Known as a paradise for wildlife, Australia is like a huge nature reserve because of its isolation. Among thousands of birds species worldwide, 300 unique and often colourful species of birds are found Down Under: the emu, the lyrebird, the kookaburra, the black swan and many different species of parrots among them.
Of course you’ll also find the famous iconic animals the kangaroo and koala, as well as their less well known marsupial cousins the possum, the wombat and the wallaby – the marsupials in themselves are unique and the only family of animals that carry their young in a pouch.
In the Northern Territory, Darwin is the perfect place to observe crocodiles (one “croc” per inhabitant) while remaining careful: crocodile attacks are real and one or two people are killed each year. The saltwater crocodile can weigh up to one tonne and measure 7 metres long. It’s considered to be one of the most dangerous animal species and it doesn’t hesitate to stalk and attack humans intentionally. Kakadu National Park is a perfect place to observe crocodiles in their natural state, but beware of the risks, listen to park rangers and always read and observe the signs.
Another Aussie specialty is the Tasmanian devil: this notoriously bad-tempered marsupial lived on the mainland of the Australian continent 600 years ago, but is now only found living naturally in Tasmania.
The Australian ecosystem has been overwhelmed since colonisation. Several introduced animals have had disastrous consequences on the existing ecological balance. Especially the rabbits that arrived with the first colonists are out of control with few natural predators and ideal conditions to breed. Control campaigns have been developed to reduce and control the rabbit population that has exceeded 200 million at times. Currently the Afghan camels are too numerous. Their population doubles every 8 years, and they cause a range of problems in the fragile desert areas of the Australia’s “Red Centre”.
Aussies animals are numerous and diversified. We have put together a list of places to see them, all easily accessible from our supplier’s campervan pickup locations around Australia.
- Australia Zoo, Beerwah, Sunshine Coast: founded in 1970 by the late Steve Irwin and now run by his family, it covers 40 hectares with more than 1000 animals to see
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane: good spot to observe koalas and interact with kangaroos
- Perth Zoo
- National Zoo & Aquarium of Canberra
- Taronga Zoo in Sydney – fantastic location by the harbour with access by bus or ferry as well as car
- Melbourne Zoo
- Sea World, Gold Coast
- Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin: if you’re very brave (or a little crazy), dive in the Cage of Death
- In Port Lincoln (SA), it’s possible to dive with the Lord of seas: the Great White Shark, while you are protected in a cage
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
For nature lovers, we’ve got few spots to suggest as well. Australia’s numerous national parks are the best place to see animals in the wild. Check our table to find some suggestions:
|Dolphins||Port Philip, VIC; Noosa, QLD; Tin Can Bay, QLD; Monkey Mia, WA|
|Whales||Hervey Bay, QLD; Gold Coast, QLD; (best season: July till November); Albany, WA|
|Turtles||Great Barrier Reef, QLD, off QLD coast year-round|
|Fairy Penguins (Little Penguins)||Philip Island, VIC|
|Dingoes||Fraser Island, QLD, most of inland Australia|
|Crocodiles||Darwin, NT; Daintree National Park, Far North QLD|
|Sea Lions||Perth, WA|
|Seal, sea lion, kangaroo, wallaby, koala, platypus, possum, dolphins sometimes||Kangaroo Island, SA|
|Possums||Throughout Australia, even in the cities|
|Koala||Blue Mountains, NSW; Daisy Hill, QLD|