A trip to Australia isn’t complete without seeing its wildlife. Of course, you could head to a sanctuary or a zoo to see iconic Australian animals, but it is a lot more exciting to actually spot them in their natural habitat. And it’s not too hard! I’ve been living in Australia for more than 10 years, and here’s what I think are the best places to see wildlife in Australia.
The list is in clockwise order, starting from the top of Queensland. The numbers refer to the map at the end of the article.
Responsible travel tip: It is tempting but for their safety, it is better not to feed wildlife. It can change their behaviour, make them sick and also unbalance the entire ecosystem. New South Wales Parks even write, “feeding native animals is the worst thing you can do”. Click here to know why.
The best places to see wildlife in Queensland
1. Great Barrier Reef
Do I even need to introduce the Great Barrier Reef? It’s obviously a fantastic place to spot fish, sharks and even minke whales.
Do you find scuba diving scary? I know the feeling. I have now done more than 200 dives, so I’ve shared my experience about overcoming my fear of scuba diving in this article; I hope it can help!
2. Daintree forest
A trip on the Daintree River gives visitors the opportunity to see crocodiles, birds and bats in their natural habitat. You may also meet a cassowary while driving or hiking.
3. Mission Beach
Mission Beach is on the Cassowary Coast. Do I need to write more details on why it made it to the list? Cassowaries, and their babies, are regularly spotted in the town and nearby national parks.
4. Magnetic Island
If you want to see koalas during your trip around Australia, Magnetic Island is a must-visit destination. We also spotted rock wallabies and many marine critters during our day trip.
6. Great Keppel Island
We didn’t see as much native wildlife as we had hoped while hiking Great Keppel Island (but we did see many goats, unfortunately). However, it was a great place to see echidnas (they even have a resident echidna at the resort!), dugongs and all the reef inhabitants too.
7. Heron Island
Most islands on the Great Barrier Reef are great places to see wildlife in Australia, but Heron Island is my favourite. If you visit early in the year, you can see turtles nesting, hatchlings, baby sharks and shovelnose rays, and so many birds… just from the beach!
From December to March, turtle hatchlings can be spotted at many beaches on the coast of Queensland and on the islands. But you often need to be lucky to see them. At Mon Repos near Bundaberg, they organize tours with rangers to take you to the beach at night.
9. Hervey Bay
You can spot humpback whales migrating along the coast of Australia from many places, but in Hervey Bay, they often stop to rest for a while, making it the best place to see them in Australia.
10. K’gari (Fraser Island)
K’gari is one of the best places in Australia to spot wildlife. You’ll get to see dingoes, which are usually hard to spot. If you’re camping, you’ll also see a few marsupials at night. Indian’s Head is a great place to spot marine wildlife.
11. Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
Minjerribah is an easy day trip from Brisbane and a fantastic place to see wildlife. On one trip, you can spot some of the most iconic Australian animals: kangaroos, koalas, dolphins, whales (in winter), and manta rays (in summer). The North Gorge Walk is perfect for spotting wildlife and enjoying stunning views.
12. Coombabah Lake Conservation Park
This reserve near the Gold Coast is easy to reach, and we spotted kangaroos straight away from the car park. We had to be a little bit more patient to see koalas, but we ended up seeing a couple.
13. Natural Bridge
A trip to Springbrook National Park Natural Bridge at night will give you a chance to see rare glow worms in a natural cave. Bats also live further down in the cave. It’s a unique experience.
The best places where to see wildlife in New South Wales
14. Blue Mountains
We took our friends touring the world to the Blue Mountains for their only weekend in Australia. During our quick visit to Jenolan Caves, we spotted a cute rock wallaby and a platypus in Blue Lake. We could see them much closer than at Bombala (New South Wales), the capital of the platypus.
15. Bendeela Recreation Area
Wombats aren’t as easy to find as many other iconic Australian wildlife. But only 2.5 hours south of Sydney, you’ll have the joy of finding wombats around the Bendeela Recreation Area. Remember, they are nocturnal animals, so your chances will be higher if you walk in the area closer to sunset.
