5 Best Places in Australia for Epic Animal Encounters 32

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Australia is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. And with great cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and the ever famous Great Barrier Reef, it’s no wonder. But another reason why many travelers arrive en mass to this Southern continent is its very unique wildlife. With a population density of around 2 people for every square kilometer (and with most of those people packed into cities on the coast), the wildlife has had lots of room to flourish.

Anyone visiting one of Australia‘s cities can see the more famous creatures at one of the countries many zoos, but those willing to venture a little further afield will be rewarded with some pretty epic wild life encounters.

The following list will take you around the continent, starting in the north, to some pretty incredible places where you can meet some incredible creatures.

Kangaroo in Australia

Try to not become a meal for crocodiles in Darwin

Salt water crocodiles are as nasty as their reputation implies. They are an apex predator, widely distributed in both salt and fresh water in the northern regions of Australia, and aren’t adverse to making a meal of humans. So if the sign says “don’t swim,” then you probably shouldn’t swim. But if you want to meet some salties on your own terms, then you have a couple of options.

To see crocs in the wild, your best bet is to go on one of the “jumping croc” tours that depart from Darwin. You will get to go on a boat ride where they dangle chunks of meat from the boat. The crocs literally propel themselves out of the water for this easy meal. You should probably keep all your limbs inside the boat for this one.

If you are in the water and see a salt water crocodile approaching… well it will probably be the last thing you see… unless you are at the Crocosaurus Cove in downtown Darwin. Here you can book yourself a time in the “cage of death,” where you will be locked inside a plexiglass cage and lowered down into the water with a couple of salt water crocodiles. It is not uncommon for the crocs to try to attack the cage. I must have been too skinny and must not have looked worth the effort, though, because they all completely ignored me.

Swim with whale sharks in Ningaloo

Imagine you are bouncing around in a boat in the open seas off the coast of Western Australia. Suddenly the crew shout “everyone in!” You grab your snorkel and fins and hop off the side of the boat to suddenly be swimming alongside the largest fish in the ocean. The whale shark is so graceful and calm that you might not even register at first that it is over 13 meters (nearly 43 feet) long.

Swimming with whale sharks is a rare experience to have, and it can only be done in a few countries around the world. Between the months of April and July, the whale sharks migrate past the waters of Ningaloo and you will have a chance to swim with these amazing creatures.

Boats depart daily from the Australian towns of Coral Bay and Exeter. Most companies have their own spotter planes in the air, which greatly increase your chances of getting to swim with a few different individuals.

Come face to face with great white sharks in Port Lincoln

Cage diving with great white sharks in Australia

About a seven hour drive from the state capitol of Adelaide in South Australia is the small fishing town of Port Lincoln. This is the best place in Australia to see the king of the ocean – the Great White Shark. Tours depart early in the morning and run for the full day where you will get several opportunities to be lowered into a cage with some scuba gear and a bunch of curious sharks. When we went, there were eight different Great Whites circling the cage and some even came up to have a nibble.

Dodge kangaroos on Kangaroo Island

It’s named that for a reason. In fact, there are so many kangaroos and wallabies on Kangaroo Island that the car rental company warned us not to drive as dusk or dawn. This is one of the best places to see kangaroos in the wild. We would be driving past fields and would see dozens of ‘roos grazing in the morning.

Kangaroo Island is not only a great place to see kangaroos, but you can also see seals, penguins, and pelicans here.

Meet up with a dingo on Fraser Island

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, and is one of the best places to see relatively pure-blood dingoes. The islands isolation has reduced the instances of interbreeding between domesticated dogs and the dingo population, and no dogs are allowed on the island. The dingos here are relatively used to having people around, and often hang out on the sandy beaches, making them easy to spot and photograph. However please be warned that interacting with or feeding a dingo will come with a hefty fine, and that fed dingos often have to be put down as they later pose a threat to humans.



About the Author

Jade Johnston blogs about all things travel at OurOyster.com. She likes to write helpful guides for the places she visits to help others realize their travel dreams – on a budget. All this while navigating international travel with a baby. You can also connect with her on social media. Take your pick of Facebook, Twitter @our_oyster, Pinterest, or Google+.

