Lucy Curno Wild Futures

Best Spots To Get Up Close(ish) With Wildlife

There are many ways to get wild this summer, and one great option is to grab your daypack (or suitcase – make it a holiday) and see Australia’s favourite wildlife in their natural homes. 

Our country is home to so many unique species. In fact, more than 80% of Australia’s flora and fauna is nowhere else in the world, so it would be a shame to not catch a glimpse of these national icons for yourself.

Keep in mind seeing our country’s most loveable creatures in their wild habitat can be slightly trickier, as they may not necessarily want to be found. It’s important to remember to observe them from a respectful distance and not disrupt their daily to-do list (eating, sleeping etc).

Being out in nature with these furry friends can do you a world of good as well. Time in the wild is also great for us humans as it decreases stress levels and deepens our connection with the world we live in.

So, before you set off on your next road trip, check out where you’re likely to get up close with some wonderful wildlife across the country.


1) Koalas: Raymond Island, VIC

Now, we could have easily suggested the Great Ocean Road (in particular Kennett River) as the best place in Victoria to spot these cuddly creatures. But everyone recommends that, so we’re branching out and suggesting the eucalypts of Raymond Island on Tatungalung Country as the go-to location for koala spotting. A short ride on a ferry (pedestrians travel for free) from Paynesville and this tiny island is predominantly a koala trail. This 1.2km trail winds between residential streets and sections of towering trees where many koalas can be spotted, napping, as per usual. 

There are more than 200 koalas on the island, after a group of them were relocated there as a safety measure against extinction. Raymond Island is the perfect example of people and wildlife living harmoniously together, which we think is worth checking out.

Tell me more



2) Platypus: Nymboida River, NSW

What better place to spot these mysterious mammals than at Platypus Flat Campground? Nymboida River is home to one of the largest platypus communities on the North Coast, so pack the tent and give yourself the best chance to spot one. You can even hire a canoe and explore the river while doing so. The best time to catch a glimpse of this unique and curious creature is early in the morning and or late afternoon.

Tell me more



3) Kangaroos: Pebbly Beach, Murramarang National Park, NSW

Now, kangaroos may not be the trickiest Aussie animal to spot – in fact, they’re everywhere once you leave the city. But, sharing your day at the beach with a friendly bunch of roos is less common – unless you’re at Pebbly Beach of course. Widely known as home of the surfing kangaroos (this remains a myth from a photo of a roo in the white wash) – not only is it a beautiful place to camp and surf, but you’ll be jumping for joy if getting up close and personal with kangaroos is on the bucket list.

Tell me more



4) Emus: Coffin Bay, SA

Coffin Bay National Park may be known for its calm, clear waters and unspoiled coastline but it turns out Coffin Bay is also teeming with wildlife – and in particular, emus. Emus in the water, emus on the beach, emus crossing the road with their chicks. Coffin Bay is a haven for many reasons. Bonus points for if you have a 4wd and can explore a bit further!

Tell me more



5) Wedge-tailed eagle: Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, SA

We’ve thrown in a second wildlife spotting opportunity in SA, because having the chance to see a Wedge-tailed eagle is pretty great! As Australia’s largest bird of prey, the Wedge-tailed eagle is pretty impressive to see soaring above. They’re known to be seen at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, specifically above the Warraweena Conservation Park, and can be identified by their tails which jut out before tapering to a point in the middle.

Tell me more



6) Wombats: Maria Island, Tasmania

Now Maria Island needs to be on the to-do list for many reasons. With rugged cliffs and coastlines, mountains to climb, white sand beaches and bikes to hire to explore it all – it’s an incredibly unique and special spot. Add in the abundance of threatened species that were released onto the island in the 1970’s, it’s referred to as Tasmania’s Noah’s Ark and the wombat capital of Australia.

The wombats that call Maria Island home are for some reason, even cuter than your mainland wombats too. Their fluffiness and cuddliness prompted the need for all visitors to the island to be required to sign a pledge which states they won’t get too close or interfere with the wombats and promise to let them “stay wild”. We love this education piece!

Tell me more



7) Sea Turtles: Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, QLD

Heron Island is already a paradise in itself, and a mere 2 hour ferry from Gladstone Marina will get you to the crystal clear waters of this turtle haven. 

The island is an incredibly important habitat for turtles all year round (and has been for decades), but if you want the ultimate turtle experience then visiting between November – March is the best time. This is when the Green and Loggerhead sea turtles will begin nesting on the beaches, with hatching season happening from January – May. Where to find them, you ask? It’s said any spot of sand above the high tide is where the turtles nest. The Heron Island community are incredibly protective of their turtles (rightly so), so strict guidelines apply to turtle watching, including keeping your distance and not flashing lights near them as it confuses the turtles. 

Tell me more



8) Tree Kangaroos: Atherton Tablelands, QLD

Never heard of tree kangaroos? This is why this is such an exciting addition to the list, because they exist and they’re adorable. The Atherton Tablelands is the easiest spot to discover these incredible hybrid animals, that bound like a kangaroo (and have young in their pouch) but sleep in trees like koalas. Admittedly they’re tricky to spot being up in the branches of trees, but it turns out the Nerada Tea Plantation is home to a family of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos – or mupee, boongary or marbi, as they are known variously to the area’s Djirrbal and Ngadjon-jii peoples.

Tell me more



9) Quokkas: Rottnest Island, WA

This may be the most predictable wildlife to spot on the list so far, but there’s a reason why people flock to Rottnest Island in WA to see the smiling quokkas. These adorable and photogenic marsupials are thriving on the remote island with no predators, so next time you’re visiting Perth make sure you take a daytrip to visit them. The quokkas may not be camera shy and join you for a selfie, but remember not to feed or  touch them – they are wild after all. 

Tell me more

Want to do more for Australia’s threatened species? Find out more about our Wild Futures initiatives, and the various projects you can be involved with.