Where to spot Australian animals in the wild

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

For many visiting Australia, discovering unique animals such as the kangaroo, koala, wallaby, or wombat is just as important as exploring the dreamy white sand beaches and sprawling landscapes. While the country is littered with plenty of ecological wildlife sanctuaries to visit, they can’t beat spotting fauna free and wild in their natural habitat. Whether you’re keen to meet kangaroos or daring enough to venture into the territory of crocodiles, here are five places to spot Australian animals in the wild.

Lucky Bay, Western Australia

Lucky Bay is in Cape Le Grand National Park close by to Esperance on Western Australia’s South Coast. The idyllic stretch of caster-sugar white sand often hits the top spot of Australia’s best beaches lists. It’s also claimed to be the ‘most Australian’ beach in the country.

The reason why? It’s not just visitors that can’t resist lazing on the sparkling white sand. Kangaroos are a fan of Lucky Bay too, and you’ll often find several snoozing under the sun’s hot rays.

After lounging on the beach and frolicking in the turquoise waters, consider hiking one of the local coastal trails. There you can admire sweeping views of the Recherche Archipelago and can keep an eye out for migrating whales that cruise the waters below. For the best chance of spotting these gentle beasts, visit between July and October.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Great Ocean Road is famous for its dramatic coastal views, including the world-famous Twelve Apostles which stand looming between crashing waves. Many visitors decide to embark on a road trip, travelling the 243-kilometre stretch by car and staying overnight in the quaint seaside towns dotted along the route.

However, the Great Ocean Road is also renowned for its richness of wildlife. The Victoria region contains the country’s highest population of koalas and these cuddly creatures are found all over the Great Ocean Road course.

For almost guaranteed sightings, head to the 12-kilometre route on Otway Lighthouse Road. There, the sleepy critters can be seen snoozing calmly between the branches of towering eucalyptus trees.

Alternatively, take a short hike down the mossy banks of Kennett River and gaze up into the gum trees to seek out those furry faces.

It’s not all about the koalas either. On your Great Ocean Road trip expect to see kangaroos and wallabies hopping around and the colourful feathers of chatty King Parrots.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

If you’re clued up on Australian animals, then it’s likely you know of the quokka, native to Rottnest Island in Western Australia. Small, furry, and featuring a distinctive cheeky ‘smile’, the quokka is claimed to be the ‘happiest animal in the world’. The quokka is only found in Western Australia, and Rottnest Island is home to the largest population in Australia of around 10,000 – 12,000.

Featuring azure waters, rugged white beaches, and sublime snorkelling conditions, the best way to explore Rottnest Island is by renting a bicycle for the day. That way you can stop off at the various bays and beaches, all while keeping an eye out for quokkas lingering in the flora.

As there are no natural predators to the quokka, these adorable critters are unafraid of humans. If you’re lucky one may even clamber onto your lap so you can snap that famous quokka selfie.

The island is also home to Osprey nests known to be over 70 years old. These nests can be found stacked as a mess of branches at the quaint cove of Fish Hook Bay which is also a top spot for snorkelling.

Daintree Rainforest, Queensland

If you only visit one place to discover wildlife in Australia, let it be the Daintree Rainforest in Northern Queensland. The oldest tropical rainforest in the world is home to the greatest concentration of wildlife that’s rare or threatened with extinction than anywhere on the globe.

Most people visit the Daintree to bravely catch a glimpse of the terrifying beast that is the estuarine crocodile. Dangerous to both locals and visitors, to safely spot a crocodile you’ll need to embark on one of the many guide-led crocodile cruises. From there you’ll slowly drift through the eerie surroundings of the rainforest and study the murky grey waters for one of the giant predators.

Away from the unnerving depths of the waters, keep an eye out for the feral pigs that roam through the rainforest with brute strength and force, or the light-footed Southern Cassowary. This creature is a large flightless bird with a gleaming coat and a bright blue face and neck – so they’re quite easy to spot!

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

One of the most visited areas in Tasmania, Australia’s Southern island off the coast of Melbourne, Cradle Mountain is a nature-lovers haven.

Home to the world-famous overland track, Cradle Mountain is home to ancient rainforests, alpine heaths, glacial lakes, and cascading waterfalls.

Such landscapes welcome plenty of Australian wildlife including quolls, platypus, and echidnas. Various bird species also soar over the glimmering lakes and between the dramatic mountain peaks. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the elusive Tasmanian devil that is sometimes seen – and heard - shrieking between the pines.

What you’re most likely to see, however, is the huge, fluffy, and kind-faced wombat. These endearing creatures aren’t shy, and they’re often found wandering over the wooden tracks that guide the trails.

Don’t approach wombats too closely though. While they may look gentle, wombats can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

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