From the largest reef in the world to adorable animal encounters, there’s arguably no better place to see more impressive and delightful wildlife than Australia. Here’s your guide, whether you want to see Australia’s wildlife by sea or land or both! You’ll be astounded by the cutest creatures in existence — including the world’s smallest penguins and cuddly koalas.
Considering Australia is the world’s largest island, you’re going to want to explore some of its aquatic wonders.
While Humpback whales can be seen around the Fraser Coast region in Hervey Bay and also in the Ningaloo Marine Park, the most famous is the “Humpback Highway” along Australia’s east coast where their migration to and from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef provides easy viewing options in Sydney, Byron Bay, and the Gold Coast twice every year.
In various locations on the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Marine Park, you can see several types of rays, but you can’t miss the marvelous and massive manta ray, with wings spanning up to 23 feet. Larger than most cars, when they swim above you, it looks like a cloud has passed over the sun. Beyond humpback whales and manta rays, Ningaloo Marine Park is also home to the gentle whale shark. This marine park rivals the Great Barrier Reef with easy access from the beach too.
And no trip to Australia complete without diving, snorkeling, swimming or seeing the Great Barrier Reef. Try the Reefsleep Experience, where you and a small group will go to a platform on the edge of Hardy Reef for a day-long adventure with diving, snorkeling and boat and helicopter rides. Enjoy a delicious barbecue in the evening and night dive, before retiring to your tent under the star-glittering night sky.
On a Scubadoo adventure, you wear a helmet with a big dome for viewing underwater wonders and ride a small, bright, sunshiny, yellow motor scooter. The scooters are easy to maneuver, and a dive guide will be by your side during your entire journey. Or choose a mini-submarine ride, where you and one guest will submerge with a guide in a small, yellow submarine to view the vast array of tropical fish, coral and sea turtles. On the Seawalker experience, you can walk the sea floor wearing a large, clear diving helmet for unobstructed views of the remarkable reef and sea life. This experience is perfect for non-swimmers and those who wear glasses. You can also rent and sail a small yacht on your own or indulge and charter a larger vessel for your friends or family.
For a completely different perspective take in astounding aerial views of the varying shades of blue water, the secluded islands and the patterns of the reef. You will be marveling at the enormity of the reef as you Skydive or view it from a Seaplane.
Enjoy close encounters with Australia’s cute animals in both the wild and wildlife sanctuaries. The country’s top adorable attention-getting creature is the quokka, which lives on Rottnest Island. They are small cat-sized wallabies and can be seen roaming around the island. Thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s recent visit to Australia’s newest eco-glamping resort, Discovery Eco Village, the hottest pic to get is a selfie with a quokka.
There are a remarkable 55 different native species of kangaroos and wallabies varying greatly in size and weight; from one pound to nearly 200 pounds. You can see wild kangaroos in numerous locations, including the aptly named Kangaroo Island, where you’ll find kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and wombats.
When you think of Australia, the koala almost always come to mind. These adorable marsupials live along the east coast of Australia in eucalyptus forests. Although they can be spotted in the wild and at other sanctuaries, you can enjoy the rare opportunity to cuddle a koala at Queensland’s Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast.
Found mostly in southeastern Australia and Tasmania, there are three different species of wombats — a large and cute burrowing mammal. Some of the top places to see them in the wild are in Victoria’s Wilsons Promontory National Park and Kangaroo Valley. You can also see them in the Healesville Sanctuary zoo exhibit and at the conservation resort Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, where they freely roam around the 7000-acre grounds, munching on the grass. Hop on a bicycle and explore the area, which is striking in the early morning and at dusk.
On Phillip Island, you can watch the world’s smallest penguins — little penguins — waddle up from the sea to cross the beach to their burrows.
If you don’t spot a Tasmanian devil in the wild on the island of Tasmania, you’re guaranteed to meet a few when you visit Devils @ Cradle, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. A guided tour lets you both learn about and see devils up close.
Although platypuses are notoriously elusive in the wild, at Healesville Zoo, you can see the duck-like billed national icon, which appears on the Australian 20-cent coin. Put on a pair of waders and step into the platypus pool to play with one of these quirky, cute river- and stream-dwelling creatures for a fun animal encounter you won’t soon forget.
By land or sea, with so many possible awe-inspiring and precious wildlife experiences, you will benefit from the guidance of one of our Australia experts to help you plan your Aussie wildlife adventures.