The 17 best places to see Australian animals in the bush!

Kangaroos, Paynesville
According to the Australian Wildlife Society there are 50-60 million kangaroos in Australia. With a population that large they should be easy to find, but they aren't - at least not always. Like other Australian animals they can be remarkably elusive. A fellow blogger recently spent two weeks here, mostly outside the big cities, and didn't see a single kangaroo in the bush. I don't want that to happen to you so I have drawn on the resources of  a group of pretty savvy travel bloggers to put together this guide on the best places in the bush to see Australia's unique animals.

 I have grouped the suggestions by state and added my own picks at the end of this post.

Kangaroos in Queensland

Toni of  2 Aussie Travellers is a native of Queensland, The Sunshine State. One of her favourite places for spotting kangaroos in the bush is the Coombabah Wetlands.

Coombabah Wetlands on the Gold Coast is one of the best places we know to see wild kangaroos and wallabies in south-east Queensland. It’s about 12 km from Surfers Paradise beach to the wetlands and will take you around 20 minutes to drive. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon. At dusk each day they gather in large groups on the grassy paddock areas and you can see dozens of them relaxed and eating out in the open - they’re right there you don’t even need to go looking for them.

If you prefer to come during the day you’ll want to walk the boardwalk or trails and you’ll find them in smaller groups sheltering in the shade of the trees. Remember to look up regularly too, we’ve seen koalas here along the various walkways and a wide variety of native bird life.


For Toni's blog post on kangaroos in the Coombabah Wetlands click - here

Koalas in Queensland

Carolin of  Breathing Travel recommends Noosa National Park for koala spotting in Queensland.

Noosa National Park touches the Pacific Ocean right around the corner from the beautiful seaside town of Noosa Heads, a mere 135km north of Brisbane. The National Park boasts fantastic beaches, surf-able waves, lookouts and wildlife. If you have good eyes and a bit of luck you will see koalas snoozing high up in the trees. So when you come for an early morning walk on one of the multiple national park treks, don’t forget to pause and look up.

Carolin's tips:
  • Start early in the day when the air is still crisp.
  • Also look for black-cockatoos, red goshawks and dolphins.

Koalas often sit high in the trees and can be hard to photograph so Carolin has given us a photo of the glorious Noosa National Park. For Carolin's post on Noosa click - here

Cassowaries in Queensland

Sally of  Lady and the Tramp tells us where to look for cassowaries, one of the most elusive creatures in Australia. 

The Daintree Rainforest is located about 2 hours north of Cairns in Cape Tribulation and is a haven for cassowary. Although these animals are rare, you still have a great opportunity to spot them. Head for the Dubuji Boardwalk Trail just after the Daintree Discovery Centre and take the longer hiking option (this route extends past the boardwalk and is definitely worth it). The Marrja Boardwalk also provides an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of this mysterious creature. Keep your eyes peeled for movement in the densely packed rainforest!

Sally's tips:
  • Spend your days exploring. Take plenty of walks, walk slowly, keep quiet and have your camera ready!


I am jealous! David and I spent several hours wandering through a rainforest in Queensland once looking for cassowaries to no avail. For Sally's post on Cape Tribulation click - here 

Koalas in Victoria

Jen of The Snow Chasers recommends my favourite spot for a guaranteed koala sighting. For an animal which never runs away they can be tricky to find unless you know where to look.

Raymond Island is a small island off the coast of Victoria. It's about 3 hours drive from Melbourne and accessed by a 2 minute ferry from the town of Paynesville. We had heard that there were koalas living on Raymond Island but were so surprised by how many there actually were. We spotted 15 koalas in an hour.

The ferry is free for pedestrians. We were given a map on the ferry showing the different trails including the koala trail for the best koala sightings. There are also pictures of koalas with arrows painted on the footpaths as well as signage throughout the island. All you have to do is look up and spot the koalas!

Jen's tips:
  • Walk or hire a bicycle to explore the island, you'll see a lot more this way. 
  • Take a walk to the water's edge for some great views. 
  • Pack a picnic. There are some beautiful shady spots available for picnics around the island. 


