One of the highlights of a trip to Australia is to view some of the Australian native animals. So starting out in Queensland – where can you actually get to see Australian mammals, marsupials and other Australian endemic animals in the wild?
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 03 JAN 2020
On our 10-day trip in Queensland we ended up viewing quite a few of the Australian native animals – incorporating likely places to view them in our planned itinerary. Maybe we were lucky – but we actually managed to see many of the animals we had on our Queensland bucket list – maybe with the exception of crocodiles (which we were not either so sure we really wanted to encounter…)
Where to view the Australian native animals in the wild in Queensland?
Koalas are arboreal marsupials. One of the sublime places to see koalas in the wild is on Magnetic Island just off Townsville. A popular hike on the island is the Forts Walk through the lush eucalyptus forest. Here you are very likely to spot a few koalas lazily resting or sleeping in the tree tops as they do most of the day, or calmly sitting on the branches munching on eucalyptus leaves.
Notice that the Queensland koalas differ a bit from the Victorian koalas since they have thinner fur and also are different in size. The koalas may look a bit like teddy bears – and are absolutely adorable in real life too!
Other locations to spot them further to the south in Queensland are Noosa National Park on the Sunshine Coast and around Brisbane in for example Brisbane Koala Bushlands or in Logan City.
2. Flying foxes
Flying foxes are nomadic mammals. These particular animals can be found in several places in Queensland. It is a protected species since they play a role in the ecosystem. However, they are not always so popular since they, due to their large numbers, are considered a real nuisance in towns – for instance in Townsville. Here you will find numerous camps of flying foxes of the three kinds: spectacled flying fox, black flying fox and little red flying fox. They gather in the trees and wake up at dusk. We were surprised to be overflown in the darkness by a group of them when we got back to Townsville from Magnetic Island.
Also in Cairns city centre we experienced a colony of a vast number of flying foxes dangling from a large tree near Cairns City Library on Lake Street. It was real spectacular.
Nevertheless, the number of flying foxes has gone drastically down during the last years, especially due to heat wiping out one third of the spectacled flying foxes here.
Cassowaries can be found in several places in northeastern Queensland – among other places along the coast around Mission Beach and Etty Bay between Townsville and Cairns. In the Wet Tropics they can in particular be found from Cooktown to Paluma Range. Since the cassowary originally is a tropical rainforest bird, there are also in Daintree rainforest chances to spot the scary bird. It has been known to kill a man, and poses with its dinosaur-like 3-toed giant claws a potential danger to humans and other animals. It is the heaviest existing bird – although the Australian emu is taller.
We made a small detour to Etty Bay to see if we would be lucky. Actually, it didn’t really take long before we caught sights of one near the beach. Keeping at a safe distance we observed it for a long time – and even got to witness that somebody else came a bit too close and was chased several metres by the impressive cassowary!
4. Rock wallabies
We found a group of rock wallabies on Magnetic Island. The rock wallabies are the tiniest kind of ‘kangaroos’. On Magnetic Island they hang out on the rocks at Arcadia on the east side of the island. It is real funny to see them hopping around in their natural habitat – the rocks. We even got a glimpse of one with a joey in her pouch!
The rock wallabies are endemic to Queensland and can be found in a vast area northwest of Townsville, Magnetic Island and Palm Islands included.
The ‘next size of kangaroo’ is the wallaroo (which is in between the wallaby and kangaroo in size). They can be found throughout most of Queensland (and Australia). We came across a few wallaroos on our outback trip to Chillagoe near the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. Just out of town in the woodland between trees and bushes we saw some hopping over the track a little bit away. They were gone again as fast as they appeared! Also the tinier wallabies can be found there, and in particular the rock wallabies thrive around the rocky formations. Also the nearby Granite Gorge Nature Park has large numbers of rock wallabies.
Unfortunately, at the roadside you often spot wallaroos and wallabies that have been incidentally struck by a car and killed.
