From the Great Barrier’s spectacular coral system to the dewy forests of Daintree, our 10 best places to see wildlife in Australia reveal the iconic and unusual Australian animals inhabiting the country's territories, national parks, and islands.
You can cross the sparkling Coral Sea and snorkel around the collection of reefs to see clownfish and swim with manta rays, or follow the trails through Great Otway to see kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Each Australian wildlife hotspot opens the doors to adventure alongside furry, feathered, and scaled creatures.
In this guide on where to see wildlife in Australia, we share recommendations in Queensland, Western Australia, and more popular regions in which to keep your eyes peeled on your Australian wildlife tour.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world, made up of thousands of individual reefs where marine life thrives in and around its coral homes.
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef’s secret islands and popular reefs, you can snorkel or swim in pursuit of your favorite marine creatures. Cruise liners and luxury yachts glide to the Whitsunday Islands, Fitzroy Island, Lizard Island, and more, anchoring close to neighboring reefs or guiding travelers to sensational diving spots where marine activity is on full display.
Among the many creatures you will encounter, be on the lookout for the Great Barrier Reef’s Great 8, including clownfish, sharks, giant clams, and more. These are just a few of the magnificent creatures that call the Great Barrier Reef home.
Wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef: Clownfish • Giant clams • Potato cod • Sharks • Maori wrasse
Learn more: Great Barrier Reef Tours & Vacations
A short sail from Perth’s coastline lies Rottnest Island, the home of Australia’s friendly quokkas. The island shelters thousands of these smiling, furry creatures, with no natural predators lurking to threaten their survival.
Traveling to Rottnest, you will be hard-pressed not to find quokkas on a day out exploring. They spring up along the shoreline and peek out from behind the shrubbery. Other than quokkas, the vibrant Rottnest Island ecosystem is a bird sanctuary rife with fairy terns, red-necked stints, and osprey that nest at Salmon Point and other areas of the island.
One of the best ways to see the wildlife of Rottnest is during cycling tours as the island is one the most popular cycling destinations in Australia. You might even spot blue whales and fur seals from coastal viewing platforms during your cycle around the island.
Wildlife in Rottnest Island: Quokkas • Fairy terns • Red-necked stints • Ospreys • Fur seals
Cradle Mountain is one of the most dreamy places in Australia for couples, its appeal largely a result of the epic and remote natural environments where travelers can explore to spot wombats, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, possums, and other iconic Australian wildlife.
Australia safari tours following expert guides in Cradle Mountain can show you the marvelous animals in their natural habitats as you follow their tracks or let the rustling bushes give away their position. From moss-covered rainforests to tranquil lakes, the varied landscapes present unique viewing opportunities you can plan around when visiting.
You can enjoy the peace and quiet at Dove Lake as echidnas scuttle across the pathways or cross the boardwalk in search of wallabies snoozing on the ferns.
Wildlife in Cradle Mountain: Wombats • Wallabies • Tasmanian devils • Possums • Echidnas
Exploring Kangaroo Island on vacation, you can expect to see roos bouncing across the park or visit cuddly koalas in sanctuaries that protect Australia’s famous furry friends.
Kangaroo Island and all its wildlife experiences are the reason it is one of the iconic places in Australia to visit, and travelers adore opportunities to get up close with several endemic species, including wallabies, possums, and the rare sooty dunnart.
Kangaroo Island is a hotspot for families visiting Australia, with many activities, including kangaroo tours and birding, available for all ages when planning your Australia family tour.
Wildlife in Kangaroo Island: Kangaroos • Koalas • Wallabies • Possums • Sooty dunnart
Australia’s laidback coastal town, Mission Beach, is a gateway to the Cassowary Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. Aptly named the Cassowary Coast, you can expect to find the endangered cassowaries crossing the shores and heading into the forests nearby Mission Beach.
The unusual-looking birds are a fascinating sight, attracting families to the shores of Mission Beach for a chance to spot them on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Mission Beach’s proximity to national parks, the greater Cairns region, and the Great Barrier Reef means you can double down on your wildlife-viewing escapades by combining a forest walk or snorkeling trip.