As well as koalas keep an eye out for echidnas and kangaroos. David and I have seen both each time we have visited Raymond Island. For my latest blog post on the koalas of Raymond Island click - here

More koalas in Victoria

Barbara of  Let's go Mum recommends the road to Cape Otway Lighthouse for koalas. The first time David and I visited Cape Otway there were lots of koalas in the trees beside the road. When we went back 18 months later, they were all gone. They may have returned by now but if not there are some campgrounds along The Great Ocean Rd where you can almost guarantee you will see them. The road to Cape Otway turns off The Great Ocean Rd, so you pass the campgrounds on your way. Click here for my post on The Great Ocean Rd. You will find directions to the campgrounds in the post. 

A three-hour drive down the M1 from Melbourne you’ll find a magical bushland chock-full of those grey, furry little creatures we all know and love – koalas!

The beautiful peninsula of Cape Otway is perhaps best-known for its lighthouse, however the road to it is a real wildlife treat. Lighthouse Road runs straight through the Great Otway National Park, a gum woodland which hosts one of Australia’s biggest koala colonies. Take care, as spell-bound tourists tend to hit the brakes and leap out just about anywhere to snap sleepy-koala pics - sometimes right next to the road! Entry to the koala forest road is absolutely free If you continue on to the Cape Otway Lightstation, a great tourist destination in its own right, you’re looking at an entry fee of $19.50 per adult.

If you want to see koalas in their natural habitat, you’re not going to find better than Cape Otway.

Barbara's tips:
  • If you do park for a better look, ensure your car is well clear of traffic.
  • Closely supervise children – this is a moderately busy country road.

koala, Cape Otway

For Barbara's post on Cape Otway click - here

Vicki from Make Time to See the World also recommends Cape Otway.

Kangaroos in Victoria

Neil from Bushwalking Blog tells us where to find kangaroos in Melbourne. I was in Melbourne recently. I wish I had known about this.

Woodlands Historic Park is a small tract of remnant bushland in Greenvale, a suburb of Melbourne’s outer north, protected for its cultural heritage and endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Stop by the picnic area on Somerton Road or the car park on Providence Road and take a stroll on any of the easy to follow walking tracks. You won’t have to stray more than a kilometre before you’ll see your first ‘roo. More than likely you’ll see entire herds of them.

Neil's tips:
  • They will be even easier to spot at dusk or dawn but I’ve been there at all times of day and I’ve seen at least a couple on every visit.
  • Bring a picnic or find some of the excellent geocaches if that’s your thing.

kangaroo, Melbourne

Fairy Penguins in Tasmania

Sue of Travel Tales of Life came all the way from Canada to seek out one of our cutest and most adorable little creatures.

Tasmania’s sheltered coastal areas are home to the littlest of all penguins. They come ashore as night falls, in their highest numbers during the breeding season from October through April. The shrubby beach provides an ideal environment for penguin burrows. We joined a small group tour at Low Head near George Town where guides ensure the safety of both visitors and Fairy penguins.

From Launceston drive 57km north on East Tamar Highway and then 6 km north on Low Head Road.

Sue's tips:
  • Dress warmly and wear good walking shoes. The wind coming off the north Tasman Sea as you await the penguin arrival can be surprisingly chilly.
  • Never shine a light or the flash of a camera at the penguins. A flashlight (torch) covered in red cellophane will not harm them. The guides are equipped with suitable lighting.

fairy penguin

For Sue's post on penguin watching in Tasmania click - here

Wallabies in Tasmania

Oksana of  Drink Tea & Travel, found wallabies on a camping trip in Tasmania.

Getting into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park isn't easy. We lugged all our clothes and camping equipment on our back, hiking for over 5 hours to get to our first campsite at Wild Dog Creek. Exhausted and soaking wet from the pouring rain we set up our camp and settled in for the night.

The next day, as the clouds parted, we were greeted by more than just sunny weather. We spotted our first wallaby just by the campsite and saw at least a dozen more hopping around the park as we continued our hike throughout the day. They let us come nice and close and even posed for a few pictures. 

Wallaby, Walls of Jerusalem National Park

For Oksana's blog post on the Walls of Jerusalem National Park click - here

Fairy Penguins in Western Australia

Until I started collecting contributions for this post I had no idea there were penguins in Western Australia. Michele of  Legging It found penguins, dolphins and sea lions not far from Perth.

