Australia Wildlife

Mob of kangaroos, Australia

Australia wildlife: A mob of ruly ‘roos, not as common a sight as you might think, especially in urban areas.

Australia is blessed with unique and bizarre wildlife

Australia 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.
Some 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 be required.

Kangaroos

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).

kangaroos on a golf course tee, Great Ocean Road, Australia

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.

Girl meets wallaby in Cleland Wildlife Park, Australia

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.

Koalas

koala meets tourist up a tree, Australia wildlife

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.

Dingo

Dingo on Lake Mackenzie beach, Fraser Island, Australia

Here’s a dingo looking quite unthreatening on Fraser Island but known to be potentially dangerous due to their infectious bite and their interest in easy prey, such as babies or more recently human legs. A dingo  is a kind of of wild dog native to Australia and an icon –  especially for Aboriginal Australians – in spite of their reputation for attacking  babies. Dingoes generally feed on  rabbits and rats and are thus helpful to farmers and people living in the outback. More from Wikipedia

Goanna

A goanna, a large lizard, Australia

A goanna, a large and very common lizard. Photo by SMC Spet.

A goanna is a monitor lizard commonly found in Australia and Southeast Asia. Goannas are notable mainly because they sport scary teeth, large claws and can grow to a substantial size, frequently around 8ft (2.5m) long. They mostly eat small animals and from the carcasses of larger but dead animals, but have been known to grab an occasional unwary sheep. More

Echidna

An Echidna rooting for insects in Cleland Wildlife Park, Australia

An Echidna rooting for insects in Cleland Wildlife Park, near Adelaide.

Echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters, are the world’s only egg laying mammals and live off ants and termites. They can be found in Papua New Guinea as well as Australia.

Flies

massed Australian flies on a man's hat, Red Centre, Australia

Massed Australian flies on a man’s hat, Red Centre.

Flies in King’s Canyon and just about all over the outback that we visited, caused – they say – by farming as flies breed in cow manure or corpses. This is by far the worst aspect of traveling Australia’s Outback and for us visitors the ‘lucky country’s’ worst enemy. Not dangerous but extremely bloody irritating. Bag on your head or blowflies sucking on your eyeballs? Take your pick.

Various strange creatures

a Tasmanian Devil, Adelaide, Australia

Rarer on the Australian mainland but a pest in Tasmania is this bad-tempered little Tasmanian Devil.

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat not doing very much, Australia

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat not doing very much as usual. Photo by Jason Pratt

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.

The Brushtail possum, Australia

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.

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? ).

Travellers keen on seeing Australia wildlife have three 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 things.

Duck-billed Platypus, Sydney zoo, Australia

A Duck-billed Platypus in Sydney Zoo.