Sea Dragon Lodge and Villas, Kangaroo Island, South Australia © Tourism Australia
Australia’s best wildlife experiences
With animals found nowhere else on Earth, Australia’s wildlife encounters are always one of a kind.
Whether you’re ready to dive in or prefer to observe from the comfort of a boat, Australian waters offer an incredible array of unique marine life experiences. Turtles, colourful fish and even manta rays are common sites for snorkellers, while tour operators all over the country offer exciting eco-sensitive encounters with whales, dolphins, sea lions and whale sharks.
Seeing a kangaroo or koala is a bucket list experience for so many visitors. And for good reason! Outside of zoos, Australia’s endemic wildlife can only be found here, making it a truly special encounter. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as you might expect. Just head outside of urban areas for your best chance at finding a snoozing koala or bouncing kangaroo. Hot tip: ‘roos love to graze on golf courses!
Keen to meet some of the world’s fiercest predators? In Australia, you can get face-to-face with saltwater crocodiles and great white sharks in a controlled environment. Each experience puts you into a protective cage to be lowered into the animal’s environment. Marvel at their size and power as they swim and circle around you.
A great way to ensure you’ll get to see Australia’s iconic animals is to visit one of our incredible zoos, wildlife parks or sanctuaries. They are perfect for travellers who are short on time, families with small children or travellers with accessibility requirements. Many zoos even offer exciting wildlife encounters, giving you the chance to safely interact with a range of species much closer than you could in the wild.
Some of Australia’s wildlife can be elusive, so heading out with a guide on an outback safari gives you the best chance of spotting native animals in the wild. Your guide will also share facts about the animals and their ecosystem as you head into areas not accessible to everyone. The best part? With the keen eye of an experienced guide, you’re likely to see creatures you weren’t looking for, such as lizards, birds and smaller marsupials.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of unique species, including colourful fish, mammals, corals and turtles. Exploring this diverse underwater world gets more exciting with each trip, and having a list of must-spot creatures just adds another layer of intrigue. From tiny clown fish to giant clams, how many of the Great Eight will you see?
Every year, Australia’s coasts become a highway for migrating whales. Along both the east and west coasts, pods of humpbacks head to the warmer waters of the north in winter and back to the cooler waters of the south as summer approaches. Numbers are so plentiful that many tour operators guarantee sightings. The southern coastline offers the chance to see southern right whales and orcas as they too make their annual migrations.
Travel is a rewarding experience in itself, but it can be even more so when we endeavour to leave a place better than how we found it. Australia offers amazing opportunities to have a positive impact on the environment, like becoming a citizen scientist on the Great Barrier Reef or helping to rebuild koala habitats.
You may not associate Australia with penguins, but Victoria’s Phillip Island is home to the largest little penguin colony in the world. Visitors are encouraged to pocket their phones and watch in awe as the tiny seabirds emerge from the sea and waddle their way back to their burrows each night. It’s as cute as it sounds.