Middle River, Kangaroo Island, South Australia © South Australian Tourism Commission
Where to spot kangaroos in the wild
With these tips, you’ll be hanging out with one of Australia's most iconic animals in no time.
By Fleur Bainger
With around 50 million of them across the country – twice the number of residents – kangaroos are one of Australia’s most easily spotted native animals. Affectionately referred to as "roos", these bouncing herbivores are social creatures who typically lay low in the heat of the day and emerge at dawn and dusk to graze. Time your search right and you’re bound to see plenty. Here’s where to look.
Roos on the beach
Humans aren’t the only creatures who like to feel the sand between their toes; kangaroos regularly sun themselves at a handful of Australian beaches. Arguably the most photogenic is Lucky Bay, in Western Australia’s Cape Le Grand National Park. More easily accessible is Pebbly Beach in Murramarang National Park on the New South Wales South Coast, or at the beach adjacent to Diamond Head Campground in Crowdy Bay National Park, on the Barrington Coast. In Queensland, wallabies – cute, smaller relatives of the kangaroo – cluster on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park as the sun rises and sets.
Roos on islands
Kangaroos aren’t just found on Australia’s mainland. As you’d expect, there are loads on the eponymous Kangaroo Island, a short flight from Adelaide or a 45-minute ferry ride from Cape Jervis (1.5 hours’ drive south of the city). In fact, there are so many roos here that hire vehicles are prohibited from driving at dawn and dusk, when wildlife emerges to graze on roadsides. Meanwhile, the largest marsupial on Tasmania’s Maria Island – and the second largest marsupial in the world – is the forester kangaroo. Look out for it in grassy forests and woodlands.
Roos on the plains
Perhaps most of all, kangaroos love flat, grassy plains and wide open spaces. The Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra is a great inner-city option for spotting kangaroos. Early morning is when the eastern greys are out and about. Just outside the city, hundreds of roos roam at Namadgi National Park. Three species of kangaroo can be found within the 540-million-year-old landscape of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges - the red kangaroo, western grey kangaroo and euro while communities of roos laze beside one of the world’s tallest tree forests in Pemberton, in Western Australia’s southwest.
Roos in trees
Queensland’s elusive tree kangaroos are one of the more trickier kangaroo species to see. Hidden among the leafy canopy of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, Australia’s two species look more like huge possums, with blackish-brown fur and super-long tails. These rare nocturnal creatures don’t move around much during the day, so your best bet for spotting one is to go on a night wildlife walk. Otherwise, head to Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas for a closer look.
Roos in vineyards
It’s not uncommon to spot a kangaroo between the vineyard rows in any of Australia’s wine regions. There are loads in Western Australia’s Margaret River, while several wine tours in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales combine tastings with roo sightings. South Australia’s Barossa Valley is another hotspot, along with Canberra’s vineyards in the Australian Capital Territory.
Roos on golf courses
If you want a guarantee of seeing wild kangaroos, head to any golf course around Australia. Drawn to the well-watered grass, they love to nibble the greens and laze beneath shady trees. Queensland’s Noosa Golf Club, Victoria’s Anglesea Golf Club and the Australian Capital Territory’s Federal Golf Club are all strong roo magnets. In New South Wales, some golf clubs even offer kangaroo-spotting tours in a golf buggy, such as Hunter Valley Golf & Country Club and Nelson Bay Golf Club.