Rockingham is 60kms south of Perth and accessible via public transport. The area is known for its beautiful beaches and marine wildlife. There is a 16km walk that winds around Safety Bay giving you not only scenic views across the bay but the chance to see  dolphins, sea lions and penguins.

The dolphins can be seen swimming along the shoreline but you can also take a commercial ‘swim with the dolphins’ tour. 

Penguin Island is a sanctuary where penguins live both in the wild and are rehabilitated when found injured. The island is open from September to early June and is accessible via a $13.50, 5-minute ferry ride. You can also take a tour spotting dolphins and seals before spending time on Penguin Island.

fairy penguins, Penguin Island

Kangaroos in Western Australia

Kathy of  50 Shades of Age found kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand.

Imagine visiting one of West Australia’s best-kept secrets and discovering kangaroos sunbaking on the white as snow sand on the beach?

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand is 50 kms east of Esperance and has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Here you will find an ocean coloured all imaginable shades of blue, sand so white and fine it squeaks between your toes, and western grey kangaroos so tame that they will almost eat out of your hand.

Venture beyond the beach and you'll find rolling heathlands and some excellent walking tracks, many offering sweeping views of the wildlife-rich Recherche Archipelago. Plus there are plenty of other pristine untouched stretches of beaches and little bays to explore, all accessible by 4 wheel drive. 

Kathy's tip:
  • To increase your chances of encountering the sunbaking kangaroos, visit early in the morning or at dusk when the kangaroos are most active.
kangaroos, Lucky Bay

For my own, rather disappointing experience, looking for sunbathing kangaroos at Lucky Bay click - here

The Travelling Lindfield's top picks

I can't let the other travel bloggers have all the fun so here are my personal top picks for wildlife spotting in Australia: - 
(Click on the links for more information.)

  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve just outside Canberra. If you only have time for one place, then this is where I would recommend you go. David and I went there last year searching for platypus, one of Australia's shyest and most elusive animals. Not only did we find two platypus but we saw emus, koalas and dozens of kangaroos. Not far outside the reserve we came across an echidna and then a wombat. All the animals are native to the area except koalas, which are kept in a large walk through enclosure. As usual with Australian animals you will exponentially increase your chances of seeing them if you go in the early morning or in the late afternoon.
  • Kangaroo Island, South Australia. You don't need to go to Kangaroo Island to see kangaroos but it is a great place for wildlife nevertheless. Spend a few days there and you will come across kangaroos, koalas and echidnas. If you are lucky you may even see a platypus or two. Be very careful driving on the island at dusk. The kangaroos are so prolific they present a serious driving hazard.
  • Heirisson Island, Perth. Heirisson Island is in East Perth, only a few minutes by car from Perth CBD. There is a reserve on the island where a mob of kangaroos live. You can walk right up to them.
  • Phillip Island, Victoria. I am a fairy penguin tragic. The best place in the world to see these adorable little birds is King Island in Bass Strait between the Australian mainland and Tasmania. It is a great destination, but you have to fly there. Fortunately, the fairy penguin parade on Phillip Island runs a very close second and is really easy to get to. 
  •  Rottnest Island, Western Australia. This is the only place in the world where you are likely to see a quokka in the bush. They are kind of cute and if your goal is to see an Australian animal none of your friends have ever heard of then Rottnest is for you.
  • Geehi Rest Area, Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales. Kangaroos are so reliable here that their presence is marked on our topographical map. We have seen large mobs, often with joeys in their pouches every time we have been there. Go in the late afternoon. The road to Geehi is in not open in winter.
  • Paynesville, Victoria. The ferry to Raymond Island departs from Paynesville. Not only is Raymond Island the world's best place to see koalas but Eagle Point Bay, just a few kilometres from Paynesville is great for seeing kangaroos.
Additional places - I love wildlife and I am always looking for it. As I discover additional place to see it in Australia I will add them here. If I have written a blog post on the discovery there will be a clickable link.