From watching the birds soar over waterfalls to peering beneath the ocean’s surface to find colorful schools of fish, Mission Beach is a treasure trove of wilderness activity.
Wildlife in Mission Beach: Cassowaries • Hercules moths • Ulysses butterflies • Possums • Pademelons
Ningaloo Reef, awarded Unesco heritage, is one of Australia’s crown jewels of marine discovery, inviting travelers to submerge themselves in the depths of the sea to spot the wondrous sea life swimming between the coral reefs and shore.
Ningaloo Reef also boasts some of Australia’s best beaches, and travelers can make a day of sunbathing on the golden shores before cruising to diving hotspots and getting a closer look at the whale sharks, green turtles, and manta rays gliding with the swell.
As one of the best adventure destinations in Australia, Ningaloo Reef will impress with viewing experiences that range from casual snorkeling trips to extreme scuba-diving expeditions, kayaking, swimming, and more.
Wildlife in Ningaloo Reef: Whale sharks • Green turtles • Manta rays • Whales • Dolphins
Queensland’s Fraser Island is another of Australia’s Unesco-listed destinations, with a stunning bay drenched in sunlight on a good day opening travelers up to the remote coastal beauty of Australia’s less-visited island gems.
On the island, you can come into contact with dingos, while in the sea you can snorkel with dugongs. The two iconic Australian creatures are unusual and remarkable, and sightings are a reward for taking the time to visit Australia’s sensational Fraser Island.
You can also swim with turtles and manta rays or stand on the edge of the coast to see migrating humpback whales leaping out of the water. Every day presents new wildlife-spotting opportunities in Fraser Island.
Wildlife in Fraser Island: Dingos • Dugongs • Dolphins • Turtles • Humpback whales
Montague Island, often referred to as Barunguba, is a wildlife conservation area as sustainable as it is beautiful, educating travelers on the Australian wilderness and environments, while offering exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities.
The island’s famous wildlife, including whales, orcas, dolphins, and fur seals, will draw you in, and the rich history will keep you enthralled. As you watch large pods of dolphins surf the waves or see colonies of seals lounging on the sun-baked rocks, guides share insight into the island’s cultural importance to indigenous history and what makes this wildlife sanctuary unique.
Montague Island is off the beaten path, but well worth a visit if wildlife viewing with a cause is at the heart of your adventure in Australia.
Wildlife in Montague Island: Whales • Orcas • Dolphins • Fur seals • Penguins
Great Otway National Park protects the greatest concentration of koalas in Australia. Covering part of the famous Great Ocean Road, Great Otway and its abundance of koalas is an exceptional addition to your Australian wildlife tour for endless natural beauty.
You can wander through the forests beneath emerald canopies and head to the windswept coastline, all the while enjoying encounters with koalas, wallabies, echidnas, seals, penguins, and more Australian animals. Kangaroos are also a popular sighting in Great Otway, with guides leading Australia kangaroo safaris through the park.
With adventure tours available all over the national park, you will be spoiled for choice with options to see wildlife from the coastal shores to the thick of the forests.
Wildlife in Great Otway: Koalas • Wallabies • Echidnas • Seals • Penguins
Queensland is a wildlife lover's paradise and Daintree Rainforest is not only one of the territory's most iconic destinations, but also among the best national parks to explore in Australia.
The dense rainforest, rife with endemic wildlife and rare animals and birds, encourages travelers to wander endlessly along the forest trails between ancient trees. Kangaroos leap between the park’s regions, cassowaries circle the forest floor, crocodiles wade in the rivers, and you might find tiger quoll climbing along the branches.
Daintree Rainforest is rich with wildlife experiences and encounters are frequent, with guides helping you track the Australian animals you wish to see most.
Wildlife in Daintree Rainforest: Kangaroos • Cassowaries • Crocodiles • Tiger quoll • Possums
Whether searching for popular Australian animals like koalas and kangaroos or traveling off the beaten path to spot Australia’s unusual wildlife, you can enjoy the natural splendors and the beauty of the Australian wilderness on Australia tours and vacations to any of these best places to see wildlife.
For more insight on travel in Australia and to find out everything you need to know as you plan your wildlife adventure, explore tips and advice in our Australia travel guide.