One of the great joys of Australia is the amazing wildlife indigenous to this beautiful country. Many of the animals native to Australia can’t be found anywhere else in the world, so a trip to Australia is a great opportunity to enjoy a unique wildlife experience. Whether you’ve always wanted to touch a cute, fluffy koala or you want to experience the magical beauty of seeing serene whale sharks in their natural environment, there are plenty of opportunities to get close to the natural world in Australia. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to see Australia’s most iconic animals, so you can experience the country’s natural beauty up close.
Small, fluffy, delightfully friendly; koalas are tiny bundles of joy who delight in YouTube videos and top many people’s favourite animals list. Australia is the only place in the world that these cuddly fellas are found in the wild, where they eat a diet almost exclusively made up of Eucalyptus trees in the bushland. One of the best places to see them is You Yangs Regional Park, Victoria, where the population has been studied for around 10 years. You can see whole families of koalas, many of whom are well known enough to have individual names. Take an Echidna Walkabout Nature Tour to get the most out of the experience.
Seeing kangaroos in the wild is a special experience, from their awkward inquisitiveness to their graceful bounding, it can be truly mesmerising. They live in the wild all over Australia, but the Great Ocean Road region in Victoria is the best place to spot ‘roos casually going about their business. Along the eastern section is the town of Anglesea, where the large population of grey kangaroos means you’re likely to see them hopping about. The local golf course is a popular hangout, where they add a bit of extra excitement to a casual round of 18. Best seen at dusk or dawn, the golf club even runs kangaroo-watching tours at the weekend.
There are several different species of wallaby, but the most common are the agile wallaby and the red-necked wallaby. There are also rock-wallabies whose feet are adapted to gripping rock formations rather than digging, and pademelons who live in the forest. You’ll need to head to remote, rocky areas to spot these little critters in the wild. One of the best places is South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, which offers great wallaby viewing opportunities as well as some of the most breath-taking views in Australia.
Tasmanian devils are a carnivorous marsupial, with a feisty and cantankerous disposition. Although they could once be found all over Australia, they are now only indigenous to Tasmania following the introduction of predators and attempts by farmers to cull the population in the 19th century. They only come out at night, so the best places to see them are wildlife parks such as the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park on the Tasman Peninsula. You can take a guided tour to see these surprisingly cute creatures in the flesh and know that you’re contributing to their conservation.
There’s something fascinating about crocodiles, with their massive teeth, scaly bodies, and associations with the Jurassic era. Australia has both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, although it is the latter that many people travel to see. Don’t be misled by the local tendency to affectionately call them ‘salties’, these massive creatures are the most dangerous things you’ll find in Australia. You can see them in the wild, although you should go with a guide unless you’re an expert in croc safety. One of the best ways to see them is on a jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River, where feeding is permitted and you can see these gigantic beasts leaping from the water to grab food dangled overhead. It’s an awe-inspiring experience.
Sometimes called the puppy dogs of the sea, meeting these playful creatures in the wild is a really special experience. Australian Sea Lions are endangered, but in Seal Cove at Port Lincoln you can see – and even swim with – these gorgeous animals. They often come bounding up to the boat if you go out on the water to see them, showing off by leaping out of the water and doing backflips. If you choose a tour that lets you swim with the sea lions you’ll get to experience their playful nature close up, as they swim close to get a good look at you and dive away through the water.
Whale sharks are the world’s biggest fish and, despite their intimidating name, these giants are beautifully gentle. From April to July, they congregate along Ningaloo Reef in Australia, where the huge fish (they can grow to be 18m long) feed on the plankton around the reef. You can take a whale shark tour that will let you snorkel or dive with these graceful fish, so you can appreciate their breath-taking size and beauty up close.
Reaching up to two meters in height, with long legs and soft brown feathers, the emu is an unusual and fascinating bird. They are able to run up to 50km an hour and live in the grasslands, woodlands and forests all over Australia. The best place to see these awkward giants is somewhere like Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve on the Great Ocean Road, where they can be spotted feeding on grass, leaves and insects.
If this guide has made you want to see Australia’s unique native wildlife for yourself, why not book one of Cruise1st UK’s amazing deals on a cruise that visits some of Australia’s nature hotspots? Browse the full collection online or call our friendly sales team on 0808 273 6987.