When it comes to jaw-droppingly beautiful nature and diverse wildlife, the wide brown country down under is the place to go! With its beaches, rainforests and outback, Australia is home to a wide range of animals. Many people mainly associate Australia with kangaroos and koalas but actually the country has more than 370 mammal species, 820 bird species and more than 4000 fish species. Although Australia is the smallest continent in the world, it is the 6th largest country and the landscape, climate and wildlife greatly diversify.
Dingoes: Fraser Island, approx. 4 hours from Brisbane
The large sand island, Fraser Island, is home to one of Australia’s most iconic animals; the dingo. The dingo is a predator and there has been some unfortunate dingo attacks on Fraser within the last couple of years. Therefore, the campsites and resorts on Fraser are fenced-in and it is a good idea to explore the island in the company of a professional guide. Sunset Safaris – and several other companies – do 2-day Fraser Island 4WD Tours from Brisbane with transportation, accommodation and meals included.
Turtles: Bundaberg, approx. 4 hours from Brisbane
At the beach close to Bundaberg’s Visitor’s Centre, Mon Repos, a large concentration of turtles come to nest every year. From November to January visitors can see the large loggerhead turtles crawl up on the beach to lay their eggs. From January to March the eggs are hatching and thousands of turtle babies leave their nest to find their way to the ocean. The admission fees for an entire evening at the turtle centre are very reasonable. A good tip is to book your tickets in advance. In that way, you will have a better chance at getting a spot on one of the first tours of the evening.
Platypuses: Eungella National Park, approx. 1 hour from Mackay
The platypus is a unique and unlikely animal that is not often seen in the wild. It is one of only two species of egg-laying mammals in the world and with its beak and strange looking tail, it looks like a weird (but awfully cute!) mix between a duck and a beaver. Platypuses live in rivers and are mainly seen during dusk and dawn and on cloudy days. A good tip is first of all to keep an eye out for bubbles in the surface. Because the shy platypuses are so rarely seen in the wild, many people choose to go platypus spotting with a professional guide who knows exactly where to look. Reeforest Adventure Tours offer guided daytrips to Broken River in Eungella National Park.
Fish & marine wildlife in general: Great Barrier Reef
Melbourne & the South Coast
Penguins: St Kilda Pier, Melbourne
Australia is a country with extravagant nature and a wide diversity of wildlife. What amazes a lot of tourists is that you do not even have to get out of the city to get up close with wild animals. Melbourne’s famous beach, St. Kilda, is home to one of the smallest penguin species in the world. After sunset you can meet the little penguin colony as they come up to rest between the rocks close to the jetty. This unique experience is perfectly free. Although, it is important to remember to observe the wild penguins from a distance and not take flash photographs. In that way, they will keep coming back for many more tourists to see in the future.
Koalas: Great Ocean Road, approx. 2,5 hours from Melbourne
Koalas are to be seen in many parts of Australia. A special thing about the koalas near The Great Ocean Road is that they are larger than the ones in the more northern parts of Australia. The reason to this is the temperate climate in the South, which has resulted in larger body size and longer fur. In fact the Great Ocean Road koalas can weigh up to 14 kilos. A particularly great place to spot these big, fluffy balls of fur is on the koala walk at Kennett River. On most days it is possible to see wild koalas resting in the top of the gum trees.
Whales: Flinders Bay, approx. 3,5 hours from Perth
Darwin & Northern Territory
Crocodiles: Adelaide River, Darwin
If you want to see wild crocodiles the size of the ones in the Crocodile Dundee movies, Northern Territory is the place to go! The crocodiles can be seen in many places; in the rivers, on the beach and sometimes even in a swimming pool in the city. As it goes with all wild animals it is all about being in the right place at the right time. Jumping Crocodile Cruises do wildlife cruises up the Adelaide River and are known for getting the massive crocodiles to jump up just next to the boat.
Fishing: Kakadu National Park, approx. 2 hours from Darwin
Asides from crocodiles, Northern Territory is known for its world class fishing. Kakadu National Park is gigantic and if you want to find the very best fishing spots right away, it is a good idea to go on a tour with a local guide. If you choose Yellow Water Fishing Cruise, the guide will take you up the Yellow Water Billabong. Chances are that you might even catch the famed fish all Aussies are talking about; the barramundi.