6. Tree kangaroos
In Australia the tree kangaroos are unique to Queensland. Two species of tree kangaroos are found here in the far north, the Lumholtz’s (found in the rainforest of tropical Queensland, centred on the Atherton Tablelands) and the Bennett’s (found north of the Daintree River). The tree kangaroos have adapted to high-altitude regions. They thrive in the tree tops climbing and jumping around – and are clumsy on the ground.
Nerada Tea Plantation just east of Malanda in the Atherton Tablelands is reputed to have a couple of Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos in the trees on their grounds. We therefore included a visit to Nerada in our itinerary – even if not knowing whether we would really be able to spot any tree kangaroos once there. To our surprise the owner pointed them out to us in some nearby tree tops right after we had arrived! That really made our day!
7. Brush turkeys
At the Millaa Millaa Waterfall south of Malanda we coincidentally came across a handsome brush turkey! We didn’t look for it – it just suddenly appeared right in front of the falls!
It is also called a ‘scrub turkey’ or a ‘bush turkey’. It is a protected species since it plays a role in natural pest management. Its general habitat is the rainforest, but it also inhabits some surburban areas.
Possums can be found in southeastern Queensland. They are protected under the law. As marsupials they carry their babies in a pouch. We didn’t come across a possum in Queensland (but a few weeks later in a Melbourne park where a possum followed us all through the park – hoping for a treat)
One of the rarest mammals in the world is the wombat. In Queensland the northern hairy-nosed wombat is only found in one place – the Epping Forest National Park where there is now a quite limited number of the species. It is a burrowing marsupial mammal that today is critically endangered due to the small number that are left. We didn’t go there while in Queensland (but later on our trip in Sydney’s Taranga Zoo, we did see a sturdy wombat).
Platypuses are mammals. Together with echidnas they are the only mammals that lay eggs! Platypuses can be found in various places around Australia. A good place to spot platypuses in Queensland is the Eungella National Park close to Mackay. Another possibility is at Yungaburra west of Atherton where there is a platypus viewing platform. We were as fortunate as to spot two platypuses at this location. It was, though, not from the platform itself, but from the trail along the river below the bridge. We just walked a few hundred metres and were able to follow two platypuses repeatedly coming up to breathe and then diving again in the water.
Other Australian native animals living in the wild in Queensland we did not get to see
The salt water crocodiles live in estuaries, rivers and swamps in the Australian tropics stretching from Mackay in the south to Cape York in the north. Therefore also the Daintree rainforest is home to the giant crocodiles. When we passed Daintree River by ferry we looked out for crocodiles – but we didn’t spot any! If you want to see Australian native animals like the crocodiles in Queensland in the wild, you can go on a wildlife cruise on the Daintree River.
Echidnas live a bit everywhere in Australia – from arid regions to rainforests, woodlands, grasslands and rocky outcrops. They are able to burrow into the soil. Echidnas are mammals and are together with platypuses the only mammals that lay eggs! They are ant and termite eaters.
The goanna is a predatory lizard living in the northern and eastern parts of Australia. It is quite a large animal with sharp teeth and claws. The goanna lives in open woodlands and grasslands – but can also be found near water, as well as in the desert.
The dingo – Australia’s wild dog – can be found everywhere in Australia except Tasmania, especially in areas of forests and grasslands.
15. Thorny devil dragons
The thorny devil dragon lives in most of arid Australia in dry sand country and scrubland, also in the western Queensland. It has many names as the species is also known as the mountain devil, the thorny lizard, the thorny dragon and the moloch.
16. Inland Taipans
The inland Taipan is also known as the western Taipan. It is endemic to the semi-arid regions of East Australia and lives in the west and southwest of Queensland. It is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, is extremely fast and agile and strikes instantly with overwhelming accuracy. It is not one of the Australian native animals you really want to meet in Queensland in the wild!
Featured image article, attribution: Esmoth
Check also our 10 Days Itinerary Queensland in Australia out:
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