16. Barunguba (Montague Island)
If you want to see little penguins up close, Barunguba (Montague Island) is a fantastic option. The number of people is limited to avoid having a crowd. Earlier in the day, we had fun in the water with the seals.
The best places where to see wildlife in Tasmania
17. Maria Island
You’re guaranteed to see a lot of wildlife during a road trip around Tasmania, sometimes more than you wished for, as it can make driving quite stressful. There are no cars on Maria Island, so you can fully enjoy watching wildlife without worrying. It’s one of the best places where to see wombats in Tasmania. Even though they’re nocturnal animals, you still have a high chance of seeing them on a day trip to Maria Island. You’ll also see many wallabies and birds.
18. Bruny Island
You’ll see wallabies on Bruny Island, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a white wallaby at Adventure Bay. From there, you can join a cruise to explore the southeast of the island and see seals and birds in a stunning setting.
19. Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is famous for its magnificent hikes, but it is also a fantastic place to see wildlife. If you go for a short walk at the end of the afternoon near Ronny Creek in Cradle Mountain, you will see wombats close to the boardwalk. Echidnas are often spotted in the park too.
20. Lillico Beach
Bicheno might be the most famous place to see penguins in Tasmania, on the east coast, but I much preferred our experience on Lillico Beach, near Devonport. They have created a boardwalk around the penguin rookery with red lights. It makes it easy for visitors to see penguins at night without disturbing them. There are other similar boardwalks at Burnie and Stanley. I’ve listed all the best places to see penguins in Tasmania here.
The best places where to see wildlife in Victoria
21. Wilsons Promontory
National Parks are always a good choice to try to see wildlife. We hiked all day when we visited Wilsons Promontory. But it was back at the campground that I got very excited by our wildlife encounter: a wombat walked just past my tent!
22. Phillip Island
Phillip Island is famous for the Penguin Parade, so no list of places to see wildlife in Australia would be complete without it. However, there are so many people attending that it sometimes feels like you’re not in the wild! I haven’t seen them during my visit, but I’ve heard echidnas live there too.
23. Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is not only one of the most beautiful roads to drive on with its remarkable cliffs, but it is also a great place to see wildlife in Australia. I’ve spotted koalas every time I visited (even during our half-marathon race!). The nearby Great Otway National Park is also reputed for seeing platypus – but I wasn’t lucky when I visited.
Where to see wildlife in South Australia
24. Kangaroo Island
With kangaroos, birds, seals, sea lions, koalas, and many more, Kangaroo Island is an amazing destination where you’re guaranteed to spot wildlife.
25. Baird Bay
One of my favourite wildlife experiences in Australia was in Baird Bay. We got to swim with dolphins and play with sea lions from a small intimate boat. I was very surprised by how much they would interact with us. We saw a few emus during our drive there.
The best places to see wildlife in Western Australia
26. Lucky Bay
Lucky Bay is far from everything, but it is the best place to see kangaroos in the wild. They pose in front of a stunning white sandy beach with stunning turquoise water. You won’t get a better Australian postcard-perfect shot.
27. Rottnest Island
Have you heard of the quokkas? They’re so cute, and the best place to see them in the wild in Australia is on Rottnest Island. You’ll also have a chance to see seals at one of the stunning lookouts.
28. Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth
This is the best place in Australia to spot whale sharks. Manta rays can also be seen, and of course, all the reef inhabitants.
The best places to see wildlife in the Northern Territory
29. Katherine Gorge
While canoeing in Katherine Gorge, we had a close encounter with a couple of freshwater crocodiles. They’re not as dangerous as saltwater crocodiles, so it was a great experience seeing them in the wild.
30. Kakadu National Park
There are a few tours available to see saltwater crocodiles in the region, which is an impressive sight. The birdlife there is also amazing, and we had the opportunity to see the iconic Jabiru.
But the list shouldn’t stop at 25. There are many other places to see wildlife in Australia. The more time you spend in nature, the more chances you’ll have. Kangaroos are almost everywhere, and we regularly saw emus while driving.