Animal spotting is something of a different game when you’re in Australia with many animals being too dangerous or endangered to get too close to. Most of the paths off the beaten track are also quite difficult to get to without a car which means visitors often stick to the cities and wildlife parks. However, it’s easy to spot Australian animals in the wild if you know where to look.
We spotted most of these animals on our road trip adventure to the Great Ocean Road between the Central Coast of New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria.
Kangaroos are the one native animal you’ll have absolutely no trouble finding. Just don’t go looking for them at dawn or dusk because you’ll probably end up hitting one with your car. One of the best places to see kangaroos up close is Pebbly Beach, located inside Murramarang National Park, just north of Batemans Bay, NSW. You’ll also spot them at Tower Hill in Vic.
Basically a smaller kangaroo, you’ll probably come across wallabies driving between NSW and Vic. One of the places we were able to get up close and personal to wallabies was Tower Hill in Vic. The dormant volcano is home to kangaroos, emus and snakes too. Keep your eye out for a swamp wallaby hiding in the shrubs.
We only spotted one echidna on our road trip and it was crossing the road in Mogo, NSW. In the past we’ve also spotted many echidnas in Kangaroo Valley and Berry on the NSW south coast. These guys are often shy and tend to hide from people so make sure you’re watching out for them!
Like the echidna, the wombat tends to shy away from people. You’ll have better chance spotting a wombat during sunset or at night which explains why they’re often hit by cars on the roads. If you see a deep burrow in the bush, you’re likely around a wombat. Another sign of wombats to lookout for is poop cubes. Wombats poop in cubes so they don’t roll away. We spotted one wombat on the side of the road driving at night past Lakes Entrance, Vic but we’ve also spotted a number of wombats in Kangaroo Valley, NSW.
Emus aren’t always a very friendly animal to see in the wild but they’re not too scary at Tower Hill, Vic. You’ll see them along any of the walking tracks and in the picnic areas so hold on to your lunch! We also spotted a wild emu in Jindabyne, wandering a paddock. Locals have named her Dorothy or Dot for short.
Dingoes probably aren’t the animal you want to spot in the wild as they can become protective of their pack and their territory, especially now that the drought has significantly affected their food and water supplies. However, there’s a haven you can visit just outside Shepparton, Vic that only requires a donation to enter. This donation helps continue providing for and protecting the dingoes and wild dogs. The Bushland Dingo Haven is the best place to get up close and hug a dingo pup. Just be sure to ring ahead and book before you arrive!
Koalas are one of the hardest native Australian animals to spot in the wild because they’re often sleeping high up in a gum tree, blending into their surroundings. They’re definitely easier to spot when they’re on the move. The only place we’ve ever been able to see koalas in the wild was off the Great Ocean Road in Kennett River. You’ll see the Koala Cafe on the side of the road, next to a caravan park. Turn onto the dirt road behind the caravan park, slow the car down and look up. You’ll likely see more koalas the further away from the campground you go. We spotted ten koalas in just 20 minutes!
Australia has so many native birds that it would take me forever to list them all. If you’re looking for the elusive Wedged Tailed Eagle, head to Agnes Falls, Vic and keep your eyes peeled when driving between Ballarat and Bendigo, Vic. Birds like the Rainbow Lorikeet, Magpie, Rosella and the Noisy Minor will be easy to spot in almost any gum tree, even in the suburbs.
There are a number of seal hot spots along the Australian coast but there are two favourites of mine. The first is in Tasmania, off the coast of Bruny Island. You’ll need to book a boat tour but it’s worth it! The second is Narooma in NSW, sort of half way between Batemans Bay and Eden, where you’ll spot seals sunbathing along the water’s edge.
There are a couple of places worth visiting if you love penguins. The first is Bruny Island off the coast of Tasmania. Be sure to wait around at sunset for when the parents return from the ocean, walk up the beach and back to their offspring. It’s a similar scenario at Phillip Island, however, the best vantage spots may actually cost you. You’ll be able to spot them from the Nobbies Centre though.
Turtles and marine life
If you’re looking for colourful fish, sea turtles and maybe even a reef shark, you’re better off heading north to the Great Barrier Reef. However, there are plenty of fish in the waters off NSW and Vic so grab a snorkel and head to Hyams Beach for tropical fish and the bottle nosed dolphin, Forster-Tuncurry for sharks, stingrays and dolphins and Byron Bay for turtle spotting.
How many native Australian animals have you spotted in the wild? Let me know in the comments below!