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32 thoughts on “5 Best Places in Australia for Epic Animal Encounters

  • Ruann @ Solo Travel Uncut

    Absolutely loved this article. I used to dislike people [laughs], in those dark times I traveled for different animals in different countries, not the people. It has alway been a dream of mine to dive with whale sharks. I have been incredibly lucky to see a humpback whale swimming by underneath me though, when I worked in rural Mozambique, Africa. It was magical,

    • Jade Johnston

      That sounds awesome! What were you working as? My husband had the opportunity to swim with Humpback whales in Tonga (one of the only places – if not THE only place in the world – where you can do that.) We also saw some Humpbacks breaching and playing on our recent trip to Canada – so amazing!

      • Ruann @ Solo Travel Uncut

        As assistant manager and dive instructor. I Also did the whale watching tours on a weekly basis over there. As you probably know, encountering these majestic creatures leaves one in a speechless state of awe. Some of my best memories involve those waters.

        Your husband must have had quite an experience, it sounds incredible! – oh the wonders of traveling off the beaten path.

        Just discovered “Our oyster”: loved it on first glance and can’t wait get lost in your archives!

        • Jade Johnston

          I bet you would have seen a lot of amazing things as a dive instructor! I have always played with the idea of learning how to scuba dive. I tried it once but felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. I’m sure you learn how to master that over time though.

          I’m glad you have liked OurOyster! I have also just discovered your blog as well. Loving your photo essay on the children of Africa!

  • Jon From Scuba Diving Costa Rica

    Would love to get to Australias west coast to see the whale sharks. Not all about the cage diving with Great Whites. If the owner of this blog ever decides to stop hating Costa Rica, I can line him up with a great place there to dive with bull sharks!

    • Jade Johnston

      Hi Jon! I hope the diving with bull sharks is in a cage as well! I think I would be more scared of them than Great Whites! Bull sharks are responsible for a lot of the deaths to swimmers and surfers in Australia, and the scariest thing is that they also live in fresh water and can even be in the rivers. EEP!

  • Tom

    Australia is also on my list… Someday I will travel there but before I want to visit the Far East and Western Asia 🙂
    Swimming with the sharks must be a terrifying experience but I’d love to try it!!

    • Jade Johnston

      Thats awesome that you are moving to Australia! Is it just for a year or two? Make sure you budget at least a few months to really travel the country – it is huge and there is tons to do!

    • Jade Johnston

      Fraser Island is definitely the best place to see them. I also saw some wild dingo in the desert of Australia, but Fraser Island has a much larger population across a smaller land mass

  • Ele

    Great post! I was struggling to decide where to head travel next this year and you have inspired me to spend some more time exploring my home country.

  • Helen

    What a great list!

    I’m in love with sharks, especially great whites and dived with then in South Africa. One of the best experiences ever!

    • Jade Johnston

      There are loads of places you can do that actually! Most animal parks or zoos have open enclosures where you can walk around with the kangaroos and feed them as well

  • Ross

    Great list. I so wanted to swim with the whale sharks and the great whites but I was just out of season with the whale sharks and couldnt get to Port Lincoln in my timeframe. Luckily I have managed to see whale sharks since but the Great Whites are still on my list.

    • Jade Johnston

      I’m glad you eventually got to see whale sharks… it is such a rare experience to have and so amazing. Port Lincoln is a bit of a trek, but totally worth it for the Great Whites. Next time !

  • Michael

    Best place to see Kangaroos we find is in WA. Up in the north of the state you will see hundreds as you drive at dusk or dawn. They tend to be the smaller variety, while down south you won’t find as many but boy do they grow them big down that way!

  • San Urdanibia

    Swimming with Great White Sharks is very dangers. I do not want to get this experience. I think Kangaroo Island will be best option for epic animal encounters.

    • Jade Johnston

      It can be dangerous! Just make sure you are with a reputable company. I think most of the ones in Australia are pretty safe, but it still would be really scary!

  • Britney McSweeney

    That cage of death sounds absolutely terrifying and for sure something I want to do someday!

  • Claire

    I know this is not as thrilling as the amazing encounters you listed, but I was very excited when I spotted a platypus in the wild during the day! It surfaced 5 times in front of me and disappeared when the rest of the group arrived.
    I was on a special day tour to see wildlife in the wild from Sydney and was very lucky! Although later on the 4WD got stuck 🙁

    • Jade Johnston

      WOW! WOW! WOW! Believe me Claire, if I saw a platypus in the wild it would DEFINITELY be on this list!!! It is just such a rare thing though – not many people ever get so lucky. The animal encounters I listed are all a little more reliable to spot 🙂

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