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One of the best parts of visiting Australia is getting to see some of the country’s unique wildlife. Because the country is relatively isolated, it is home to many animals you cannot find everywhere else in the world.
Kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, whales, dolphins, and wombats are just some of the exotic animals you may see.
Whether you’ve only got a few days or several months, you won’t want to miss out on seeing some of these incredible species in the wild. We’ve compiled some of the best places across the country to some of Australia’s most iconic animals.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a koala up close, Australia is the best place to be. These solitary creatures spend most of their time hanging out and sleeping in Eucalypt trees, so they can be hard to spot unless you know where to look.
One of the best places to see koalas in their natural habitat is in the state of Victoria. The state is the only part of Australia where the koalas have not been affected by the Chlamydia disease. As such, they continue to thrive in large numbers and are easier to find.
We recommend checking out the Kennet River Koala Walk along the Great Ocean Road where you can spot koalas lounging in the treetops. Don’t forget to look up!
On the opposite coast near Brisbane, you’ll find the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It is the country’s oldest and largest sanctuary and offers tours, as well as the opportunity to hand-feed a koala.
You can walk around the protected area and visit the 138 koalas the sanctuary is home to. If you prefer to see koalas in the wild, head to Magnetic Island or Kangaroo Island, both of which have significant koala populations.
Every year, several species of whales migrate through the oceans that surround Australia. For the best chances of seeing these beautiful creatures, plan ahead and find out the best times to visit. For instance, between June and September every year, whales migrate along the coast of Victoria. Every winter, Southern Right Whales migrate to the bay around Warrnambool.
They stay in the area to calve and birth their offspring before returning to the cooler waters of the Sub-Arctic ocean. Check out Logans Beach, which has a dedicated whale watching platform among the sand dunes. It is the perfect place for Warrnambool whale watching along Australia’s Great Ocean Road.
Another whale-watching hotspot in Hervey Bay in Queensland on Australia’s eastern coast. The protected bay is the perfect spot to see humpback whales swimming through the ocean. The best time to visit is between July and September, though whales do move through the area as early as May. To experience these majestic animals up close, book a guided boat tour with a responsible whale watching company.
Kangaroos are arguably Australia’s most iconic animals. So much so, they are even featured on the country’s coat of arms. Luckily, kangaroos can be seen across almost all of Australia. These large muscular animals are characterized by their front-pouch, pointed ears, and characteristic hop.
Kangaroos are most active around dusk and dawn, so it’s best to head out early in the morning or early evening. For the best viewing opportunities, get out of the cities and look for open grassy spaces. Collisions with kangaroos are not uncommon, so be aware on the roads, especially at dusk.
One of the best places to see Kangaroos in Australia is Kangaroo Island, located roughly 2 hours from Adelaide. The island has a large protected area with plenty of open space for the animals to hop around. The area around Australia’s capital of Canberra is also known for its high kangaroo population. Namadgi National park, Tidbinbilla National Park and Mount Ainslie are all good spots to spot kangaroos.
Wombats are another unique animal native to Australia. These small, short-legged creatures are extremely muscular, and are mainly nocturnal, mainly coming out in the evenings to eat. Wombats prefer cooler temperatures, so you’ll have to get away from busy cities and sunny beaches. A good spot to see some furry wombats is Wilson’s Promontory National Park in Victoria. The thick bush is the ideal home for the many wombats that live there.
There are a few good places to see wombats within a few hours of Sydney including the Jenolan Caves, the New South Wales Southern Highlands, and the Snowy Mountains. Another famous location for spotting wombats is Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, particularly in winter. You’ll want to visit the area around Ronny Creek at sunset when they start to come out for the night.
Quokkas are another quirky Aussie animal you may not have heard of. These small creatures are roughly the size of a house cat and are often referred to as Australia’s cutest animal. They can be spotted around a few of Australia’s coastal islands, most prominently on Rottnest Island where they were first discovered. Today, there are roughly 10,000-12,000 Quokkas on the island, making it a popular destination to see these little creatures.
Though the animals are quite friendly, you should never attempt to pick them up or feed them. Quokkas are very friendly and many of them will even come up to you, so don’t try to chase them. If you want to get close, head to the area around the settlements as the Quokkas there are more used to humans. Enjoy their cuteness from a distance and snap some photos to reminisce over later. To get to Rottnest Island, you can take a quick ferry from the city of Perth.
Whether you’re looking for an avid animal lover or simply looking for a fun activity while in Australia, be sure to check out some of its most iconic species. Remember to be respectful, don’t feel the animals, and keep your distance. This is the best way we can protect these beautiful animals.
Natasha is of the Great Ocean Road Collective. A website dedicated to sharing the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Australia with travelers far and wide. If you are planning your trip, need some inspiration or looking for authentic advice on Aussie travel visit our website The Great Ocean Road Australia or check us out on Instagram.