – are named based on their distinctive personalities! Our farm favourites include little lamb Eve who is possibly the cutest thing you’ve ever seen; forever hungry and adorable Bubbles the pig; Seamus the most endearing blind lamb (who of course is Bubble’s best friend); and last but not least, Moby the cheekiest and most entitled goat you’ll ever meet!

Debbie, Jamie and their team have created an absolute haven for so many farming animals, which have all been rescued from animal cruelty, abuse and abandonment. It is hard to imagine the horrific stories and places that the animals have previously endured. But, thankfully, the animals are now thriving and living a happy and peaceful life – a fabulous and awe inspiring change!

Where Pigs Fly is a private property, however they run open days and sanctuary tours every one to two months to create awareness, help educate and raise money for their non-profit charity. The open days include walking tours, unlimited patting, hugs and pictures with the animals, as well as the opportunity to learn about each of the residents and how you can help. If you can’t make it along, feel free to check out their website to get the latest on all of the animals and find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary | 194 Murrays Run Rd, Laguna, NSW 2325

Must Visit Animal Sanctuary in Australian Capital Territory:

Little Oak Sanctuary, Canberra

Little Oak Sanctuary is a beautiful haven situated over 250 acres of land under half an hour from Canberra. They’re a not for profit and registered charity that offers refuge for animals in need. They are currently working with local government and animal protection groups to effect changes in policy that better protect animals.

Little Oak Sanctuary started in 2010 when the owners adopted two piglets named Heavenly Hiranni Tiger and Little Timmy Piglet. Unfortunately, Little Timmy Piglet became severely ill and lost his life in early 2013. His owners planted an oak tree over his grave, and opened the sanctuary in honour of their fallen soldier.  Since opening, they have been actively working to educate the public about the horrible issues faced by animals in Australia. Little Oak Sanctuary also hosts open days and events to help raise awareness and funds to continue their compassionate work.

You can also sponsor animals like Baartholomew Button, Ron Burgundy, James Brown and Lucky Lago for $50! For more information check out their website.

Must Visit Animal Sanctuary in Victoria:

Edgar’s Mission Animal Sanctuary, Lancefield

Edgar’s Mission’s statement is ” If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?”

Located on 153 beautiful acres near Lancefield, approximately 60-kilometres north of Melbourne, you’ll find a sanctuary filled with over 450 rescued animals – from pigs and horses, to cows, chickens and goats. The sanctuary was stated by Pam Ahern and named after her first rescued pig, Edgar, who unfortunately died in 2010. Pam was driven to make a difference for animals across the nation as an estimated 500 million ‘food’ or ‘production’ animals in Australia are excluded from the protections of animal welfare legislation. Many of Edgar’s Mission’s rescued animals come from miserable conditions where they are unable to move, subjected to cruelty, live without sunshine, freedom and are isolated.

The sanctuary not only provides a peaceful life for her animals, but also a successful platform to educate Australians about the issues these animals face alone. With a number of opportunities to volunteer, donate, sponsor or adopt animals, the sanctuary offers an interactive and engaging way for Aussies to make a difference. And it helps that all of the animals are excessively cute! With vegan endorsing superstars like Elvis Pigsley, Lucky Stars, Levi the wise old ram, Fifi the lamb, Mixie the calf, Snoopy the Shetland and Flip, Flop + Flap- the worlds cutest yellow ducks – it won’t take you long to want to help out and raise awareness.

Edgar’s Mission Animal Sanctuary | 81 Bridies Ln, Lancefield, VIC 3435

Must Visit Animal Sanctuary in Western Australia:

Greener Pastures Sanctuary, Waroona

Finally, 110-kilometres from Perth, in Western Australia’s Peel region is Greener Pastures Sanctuary in Waroona – a pristine animal haven on 100 acres. A must-visit Australian animal sanctuary, the oasis is home to an array of farm animals including horses, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and pigs.

Their mission is to protect all animals, especially those that have endured cruelty on factory farms. From debeaking, castration, tail docking to dehorning and mulesing – all of which are extremely painful procedures done without anesthetic or pain relief, along with severe confinement denying them of their most basic instinctual needs. They want to raise awareness that farm animals are the most abused animals on the planet.

Like many of the other animal sanctuaries, they are non-for profit and rely heavily on donations and volunteer work. To welcome you, Greener Pastures offer a variety of ways to get involved, from fun filled open days, to animal sponsorship or adoption, trivia, movie nights and tours. However, best of all, animal yoga! Yep, what could be better than doing yoga in the fresh outdoors with a pig or goat coming up to say hi?  Stay up to date on all the ways you can contribute and participate in their rewarding events. If you do have the chance to visit, be sure to check out a few of the crowd favourites like Petrie the pig; Mowgli Parker the black and white cow; Judy, Dragon and Lola the loveable sheep; and last but not least the stunning fox, Fergie.

Greener Pastures Sanctuary | 33 Wealand Rd, Waroona, WA 6215

Must Visit Animal Sanctuary in Queensland:

Farm Animal Rescue, Dayboro

Like the previous sanctuaries, Farm Animal Rescue is a place of refuge for animals that have been freed from abusive situations and factory farms, each of which receives the best of lifetime care. You’ll find the beautiful oasis amongst the Pine Rivers district, 45 minutes north of Brisbane’s CBD.  The sanctuary is open to visitors on a regular basis, so that people can meet their furry residents. Each visitor also has the opportunity to rub a pigs belly, pat a sheep, tumble around with a goat and feed a rooster. During these animal contact sessions, visitors will be told of what the animals endured before they were rescued, and what life is really like for the millions of others on factory farms that they cannot save.

The team behind Farm Animal Rescue ensure there are plenty of opportunities for people to interact with the animals or volunteer their time. From walking safari tours, to cuddle sessions, animal sponsorship and trivia fundraisers, there are endless chances to give a helping hand. Be sure to check out their website for open days, and the chance to meet their famous residents Murray, Mary and Ferdinand – Queensland’s most popular cows!

Farm Animal Rescue | 1713 Dayboro Rd, Dayboro, QLD 4521

Ready to explore the outdoors more? Why not check into one of Australia’s 10 best luxury farm stays for the night? And, whilst you’re out exploring, frolic your way through the 12 best lavender farms to visit around Australia.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Feature image: Photographed by Image via Shutterstock.
This article was first published on January 27 2019. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on May 18 2021.