Australia is home to unique and fascinating creatures that can't be found anywhere else, making it a great destination for wildlife lovers and curious travelers alike. From the iconic kangaroo to some of the world's most venomous snakes, there are plenty of animals to admire in the Australian wild. The country's diverse terrain means that wildlife can be found all over. But, there are some hotspots where you're more likely to spot animals. Here are 19 of the best places to see wildlife in Australia, in no particular order:
Tip: download the Seek app by iNaturalist. Using the app, you can identify almost any plant or animal with your phone camera!
1. Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is a haven for native Australian animals. The most iconic species found there are a unique subspecies of kangaroo, which can be seen almost anywhere on the island's trails. Other animals include koalas, wallabies, echidnas, lizards, and snakes. The waters around the island are home to Bottlenose Dolphins, Leafy Sea Dragons, Fur Seals, Australian Sea Lions, and sometimes whales. A colony of Fairy Penguins also inhabits the island and can be seen at dusk as they return to their dens after a day of fishing.
2. Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is filled with a wide variety of native Australian animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas, echidnas, wombats, and numerous bird species. While sightings here are rare, there are several snake species such as Tiger Snakes, Red-Bellied Black Snakes, and the Eastern Brown Snake. At night various types of gliders, possums, and bats awaken in search of food. If you’re lucky, you might even find a Southern Brown Bandicoot. The park's waterways are also home to platypuses and a variety of frogs.
3. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to a wide variety of native Australian animals, including Red Kangaroos, dingoes, Malas (a type of wallaby), emus, and numerous bird species. Reptiles and amphibians, such as the Blue-Tongued Lizard, the King Brown Snake, the Sand Goanna, the magnificent Thorny Devil, and the world’s second-largest lizard - the Perentie, can also be spotted in the park. Despite not being native to Australia, you may also come across brumbies and camels roaming around. As night falls, keep your eyes peeled for the Spinifex Hopping Mice and Brush-Tailed Mulgaras.
4. Wilsons Prom
Wilson's Promontory National Park is home to large numbers of kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats, which can often be seen roaming through the campsites. Emus, koalas, and echidnas also inhabit the area, though they are less commonly seen. The park is also home to a variety of reptiles, including Blue-Tongued Lizards and Tiger Snakes. You might also spot seals, dolphins, and whales in the waters surrounding the park.
5. Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest rainforest and is bursting with life! Along with the more common wildlife such as kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and various bird species, the rainforest is also home to around 400 rare or endangered species such as Cassowaries, Tree Kangaroos, and White-Lipped Tree Frogs. Reptiles such as Taipans, Saltwater Crocodiles, and Death Adders can also be spotted, as well as various other frogs, and numerous species of butterflies.
6. The Otway Ranges
The Great Otway National Park is a great way to combine wildlife with sightseeing as it stretches along the Great Ocean Road. It’s also one of the best places to see koalas in Victoria, with almost guaranteed sightings near Kennett River. Melba Gully is filled with glow worms, which makes for a particularly spectacular walk at night. Throughout the ranges, there are also plenty of kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, wombats, birds, and reptiles to be found.
7. Lamington National Park
In Lamington National Park, you can see kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, koalas, possums, gliders, echidnas, and numerous bird species. Keep a lookout for the rare Spotted-tailed Quoll, an Albert’s Lyrebird, or a Richmond Birdwing Butterfly.
8. Fraser Island
In regards to wildlife, Fraser Island is most known for its wild dingoes that roam the sandy beaches and it is one of the best chances of seeing them in the wild. However, the island is also home to echidnas, wallabies, bandicoots, and gliders. In the surrounding waters, dolphins, dugongs, and migrating whales can also be found.
9. Kakadu National Park
In Kakadu National Park you can find dingoes, wallaroos and wallabies, flying foxes, turtles, and bandicoots. Reptiles such as Saltwater Crocodiles, Frilled-Neck Lizards, file snakes, and Flatback Turtles can also be spotted. The occasional Snubfin Dolphin has also been found near the mouth of the South Alligator River. At night time, be on the lookout for the endangered Northern Quoll.
10. Nullarbor Plain
South Australia and Western Australia
While the Nullarbor Plain might look inhospitable, many native animals have adapted to this harsh environment. Some of the wildlife is unique to this part of the country, such as the Nullarbor Quail-Thrush and the Nullarbor Bearded Dragon. For bird enthusiasts, keep an eye out for the Malleefowl. It’s also possible to see dingoes, Red Kangaroos, Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombats, and wild camels roaming around. On the coast, it’s common to see migrating Southern Right Whales.