  • Tasmania generally for platypus. Click on the link for where to find one in Deloraine as well as a few other suggestions. For an exhaustive list of platypus spotting locations in Tasmania check out the comments which my platypus post attracted when it was shared on facebook. More than 60 locals and tourists joined in with their top platypus spotting locations. You can find the link by clicking - here
  • Bruny Island in Tasmania for a colony of rare white wallabies.
  • Tower Hill Reserve for kangaroos and emus. Tower Hill is one of the few places where you can reliably see emus in a natural environment.

Thank you to all the travel bloggers who submitted their favourite wildlife spotting locations. Have I missed anywhere out? Where have you seen animals in the wild?

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  1. What a helpful post this will be for future travelers on the watch for wildlife in Australia! Thanks so much for including our tips on seeing the Fairy Penguins in Tasmania. It will always be a treasured memory seeing those little waddlers.
    What a gorgeous country Australia is! We loved our time there.

    1. Hi Sue. Thank you. When I read your contribution it prompted me to look at the penguin tour you did in Tasmania. David and I are headed to Tassie next week and I am going to book the same tour.

  2. All these places look incredible! I want to go to all of them! Thanks for putting together such a great list!

  3. Great post, we are very lucky that three of the places featured here are very close to where we live, Heirisson Island, Rottnest Island and Penguin Island.

    1. Western Australia is a wildlife lovers dream. I think you see more kangaroos and emus on road trips there than anywhere else in Oz.

  4. I had no idea you could see penguins near Perth! We will be there in February and now I can't wait to visit Penguin Island.

    1. We have plans to visit W.A again next year and Penguin Island is on my list. Don't miss Heirisson Island if you like kangaroos, it is practically in the middle of Perth.

  5. I think we tend to take for granted the amazing wildlife we have in Australia. I used to live just by a nature reserve in Canberra where I would walk and see so many kangaroos which never grew old. Great showcase of what Australia has to offer! :) #wkendtravelinspiration

    1. I never, ever get tired of seeing wildlife. We are so lucky that you can find it so easily in many places.

  6. Wow so many fascinating animals to see when in Australia! I've always wanted to see a Kangaroo and a Koala in their natural habitats! #WeekendWanderlust

    1. Tuck this guide away and follow the tips. Nearly all the places I have mentioned are easy to get to.

  7. We have such exciting native animals in our beautiful country...and it's always such a thrill to spot them in the wild! An excellent article! Thanks Lyn!

    1. I must have seen thousands of kangaroos in my life and I still love it when I see them. Just last weekend David and I were cycling around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra and we saw four or five big roos just next to the path. We were literally in the middle of Canberra.

  8. Thanks for all the advice. I did see 5 koalas in trees on the road to the Otway light station but no echidnas or kangaroos here. Seeing a cassowary would have been great but I didn't have too much time to spend in Cairns.

    1. Next time you are in Sydney let me know. Very occasionally we see echidnas in Lane Cove National Park near where I live. We can go for a walk in the evening and try echidna spotting.

  9. We were incredibly lucky on our trip to Queensland. We saw so much wildlife, including the evasive cassowary. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    1. Did you know that cassowaries are the most dangerous birds in the world. We did a tour of the Daintree Rainforest while we were in Cairns last time. Our guide who was aboriginal and seemed to know what he was talking about had seen one the day before and he really didn't want to come across another one. I would have loved it though - lol!

  10. The koala is just the cutest - Australian animals are just unique and such a draw card for tourists to our wonderful country.

    1. My favourite is still the echidna, although I think they are all cute - except the snakes. We saw a brown snake on a cycle a couple of days ago and I just read that they are the 2nd most poisonous snake in the world.

  11. Hi Lyn -- and a big THANK YOU!
    Come February, Conrad and I will be house sitting in several places around your fair country. Your blog is a fantastic resource. We'll be spending time exploring Perth, Canberra, and Brisbane, so we'll definitely follow your directions to wildlife reserves and parks.
    Wishing you safe and happy travels,

    1. I hope you have a fabulous time. If you are staying in Canberra I can highly recommend renting a bike and cycling the Lake Burley Griffin cycle path. It is a lovely route. David and I were there a couple of weekends ago and we saw several large kangaroos right near the path in Weston Park. You have to keep a sharp eye out because they lay around in the shade under the trees and are hard to spot but someone had a dog off the leash which had spooked these guys so they were standing up and looking around. If you click on the tab on my blog 'Bike Paths & Rail Trails' and then 'A.C.T' I have written a description of the ride.

