This is a guest post from the lovely Lillian from Travel Armadillo. I was lucky enough to see kangaroos, snakes, penguins and dingos in their natural habitat during the 2 years I spent in Australia and Lillian’s written us an awesome guest post on the best places to spot Australia’s wildlife in the wild for your next trip down under. Enjoy!
Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world for thousands of years has meant that its wildlife has evolved to be unique and distinct from every other living thing in the world.
Australia has so many weird and wonderful animals, and while zoos and reserves are all well and good, if you’re a keen nature lover and up for a bit of adventure, then maybe you would like to see these animals in their natural habitat. There is something a bit more special about seeing them in the wild.
I couldn’t possibly name all of them, so here are some of the more famous animals (and a few obscure ones for good measure) the land down under has to offer, and where you can see them in the wild.
Australian Wildlife in the Wild
You can find kangaroos just about anywhere in Australia. There are almost 50 types of kangaroo, but they can generally be divided into two main types: red kangaroos and grey kangaroos.
You will probably need a car to see kangaroos in the wild. If you drive around rural areas at dusk or dawn you will most likely see them grazing and hopping about in fields or paddocks.
Like kangaroos, you can find wallabies in many parts of Australia. There are many different types of wallabies, some of which, like the yellow-footed rock wallaby, are greatly endangered.
Agile-wallabies are the most common and can be found around many parts of Northern Territory. Central Australia is also a great place to see Rock-wallabies, especially in and around places like the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs, and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
Wombats are nocturnal, live in burrows and are closely related to the Koala. They are small, round and muscular, and are sometimes referred to as “the bulldozers of the bush.”
The bare-nosed wombat, is the most common wombat in Australia and you can find them in coastal areas, grasslands or forest areas in New South Wales, eastern Victoria, north-east Tasmania and Flinders Island (a small island just north of Tasmania). One place you definitely won’t find wombats is the desert as they are herbivores.
Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales is another great place to see wombats roaming freely. But, unfortunately there is no guaranteed way to see them in the wild.
One of the best places to see koalas in their natural habitat is along the Great Ocean Road, especially between Lorne and Apollo bay.
Turn down towards Kennett River and stop at the Koala Cove Café. Across from the café you will see a little walkway, lined with eucalyptus trees. Walk along this walkway and keep looking up; you should see lots of sleepy koalas, you might even catch one snaking on a eucalyptus leaves!
Further along the Great Ocean Road you may come across more koala spotting opportunities. Watch out for people stopping on the side of the road and pointing a camera into a eucalyptus tree, more than likely they’ve spotted a koala!
Crocodiles can be found all across northern Australia. All across the wetlands of Northern Territory, in places like Kakadu and Mary River wetlands, are the best for croc spotting. The best time of year to go is during the dry season as there is less water around and therefore a bigger concentration of crocs in one area.
One sure way to see wild crocs is to go on a Jumping Crocs Tour on the Adelaide River, about hour outside Darwin. It’s a great way to get up close to wild crocodiles and see their speed and agility in the water.
Along with the kangaroo, the emu features on the Australia coat of arms and is an iconic Australian animal. Emus inhabit most of Australia, so it’s probably easier to tell you where you won’t find them. You definitely won’t find wild emus in Tasmania, open sandy deserts or rainforests.
Again, driving around rural areas will give you the best chance of seeing them. Outback New South Wales and outback southern-Queensland are the best places to see them roaming about, usually in grain fields.
Tasmanian devils are not the easiest of animals to spot in the wild. These little nocturnal carnivores are becoming increasingly rare due to various diseases, particularly the facial tumour disease.
Obviously, as their name suggests, the only place in Australia you can see Tasmanian Devils in the wild is Tasmania, though they are thought to have inhabited parts of mainland Australia too, until the arrival of dingos.
You can find Tasmanian Devils in dry woodland and coastal scrubland areas all across Tasmania. You can also apply to volunteer to help with the preservation of Tasmanian Devils, if you’re really keen on seeing them in the wild.
Dingos can be found on Fraser Island, in central Australia and the Kimberley region in Western Australia, though they’re not just limited to these areas. Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, has some of the most “purest” dingos in eastern Australia and is probably the best place to see a dingo in the wild, though, sadly, numbers are starting to decline.
Some Obscure Australian Animals
Cassowaries are large black birds, with bright cobalt blue heads and larges crests that protrude from their heads, almost like a helmet. They are very rare and only inhabit northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea.
The best places to see them are along roads near Mission Beach, Cape Tribulation and Kuranda, around dusk or dawn. You may be disappointed as these beautiful birds as they are extremely shy and live deep in rainforests.
When you think of Australian wildlife penguins probably won’t be the first thing you think of, but 20 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD in St Kilda, you can find a colony of little penguins.
You can spot them at the end of St Kilda Pier just after sunset returning to their nests after a hard days fishing. You can see them all through the year, but expect big crowds during summer months.
Camels are another unusual animal that you may not think of when you think of Australia, but they are plentiful down under. Camels were imported into Australia in the 19th century for transport purposes. Today, many camels still roam the Australian deserts and have actually become pests, destroying important water sources.
The best place to catch a glimpse of a wild camel is in central Australia; the areas surrounding Alice Springs; along the Stuart highway and Uluru and Kata-Tjuta National Park.
Lilian is a travel blogger who has travelled slowly around Australia for 16 months. While she has bid Oz farewell, her next destination is Canada. You can read all about her Australian adventures and soon-to-be Canadian adventures, as well as some as other awesome destinations, over at Travel Armadillo