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Australian Animals
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Halls Gap kangaroos,  Australia

A mob of ruly 'roos in Hall's Gap reserve, Grampian Highlands.

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Australia Photos and Information: Melbourne | Sydney | Uluru | Adelaide

 

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Australia is blessed with a collection of totally unique and bizarre animals that any traveller would want to see, and quite a few that a traveller would prefer to avoid. But, unfortunately, Australia animals are not that easy for tourists to find.

 

 

Some of the best places to see wildlife are - naturally - off the beaten track and mostly predator-free (e.g. dingoes and foxes). The southerly island of Tasmania hums with wallabies, possums, wombats and Tasmanian devils, though the weather is chilly for Australia and a flight will be required.

Kangaroo Island, 13kms off the coast near Adelaide and accessible by car ferry is home to kangaroos and even platypus in Flinders Chase National Park and wallabies, echidnas (a kind of hedgehog), possums, koalas, goannas (big lizards), sea lions, fur seals and penguins in different locations. Plenty of birds too, and whales in season (June-September).

Otherwise, kangaroos mostly live in the outback, a massive area a long way off the normal tourist route. Even then kangaroos 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 (joey = a baby kangaroo).
However, Anglesea Golf Course, just off the Great Ocean Road (near Melbourne) is famous for hosting some remarkably relaxed animals. Kangaroo Pictures

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.

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.

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 eucalypts near the road or even above the road. Koala Photos

Wombats, 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.

Cute 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?).

Fruit bats can be seen hanging around most city gardens and flying at dusk.

 

 

Birds: There's plenty of birdlife around Australia. Sydney, for example, hosts hundreds of bold ibis that are almost as city-cool as pigeons, while its Botanic Gardens are chaotic at dusk as parrots and parakeets chatter to one another and cockatoos raucously fight it out for prime nesting rights.

Travellers keen on seeing and getting decent animal pictures have three main options:
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 animals.

The following pages show pictures of some of Australia's odd, but harmless creatures. We don't have pictures, however, of the ones that you don't want to meet on a dark night. They are equally difficult to come across, fortunately.

Nasties. These critters are not looking for trouble and if you give them a chance they will slither the other way. Don't get paranoid now, just keep your eyes open...you don't run across the road without looking do you?

Snakes: Oz hosts ten of the deadliest 'Joe Blakes' in the world, among them the tiger, brown, smooth and death adder. Don't ever try to catch one and wear boots and long trousers when walking. See snake bites for more information.

Spiders: Two highly unpleasant beasts are the funnel-web and the redback, both enjoying the hospitality of east coast urban areas and more. Eyes peeled, even when entering the swimming pool! See spider bites for more information.

Crocodiles: Saltwater crocs, aka Salties, can live in freshwater as well as salt water estuaries and grow up to an incredible 6m (18ft) long, the world's largest reptile.
However hot and dusty you may be, never swim where there are no locals participating or signs giving the OK. Salties like white meat and don't mind if you've still got your boots on. See crocodile attacks for more information.

Blue-ringed octopus: These cute little animals like to hunt in rocky pools on/near the shore. The size of a hand, they pack a hideously toxic punch. Just ensure that the kids don't play with any marine life lurking near the beach, even if it seems dead. See blue-ringed octopus for more information.

Jellyfish: The box jelly is THE most toxic creature on earth and its little brother, irukandji, is nearly as bad, especially if you have a weak heart. They like warm waters around the Great Barrier Reef and are common November-April. Swimming is usually discouraged on beaches north of Rockhampton (north of Brisbane) in the high season unless stinger nets are in place or you wear a lycra stinger suit. See jellyfish stings for more information.

 

Sharks: No worries mate! You have the same chance of being killed by a shark as being killed by a falling coconut. Accidents happen of course, and if a Great White with myopia thinks you are a seal, then, goodbye. Stay away from surfing if you're nervous and/or wear a colourful wetsuit. See shark attacks for more information.

So, relax, but not too much. Look out! Just kidding, really, it's OK, if Australians can flourish with these beasties about, so can you.

 

 

Australia Photos and Information: Melbourne | Sydney | Uluru | Adelaide

 

Australia Travel Guide | Beaches Guide | Australia Map | Destinations Guide

 

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