Best regions to spot… Australia’s renowned wildlife

| December 6, 2018

Consisting of 8,222 islands within its maritime borders, Australia has a vast natural diversity and provides the perfect habitat for a wide variety of animals. Approximately 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic, which provides endless opportunities to spot wildlife across the country.

Western Australia 

Often overlooked for its isolation, the vast region of Western Australia covers the entire western third of the country. Consisting mostly of the never-ending, arid outback, the region also has 20,781km of coastline and the fertile wine region of Margaret River. The Coral Coast stretches along Western Australia's coastline and is teeming with marine life. As one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world, Ningaloo reef is a feeding ground for the ocean's gentle giant, the whale shark.  

These plankton-eating big fish are often spotted between the months of April and July. Snorkelling excursions can be arranged, to see their true enormity in their natural habitat. Along the coast you can also encounter manta rays, sea turtles and over 500 species of tropical fish. Rottnest Island near Perth has an eclectic mix of land animals, the most famous being the quokka – a kangaroo-like marsupial that is the size of a domestic cat.

Known for their adorable faces, they can only be found in this region. Here you can also spot ospreys nesting as well as the humpback and southern right whale migration between September and late November. Wild birds including banded stilts, crested terns and red-capped plovers can often be seen on Lake Herschel and Lake Baghdad.

Whale Shark, Ningaloo Reef

A whale shark, Ningaloo Reef


Over 400km away from Melbourne, this remarkable island on the edge of the world hosts some of Australia's most loved creatures, as well as many lesser-known species endemic to Tasmania. Due to a diverse environment, this small island hosts a varied population of wildlife. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park has more than 20 walking trails, where you can often spot Bennett's wallabies, rufus wallabies, potoroos and an array of birds.

The Cradle Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to the protection of Tasmania's three endangered carnivorous marsupials: the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tailed quoll and the eastern quoll. The Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, whereas the spotted-tail quoll and the eastern quoll are more opportunistic carnivores that largely scavenge on carrion or morsels of food from feeding devils.

Wombat in Cradle Mountain

A wombat, Cradle Mountain

South Australia 

Discover native wildlife and the vast expanse of the Australian outback in South Australia, from the world’s smallest species of penguin to sea lions and koalas. Drive along Kangaroo Island’s dramatic coastline on a multi-day 4x4 tour, searching for the elusive echidna, brushtail possums and kangaroos. Visit Seal Bay, where a large seal colony live, followed by the spectacular sand dunes of Little Sahara. A trip to South Australia wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the outback.

The Flinders Ranges is north of Adelaide; encompassing over 430km it is the region’s largest mountain range. Wilpena Pound is an impressive natural mountainous amphitheatre that dates back 800 million years. Take a walk through the bush, keeping your eyes peeled for red kangaroos, emus, wedge-tailed eagles and the beautiful mallee ringneck parrots.

Then, get some perspective on a scenic flight over the pound. Get a feel for rural Australian hospitality at Rawnsley Park Station, a working sheep farm that offers secluded bush camping. For those not willing to sacrifice on comfort, the luxurious eco-villas have outstanding views of the ranges.

Kangaroos on a beach, Kangaroo Island

Kangaroos on Kangaroo Island


Roughly the size of the British Isles, the state of Victoria offers unparalleled landscapes and has an abundance of wildlife. Philip Island is linked to the mainland by a bridge and is only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. You can see over 200 species of birds here, including masked lapwings, spoonbills and black swans. However, the most famous event that takes place on the island is the 'Penguin Parade'. Set on Summerland beach, fairy penguins emerge in their hundreds from the sea at dusk. They waddle over to the sand dunes to take shelter in their burrows for the evening.

Wilson's Promontory is a lesser-known national park that provides some of the most accessible and spectacular coastal scenery. An area where wallabies and wombats roam, forests lie alongside the turquoise waters. Spot the timid koalas in the eucalyptus trees along many of Victoria's coastal roads.

Wild Koalas, Victoria

A mother koala with her child, Victoria

Northern Territory 

The Northern Territory holds the heart of Australia; it’s an arid, dusty land where Aboriginal spiritual beliefs originated. In contrast to the deserted outback in the south, the most northern point of the Northern Territory is lush and tropical with expansive rainforests, floodplains and wetlands.

It is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, with jacanas, azure kingfishers, kookaburras and black-necked storks often spotted. Located on a working buffalo station and in the heart of the Mary River Wetlands, Bamurru Plains is a luxury camp with safari-style raised suites that blend into the surrounding floodplains, allowing guests to spot kangaroos and even crocodiles from the comfort of their deck.

Saltwater crocodile, Mary River Wetlands, Australia

Saltwater crocodile, Mary River Wetlands


Queensland, also known as the sunshine state, has a tropical climate and lots of palm-fringed beaches. The world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree, is estimated to be over 180 million years old. Within the forest, exotic butterflies flourish and pre-historic estuarine crocodiles lurk in the mangroves. You may even be fortunate enough to see a cassowary cross the road, though these birds are rarely seen in the wild.

The world's largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, is off the coast of Queensland. There are over 900 islands on the reef and Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is designed to minimise its impact on the environment. The surrounding waters are a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life. Swimming with manta rays and turtles here is an unforgettable experience.

Cassowary, Daintree rainforest, Queensland

Cassowary, Daintree Rainforest

New South Wales

New South Wales may be best known for Sydney, but you will find yourself spoiled for choice for mountainous landscapes and deserted bays. Port Stevens and Jervis Bay are two notable places to spot dolphins and humpback whales between May and November. For an eco-friendly, luxurious camping experience, Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay is set among eucalyptus and paperbark trees. Their open-air private en suites are perfect for bird watching and spotting kangaroos while showering!

Dolphins, Port Stephens

Dolphins, Port Stephens

Cox & Kings arranges escorted group tours and tailor-made private travel throughout Australia. To visit many of the stunning sights described in this article, options include our Tasmania Adventure tour, or the Wildlife & Wilderness Family Explorer. Alternatively, find out more about all our holidays to Australia here.

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