mob of ruly 'roos, not as common a sight as you might think, especially in urban areas.
| Sydney | Uluru
is blessed with unique and bizarre animals
Oz wildlife is one of the must-sees for any traveller down under, but there are also quite a few that a
traveller would prefer to avoid. Unfortunately, many of the harmless creatures are not that easy for tourists to find.
of the best places to see wildlife are - naturally - off the
beaten track and mostly predator-free (dingoes and foxes mainly).
The southerly island of Tasmania hums with wallabies, possums, wombats and Tasmanian devils,
though the weather is chilly for Australia and a flight will
Kangaroos mostly live in the outback, a massive area
a long way off the normal tourist route. Even then 'roos
generally rest up during the heat of the day, feeding at night,
so the first sight of one might be in the headlights of your
bus as your driver applies emergency braking.
On a quick two or three week trip taking in the country's prime
tourist targets - Sydney, Cairns, Uluru and perhaps Melbourne
the average joe is very unlikely to stumble across an average
joey (a baby kangaroo).
However for those keen to see the iconic Australian animal could try Kangaroo Island, 13kms off the
coast near Adelaide and accessible by car ferry. It's home to kangaroos
in Flinders Chase National Park with wallabies,
echidnas (a kind of hedgehog), possums, koalas, goannas (big
lizards), sea lions, fur seals, penguins and even platypus in different locations.
Plenty of birds too, and whales in season (June-September).
However, Anglesea Golf Course, just off the Great Ocean Road
(near Melbourne) is famous for hosting some remarkably relaxed
animals who just love a gentle game while Adelaide's Cleland houses quite a number of the big hoppers, though somehow they don't fit in as well there as the smaller wallabies.
Getting to meet indigenous animals in Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide. Wallabies are always up for a social.
Award-winning Cleland Wildlife Park is home to over 130 species of Australian wildlife, 20 minutes outside Adelaide in south Australia. Many animals roam freely in the huge park, creating impromptu opportunities to mingle with the natives.
Wallabies (small kangaroos) seem to be more urban and less nervous animals
than most 'roos and may be spotted lurking around quiet suburbs
of small towns or standing by the road chewing a leaf wondering
whether to hop in front of your shiny new rental.
Wild koala spotting along the Great Ocean Road.
Koalas too are not that easy to find since they're well camouflaged and spend 18 hours a day up a gum tree asleep, the rest of it
moving little more than their leaf chewing apparatus. Apparently Koalas don't just look thick, they are thick because their entire system is dedicated to digesting toxic eucalyptus leaves and there isn't enough space for serious thinking. Not to mention that they have no predators to worry about.
Of Australia's 400 or so varieties of Eucalyptus koalas enjoy
only four, and those are found near the sea, so sharp eyes on
a coastal road such as the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and
Apollo Bay will yield sightings - first wait for koala road
warning signs, then look for fat, furry blobs in trees - not just eucalypts - near
or above the road.
on the Australian mainland but a pest in Tasmania is this bad-tempered
little Tasmanian Devil.
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat not doing very much as usual. Photo by Jason Pratt
closely related to koalas, are almost impossible to see in the
wild (pretty difficult to see even in zoos since they're almost
always asleep), as they are rare, stay underground for lengthy
periods - up to a week - and would trash Sleeping Beauty in
a lengthy nap competition.
The Brushtail possum is a pest that breeds widely and can have long term adverse effects on trees; it particularly disliked in New Zealand for the damage it does.
and varied possums lurk in many
trees but are tricky to spot, being well-camouflaged, nervous
and nocturnal. Melbourne's Botanic Gardens are supposed to be
writhing with the little critters after dark - joggers are always
stumbling across them - but the Bugcrew didn't see any (maybe
because we don't jog?).
keen on seeing Australian animals have three
1) Stay for a longer time to enable more extensive travel, such
as a drive along the Great
Ocean Road, as mentioned above.
2) Be content with visiting one or more of the excellent wildlife
parks. We found Adelaide's Cleland Wildlife Park to be exceptionally
spacious and user-friendly. e.g. visitors can walk among kangaroos,
wallabies, emus and more, feeding them the park's grain.
3) Join a tour that specialises in viewing wild things.
A Duck-billed Platypus in Sydney Zoo.
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