21st Nov 2012 10:15am | By Editor
One of the great drawcards for those visiting Australia is, of course, its slightly bizarre wildlife. There are, put simply, a bunch of weird creatures out here that you’d struggle to conceive of elsewhere in the world.
There are ones that bite and ones that bounce and a few that just look like someone’s idea of a practical joke. Either way, there are some cracking trips to be had if you’re prepared to go looking for them.
It’s true that the further you travel and the more remote the destination, the more likely you are to spot Australia’s crazy creatures in their natural habitat, but you don’t actually have to go to the ends of the Earth. For example, if you’re over in Perth, it’s no hassle at all to jump on a ferry and get across to Rottnest Island, where the bizarre little quokkas are protected and stroll around like they’re kings of the castle. That’s right, quokkas – it sounds like a ridiculous wind-up invented by Aussies to fool tourists. But these odd little miniature wallabies are real.
If you like your animals with a bit more menace, then head north to the top end, where you’ll encounter plenty of crocodiles. Don’t get too close, though, as crocs are seriously lethal and won’t think twice about taking a chunk out of you. A great way to see them in their element is to take a tour along the Adelaide River – a baited hook gets hung over the side of the boat and the crocs come rushing over before being enticed to jump out of the water for a feed. Their power and sheer predatory guile is something you’ll never forget after you’ve seen them in action.
On your way back to civilisation, you may as well stop through South Australia, where Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island remain among the country’s most spectacular intriguing destinations.
In Port Lincoln, for example, you’ll be able to go cage-diving with the local great white sharks, while Kangaroo Islands has a stack of marine life – no, it’s not just kangaroos.
If you’re really up for a once in a lifetime experience, though, maybe you should start planning a trip to Western Australia where every March to July you have the chance to swim or dive with the majestic whale sharks.
Turn the page for more animalistic bucket list experiences.
Go big or go home. This coastal wilderness park, named after the Aboriginal people that lived here, stretches out over 100 kilometres and features rainforest, eucalyptus forest and heath land, with camping spots along the coast that are perfect for long walks along the beach, fishing and bird-watching.
Victoria’s parks are home to 4,300 native plants and almost a thousand different species of animals and Mallacoota Inlet, about five hours’ drive east of Melbourne, is the biggest and most accessible area of Croajingalong.
Another spot worth visiting is Thurra, where you’ll find the highest sand dunes on the mainland. You’ll run into plenty of wildlife in the park, such as huge goannas, emus, koalas, kangaroos and wallabies.
On Queensland’s Capricorn Coast, tourists get a unique opportunity to get up close an personal with turtles.
Mon Repos, by Bundaberg, boasts the Southern Hemisphere’s largest nesting population of loggerhead turtles, while Lady Elliot also enjoys an active season, with green and hawksbill turtles in abundance. Plus, the island’s surrounding reef, which you can paddle to straight from the beach, enjoys a large manta ray population, which swells to several hundred during the winter mating season.
Turtle Season runs from November to March each year with the turtles arriving on the beach to lay their eggs. Around six weeks later the eggs hatch and hundreds of tiny little turtles emerge from the sand and scurry down to the ocean. Amazing!