Where to See Australia’s Iconic Wildlife

Where to See Australia’s Iconic Wildlife

Australia is a massive hunk of an island. Because the nation is so isolated, unique animals roam throughout the diverse landscapes. Spotting iconic native fauna is high on most Australian traveller’s bucket lists. Sure, one can easily find them at zoos, but encountering wildlife in their natural habitat is even more thrilling. Here is a list of some easily accessible places you can stop along your campervan road trip to spot some captivating creatures. But first! Some precautions: Cassowary Cassowaries are the second largest bird in the world (standing up to 2 metres tall) and are found in northeastern Australia. With their scaly legs, large helmets crowning their blue heads, and daggered toes, these distinctive creatures resemble dinosaurs. Only about 1,200 exist, so cassowaries are rare to come across. Daintree Rainforest tourists carefully traverse the roads in hopes of spotting cassowaries, but most will not see one. One place where you have a good chance is at Etty Bay, a 20-minute drive from Innisfail. The secluded bay stretches 700m and the water is usually safe for swimming. It is common to see a cassowary trotting around on the beach, snooping to see what people are having for lunch. Encountering a cassowary is a remarkable experience every traveller should cherish, but it is especially important to stay a safe distance as they are the most dangerous birds in the world.

Platypus Because they are so shy, platypus is one of the rarest animals to find. Platypuses are unique to Australia and the animal kingdom; they are one of the two mammals to lay eggs! Your best bet is at Broken River in Eungella National Park, Queensland. Park your campervan at the Visitor Centre and take a short walk to the platypus-viewing platform. Be sure to keep your voice at a whisper to not scare them away!

Kangaroo If you travel Australia without seeing a kangaroo, then you must be on another continent. These hopping marsupials are seemingly everywhere outside of main cities. If you want to get close to observe, Wilsons Promontory is an excellent place to do so. Dawn or dusk is the optimum time when the animals are grazing, specifically at the Wilsons Prom Wildlife trail, where you also may see wombats, emus, echidnas, wallabies, and native birds.

Read more about a perfect day trip to Wilsons Promontory. Koala Koalas typically inhabit eucalyptus forest in Australia. These leaf-munching marsupials are largely sedentary, sleeping for 20 hours a day. They tend to climb high into trees and bundle up into sleeping lumps, so it isn’t easy to find them. One place where you’re guaranteed to find a handful is on Raymond Island, in the East Gippsland region. Raymond Island is only accessible by ferry from Paynesville (free for pedestrians, $12 for a car/caravan). The Koala Trail is flat, easy, and close to the dock, so a car is not necessary. When you disembark the ferry, watch for the signs and arrows for the Koala Trail, which run through residential areas. Look up into the trees and you will find many koalas! You’re also likely to stumble upon rainbow lorikeets. Their vibrant colors are hard to miss!

Fairy Penguin Think penguins only inhabit icy conditions? Think again! Fairy penguins, standing about 33cm tall, are found in southern Australia as well as New Zealand. Phillip Island, a popular day trip from Melbourne, is most famed for viewing packs of these little penguins as they march home after a day’s work of fishing. There are two ways to see the penguins on Phillip Island: Penguin Parade: This nightly event allows visitors to watch penguins trot home. A ticket ($25.70 AUD for adults) gets you access to the close-up viewing platform from a safe distance to not disturb the penguins. Timing varies based on the season, so check out this handy guide. The Nobbies: The boardwalk boasts spectacular views of the rugged coastline. Fairy penguins are often found here as they waddle into their little boxed homes. Even if you don’t see penguins, the views are worth the trip alone.

Have you had any interesting wildlife encounters in Australia? Share your experiences in the comments or add the spot in the CamperMate app!