11. Anywhere in Tasmania
Being detached from the mainland, Tasmania is a wildlife haven, teeming with wildlife not seen anywhere else in the country. You have a high chance of seeing wildlife just about everywhere on the island. However, most animals are nocturnal so take a slow drive or walk at night for your best chances of seeing the endangered Tasmanian Devils and quolls. Pademelons and wallabies are common sights and you also have a good chance of seeing a platypus, wombat, or echidna. Along the coast, a variety of seals and whales can often be found.
Tip: If you are on a mission to find an elusive platypus, surprisingly they can often be found in the creek behind the Cascade Brewery in Hobart.
12. Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world for a very good reason and is home to an incredible variety of animals. Turtles, manta rays, dolphins, whales, sharks, and a plethora of fish species all call the reef home. But that’s not all, in this diverse ecosystem there’s a chance to see Giant Clams, dugongs, Whale Sharks, Giant Tritons, Blanket Octopuses, sea snakes, and a huge variety of coral species.
13. Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Reef is a fringing reef which means it lies very close to shore so it's super accessible! It’s home to an array of spectacular marine life, ranging from whale sharks and manta rays to dugongs and whales. Plus, there’s also an abundance of shark, fish, and coral species that call this area home.
14. Port Phillip Bay
Port Phillip Bay is often overlooked as a diving destination in Australia but is a great place to see some of Australia’s marine life such as the Weedy Sea Dragons, Blue-Ringed Octopuses, and the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Most of the dive sites are below piers, making them easy to navigate, shore dives that are suitable for divers of all experience levels. You can also find the very cute and very tiny Dumpling Squid, a huge array of nudibranchs, the Giant Southern Ray, Port Jackson Sharks as well as countless other sharks, rays, fish, and coral species. Occasionally, dolphins and seals can also be seen in the waters around Port Phillip Bay.
15. Adelaide Hills
If you go hiking anywhere in the Adelaide Hills, you are more than likely to come across some native wildlife. The hills are home to animals such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, echidnas, and kookaburras. Reptiles such as Bearded Dragons, Blue-Tongued Lizards, Little Whip Snakes, and Eastern Brown Snakes can also be spotted, as well as frogs, turtles, and numerous species of native birds.
16. Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln is the place to go in Australia to swim with some of the most feared and respected marine predators - the Great White Sharks! Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions even offer ocean-floor cage dives for certified divers, to get see these magnificent beasts swimming through the reef. The area is also home to Australian Sea Lions, Australian Fur Seals, Bottlenose Dolphins, and Southern Right Whales.
17. Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is home to a variety of native Australian animals, but its most iconic local is the Quokka. These little marsupials are close relatives to kangaroos and wallabies and are said to be the happiest animal in the world thanks to their cute faces and big smiles! Aside from a small group on the mainland, this is the only place in the world you can see Quokkas in the wild. Without any natural predators on the island, these little guys are thriving!
18. Wolf Rock
This marine sanctuary is a particularly special place for the marine life that inhabit Australian waters. Considered one of the best shark dive sites in Australia, Wolf Rock is the only known gestation site for the critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks. Being so close to the Great Barrier Reef, you can also expect to see similar varieties of tropical fish and the dive site is also frequented by manta rays, Leopard Sharks, Giant Queensland Groupers, Wobbegongs, and Humpback Whales.
19. Phillip Island
Phillip Island is a great place to see Blue Penguins (also known as Fairy Penguins or Little Penguins). There are two main places to see them on the island, at the Penguin Parade or at the Nobbies. The Nobbies is free to visit and you will find these little guys in their burrows as you make your way around the boardwalk. However, you’re unlikely to see them wandering around, especially during the day. For the Penguin Parade, you have to buy a ticket, which is quite pricey, but you get to see them riding the waves into shore at sunset as they return to their homes from a full day out fishing, which is a pretty cool experience in itself! Then as you make your way along the boardwalk, you can watch them waddling home alongside you.
Australia is home to a huge variety of wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. As soon as you get out of the big cities, you can find wildlife just about anywhere, but these locations offer the best chance to see the native wildlife in their natural habitats, both on land and underwater.