Australian animals are arguably one of the biggest attractions that draw nearly 9 million visitors to Australia every year.
From Kangaroos and wallabies to Koalas and wombats to over 800 species of birds, international visitors are keen to see them all. What’s more rewarding than seeing animals in the wild?
The truth is that seeing native animals in their natural habitat isn’t easy. Wildlife behaviour is unpredictable and something you cannot take for granted. So before you plan your outdoor adventure and end up frustrated and disappointed because you haven’t seen any kangaroos or koalas, these tips will help you plan your wildlife adventures in Australia.
The best time for spotting Australian animals in the wild
While animals tend to be more active at dusk and dawn – crossing roads in the Outback is no. 1 cause of car accidents – many factors influence their movements, like rain and sun. By hot temperatures, animals hide in cooler places, whereas by rain, they are likely to come out and seek fresh water to drink. Also, humans scare them away, so the more crowded the place, the worse scenario for spotting animals in the wild.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about the best ways to see native Australian animals while travelling around Australia. These are some good ways to get up close to native animals in Oz. If you are a first-time traveller, I would recommend visiting an Australian wildlife sanctuary first.
It’s the best way to see all Australian animals in natural enclosures that recreate their natural habitat. Then you are ready to set off on your outdoor adventures to see them in the wild.
Top places for encounters with native Australian animals
Where can you see native Australian animals in the wild? This is a question I often get from Rocky Travel readers and first-time travellers. That’s why today I am telling you about my favourite places in Oz, where I got up close to animals and which I treasure.
Here are 8 of the top places where you can see native Australian animals in the wild.
Best Places for seeing kangaroos, wombats and more Australian marsupials
- Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia
Flinders Ranges rank high on my list of favourite places where to see Australian marsupials. Chances are you will spot all three types of Australian Kangaroos: the Red kangaroo, the western grey Kangaroo and the Euro – very rare Kangaroo – as well as the yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, which is unique to this area and very much an endangered species.
Besides these famous Australian marsupials, there are nearly 100 species of different birds. I saw emus, kookaburra, coloured Australian ring-necked parrots, pink and grey galas, many birds of prey like eagles and more.
- Wilson Promontory in Victoria
In a bit longer than 2 hours drive south of Melbourne lies the Prom, a top destination for hiking and camping and wildlife in the beautiful national park skirting the coastline. The Wilson Promontory wildlife is abundant. Here you can see wombats in the wild. You can see heaps of them roaming undisturbed. You will also see emus, kangaroos, and lots of birds. Rosellas flock to the visitor centre to greet visitors and steal their food. You can see Pelicans, swans and more birds in the water inlets too. And kangaroos are everywhere.
- Margaret River and Dunsborough in South Western Australia
This was the most unexpected place for me to see heaps of kangaroos grazing just outside my accommodation in the hills of Dunsborough. When I stayed a few nights just in Margaret River, I was greeted by a family of 3 kangaroos peeking into the kitchen. Furthermore, I also spotted the giant manta ray in Hamelin beach, 45 min drive south of Margaret River.
- See Kangaroos at Golf Courses
It’s trendy to see kangaroos populating golf courses in Australia. The first time I saw them was at Merimbula in NSW in 2004. I went for a walk from the town centre and ended down to the golf course to see dozens of kangaroos grazing and skipping across the golf course fields.
Over the years, I saw more kangaroos at golf courses in Mona Vale north of Sydney and Anglesea (photo) on Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road. This is a great top stop for seeing kangaroos if you plan a road trip to the GOR.
Best Places for seeing native Australian birds
- Cairns and Cape Tribulation
Among all my favourite places for spotting animals in the wild and a tricky one is North Tropical Queensland. This region boasts some unique and endangered animals in Australia. Spotting the native cassowary is regarded as winning the lottery. On my first two trips, I wasn’t so lucky with wildlife, and it’s only on my third visit in September 2015 that I stroke the top encounter with adults cassowaries crossing the road, just a few meters away from my car.
If you want to see the salty crocodile, a river cruise on the Daintree River is the way to go. When touring the Atherton Tableland and its wetland, then Malanda is where you can see the famous tree kangaroo, a small cute kangaroo that lives in the high eucalyptus. I spotted a few hiding highs on the branches. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to spot a platypus swimming in the river in Yanguburra.
Best Places for seeing Koalas in the wild
- Great Ocean Road
Known as one of Australia’s most scenic drives, the GOR and the Otway coast is a top place to see koalas in the wild. I will never forget when baby koalas crossed my road in 2011 to hide in the bush. While this is a great drive, there are some hazards: you must keep your eyes wide open and know exactly where you want to stop along your way.
If you miss a turn or a sign, it’s missed for good; there are no U-turns on the GOR. The best places I can recommend to see Koalas are two: the main road leading to the Lighthouse, you will see plenty of them perching on trees, and it’s a safe place to park and take photos. Another popular place is the Kennett River Koala Walk, soon after Apollo Bay, to the Otway National Park.
- The Kimberley Region
The Kimberley is the top region for native birds of Australia. Although you can only tour the region in the dry winter months, this is an Outback tropical region with lots of vegetation and over 400 native Australian birds. A paradise for birds lovers. Crossing the Gibb River Road is an adventure of a lifetime.
On my Kimberley Outback Adventure last year, I spotted many native birds. Spotting birds is not easy, though, and it requires a good dose of patience.
But thanks to a couple of our tour mates – who are birds lovers and bird watching enthusiasts – we saw many birds! We also spotted a dingo, kangaroos, rock wallabies, emus, water lizards and plenty of alligators (the freshwater crocodiles) in Windjana Gorge.
- Buchan Caves Reserve
Among all the caves I have visited in Australia, I think the Buchan Caves are the most spectacular. If you are touring Victoria, Gippsland is a great spot for native wildlife too. I saw many kangaroos and native birds.
And I was lucky to see the lyrebird, an amazing bird that mimics the call of other birds and not only that, it also mimic sounds such as a chainsaw, camera whirrs and clicks, and many car sounds. While we stopped to listen to his performance, he mimicked a few different birds and a few camera clicks. It was indeed such a fun and unique experience to see a lyrebird in the wild.
These are only 8 of the top places where to see native Australian animals in the wild. In the coming posts, I will tell you more about other special places in Australia where you can get up close to the amazing Australian wildlife in their natural habitat.
If you like this post, please share it on Pinterest!