Australia is a paradise for wildlife lovers, home to many creatures you won't find anywhere else, along with breathtaking settings to view them. In fact, legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough himself said "the most extraordinary place on Earth" can be found in this very land.
Home to the world's oldest rainforest, the largest living thing on the planet (the Great Barrier Reef) and more than 80 per cent of plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs which aren't found anywhere else, Australia is teeming with wildlife and some might say there's no better place on Earth for a wildlife holiday thanks to its one-of-a-kind species and destinations that make Oz a living museum.
A country where you can picnic with kangaroos on the white sand Pebbly Beach, spot extremely shy and mysterious platypuses in the Great Otway National Park and swim with gentle whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, Australia offers an abundance of experiences for every wildlife fan. Adventure travellers will love getting up close to crocs in the Northern Territory, while those who like to watch the animals from afar shouldn't miss the spectacular Penguin Parade on Phillip Island.
With so many animals, plants and nature to explore in every state, you'll want to see it all. Here are some of the best wildlife experiences in Australia...
Australia's amazing wildlife experiences
Australia's amazing wildlife experiences
Visitors to Kangaroo Island can take a boat ride off the northern coast in search of wild dolphins. The thrill-seeking experience allows you to plunge into the wild animals’ natural habitat for a once in a lifetime encounter. During a tour with Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures, it is not a rarity for dolphins to race beside the boat before playing among swimmers in the ocean. You'll take to shallow and protected waters to swim with the bottlenose dolphins, as well as spot seals, sea eagles and view ancient fossil beds while in the boat. The three-hour tour costs $190 (£115) per adult and $110 (£66) per child.
They're not the likeliest of creatures to find in Australia but penguins can be spotted waddling along the beach on Phillip Island at dusk. Native to Australia and the smallest of their species, the 33cm little or fairy penguins leave their burrows around Summerland Beach about an hour before sunrise and swim up to 100km each day before returning at dusk. In their daily parade, the little penguins emerge from the sea as visitors watch from the island's observation boardwalks. Flight Centre offers a Phillip Island Ultimate Eco Tour stopping at an animal sanctuary to see kangaroos, koalas and dingoes, before visiting Churchill Island and Phillip Island for the Penguin Parade. The tour costs from £89 per person.
An experience like no other, swimming with these gentle giants at Ningaloo Reef is one of the best things to do in Australia. Travellers can join a whale shark watching or snorkelling tour from Exmouth or Coral Bay for the ultimate wildlife encounter. Every year, between mid-March and mid-July, the whale sharks of the ocean congregate in the Ningaloo Marine Park following the mass spawning of coral. Harmless to humans, they are the world’s largest species of fish and can grow up to 18 metres in length. Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours offers a Swim with a Whale Shark experience from $395 (£234) per person and $270 (£160) per child.
Australia's Northern Territory is a wild land where brolgas fly across the sunset and huge crocodiles laze on riverbanks. The state is teeming with wildlife and is home to 400 bird species, 150 mammals and 300 reptiles. Exploring its amazing species on Responsible Travel's Northern Territory Wildlife Tour allows you get a close viewing of some of the world's largest crocodiles at the Mary River, walk the spectacular Kakadu National Park and visit special places, such as Mistake Billabong. The six-day trip costs from $3,300 (£1,978) per person, with departures on 14 and 24 August 2017.
Tropical Queensland is a haven for wildlife lovers, offering a wide variety of destinations to explore. Naturetrek's 13-day Queensland holiday focuses on the rich birdlife and unusual nocturnal mammals of Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. You'll look for endemic birds in the rainforest and in the mangroves, search for the great-billed heron and Papuan frogmouth in the Daintree Rainforest, as well as spot butterflies, tree-kangaroos and platypus along the way. The holiday costs from £3,995 per person and the next tour departs on 28 October 2017.
One of the best places to view Australian mammals is Tasmania, where you can spot the likes of kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, wombats, quolls and Tasmanian devils. Offering unique natural history with fabulous wilderness regions, this rugged island boasts endemic birds, dolphins and little penguins. On Naturetrek’s 16-day Tasmania – The Wilderness Isle holiday, the focus is exclusively on the special wildlife found in the spectacular wilderness regions of the island. The trip costs from £5,995 per person and the next tour departs on 8 November 2017.
Combining the best of Queensland’s vibrant wildlife and rich natural habitat, the Australia's Reef & Rainforest tour from Exodus Travels is a genuine adventure for wildlife enthusiasts. You'll explore the underwater environment of the Great Barrier Reef, observing fish, coral, whales and dolphins. You will then enjoy a real Australian encounter in the Atherton Tablelands, home to tree-kangaroos and the rare platypus. Highlights of the trip include visiting the Undara Lava Tubes and Daintree National Park. The 16-day holiday costs from £4,449 per person, with departures in May, June and July 2017.
New to Western Australia for the 2017 humpback migration (July to November) following a successful trial in August 2016 in Coral Bay and Exmouth, visitors will now be able to swim with the approachable giants. The world’s largest humpback whale population (estimated at 30,000) offers Western Australian tourists the chance to interact with the whales from a close distance aboard a boat, or while in the water as they swim past or rest in the temperate Ningaloo waters. Ningaloo Discovery offers a Humpback Whale Interaction Experience on a Luxury Sailing Catamaran tour for $350 (£207) per adult and $280 (£166) per child.
From searching for freshwater crocodiles along the Ord River to looking out for short-eared rock wallabies and fruit bats, a wildlife cruise with Silversea Expeditions takes you to amazing destinations and on exciting guided excursions. A ten-day voyage from Broome to Darwin, allows you to watch the sunrise over the Kimberley Coast, marvel at the Bungle Bungle Range and explore deserted beaches. The cruise includes a programme of unique, small-group shore experiences, such as a river cruise along Ord River in search of crocodiles and a variety of birds, as well as a visit to Montgomery Reef, a semi submerged world home to reef birds, turtles and manta rays. Silversea’s Silver Discoverer departs Darwin on 9 July 2018. The cruise costs from £6,350 per person.
Described by Sir David Attenborough as "the most extraordinary place on Earth," the world's oldest rainforest is a must-visit World Heritage-listed site. Daintree Rainforest invites visitors to trek through the jungle, discover plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet and fly like a bird through the trees on a zip line. Bennett’s and Lumholtz tree-kangaroos, the southern cassowary, the Daintree River ringtail possum and Boyd's forest dragon are some of the unique species you will find in Daintree. The Tour Specialists offers a Daintree Cape Tribulation Jungle Surfing Day Tour from $252 (£151) per person, which includes crossing the Daintree River by barge, zip lining, a guided boardwalk rainforest walk and a Daintree River cruise.