  12. You have such an amazing wildlife in Australia, Lyn. I have never seen kangaroos, koalas or cassowaries but in zoological gardens. It must be quite an experience exploring all these areas of Australia and see these birds and animals in their own habitat. From where I am looking this part of the world seems very exotic, but probably if you live there you don't see it like that. When I grew up my grandmother used to read me a book in which the main character was an old man from Tasmania and I imagined that place as being the end of the world. Somehow Australia still has that feel of a far-away place for me. I'd love to come visit it. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Haha - I think Tasmania is the end of the world! But shhh don't tell the Tasmanians that, I will get into trouble. D and I are off to Tassie next week, for the first time in at least a decade, so expect some blog posts from there.

  13. Great post and with lots of great suggestions! I love Australia for the fact that it has so many unique animal species, and that it's fairly easy to spot them too when you know where to look. Tower Hill Reserve in Victoria is another great place to find native animals. We saw an echidna, emus, a koala, a snake, a kangaroo, all within just one hour.

    1. You are right. I had forgotten about Tower Hill reserve. It is one of the few places where you can reliably see emus.

  14. There is a colony, not the right word i know, of koalas at Mt Kembla in Wollongong. Kangaroos - we see lots and lots on our way to the snow, and definitely in the city of Canberra itself. We have a lot of possums here in our yard, so that counts too :)

    1. I didn't know there were koalas in Wollongong. Next time I am down that way you will have to give me directions. You are right about kangaroos and Canberra, we always see them on the road which goes past the airport. I didn't include it because there aren't many places to stop. As for possums and bandicoots I nearly gave my address for any one who wants to see them. We are overrun by them and we live very much in the built up suburbs of Sydney.

  15. Nice collection of places to see Australian animals. Those penguins of Tasmania are just too precious.

    1. I'll be checking them out for myself in the next couple of weeks.

  16. Lovely photos of Australian wildlife! I've never been to Australia, but it is high on my list! Thx for the enticement.

  17. I love this post. I imagine that visiting Australia and not seeing a kangaroo would be like visiting Italy and not eating pasta. Should I make it down there one of these days I will absolutely bring this along.

    1. There are plenty of zoos and wildlife parks to make sure you see our animals but there is nothing in the world like the thrill of seeing them in the bush.

  18. Australia has such unique wildlife, and seeing them in the bush is so much more exciting than looking at them in a zoo enclosure. I never did see any wild kangaroos when we visited Sydney but caught a glimpse of one from a train in Cairns. We traipsed along that very same boardwalk in the Daintree but didn't see any cassowary. To be honest, I was half longing to see them but half scared, too. I'm glad that you mentioned Kangaroo Island as that is one of my favorite places from our Australia trip. There were kangaroos and wallabies right outside our cabin often. I never did see a platypus, though.

    1. I glad you saw kangaroos on Kangaroo Island. You don't see many around Sydney. The platypus is one of Australia's most elusive animals. I have only seen them once in the wild.

  19. Pinning this - we move to Australia next year and I want to see everything! We saw wild kangaroos in Queensland on our last holiday and koala in a sanctuary (my friend had one walk down her drive the week before we arrived.) It is one of the most exciting things for me about moving to Oz - all the birds and wildlife soooo exciting (I lived in Africa for years but have been in Europe for 20 years and miss the beautiful birds and wildlife - though I do love foxes and badgers in the UK)

    1. I hope you love Australia when you get here. I'm going to update this post from time to time when I learn of anywhere new to look for wildlife.

  20. Wow, great list! One of my favourite places for wildlife was the Mackay region - Cape Hillsborough for kangaroos on the beach at sunrise, and Eungella National Park was fantastic for platypuses.

    Also Magnetic Island for koalas (the Forts Walk hike especially), St Kilda pier in Melbourne for fairy penguins, and Etty Bay for cassowaries. :)

    1. Thank you for all the suggestions. I remember seeing koalas on Magnetic Island many years ago. Unfortunately they were so high up in the trees it was difficult to get a good view of them. I have heard from others that Eungella National Park is a good spot to see platypus. I have been there, but only during the middle of the day when they aren't as active.