Boasting a combination of incredible biodiversity and an amazing variety of natural environments, Australia was made for wildlife experiences. Check out our top recommendations below for how to get up close and personal with Mother Nature Down Under.
Whale-watching at Jervis Bay
The coastal waters around most of Australia are positively swarming at various points of the year with these majestic creatures but the area around Jervis Bay in New South Wales during the humpback migration season is particularly special. The season runs from May to November but arguably the best time to see the spectacle is October-November, when you can witness mothers nursing their newborns.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Approximately 250 miles north of Sydney, the welcoming town of Port Macquarie is a great spot to stop for those travelling up or down the East Coast (a favourite backpacking route). A must-see when there is the famous Koala Hospital. Established almost half a century ago, the charitable organisation cares for and rehabilitates injured koalas, and puts on guided tours for the public to see behind the scenes.
See turtles hatching in Mon Repos
Located on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, the locality of Mon Repos (close to the small city of Bundaberg) is the site of one of the largest concentrations of nesting turtles on the Australian mainland. The nesting season runs from November to March, and during this time you can join evening sessions to watch mother turtles laying their eggs and hatchlings flip-flopping their way into the sea.
Spot a cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest is an ancient wilderness in northeastern Queensland that looks much the same as it did 60 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the planet. And one of its most iconic inhabitants, the cassowary, does look like it’s been plucked straight out of Jurassic Park. Looking like a sort of tropical ostrich, these enormous, flightless birds stomp around the forest floor grazing on fruit. If you do see one, admire from a distance – they’re kinda grouchy.
Swim with a saltwater croc in Darwin
Yes, you read that correctly. There would, of course, be adequate protection, so you’d have all the thrill of seeing one of the world’s ultimate apex predators up close and in its natural (sort of) environment, but without the whole mortal danger element. Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin is the place to go, where the invitingly-named Cage of Death awaits. There’s plenty of other crocodile-related stuff to do and see there, too.
Sunset camel ride on Cable Beach
For a somewhat more placid experience, you could go on a camel sunset safari on the stunning Cable Beach in Broome, northwestern Australia. This pristine stretch of pure white sand – backed by ruddy cliffs and fronted by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean – runs for 14 miles straight, and it’s hard to imagine a better spot to ride the humped beasts. It’s also hard to imagine a better way to make your friends back home insanely jealous of, let’s face it, your perfect life.
Snorkel off the beach at Ningaloo Reef
Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, which requires a boat trip to get out to, Western Australia’s version – Ningaloo Reef, in Western Australia’s aptly-named Coral Bay – practically touches the shoreline. This means you can swim out straight off the beach and snorkel in the World Heritage-listed marine park. From March to June you can see the mighty whale shark, and all year round sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays, and a gazillion other sea creatures, can be spotted.