Talking with the animals

Australia is a land of extraordinary native wildlife. Our unique and diverse fauna attracts visitors from far and wide; international tourists flock to our shores to cuddle a koala, get their picture taken with a kangaroo or get up close with the elusive Tassie devil.

If you haven’t gotten out and about to experience firsthand our beautiful wildlife, the upcoming school holidays might be the time to embark on a nature appreciation adventures with the kids.

Here are a few ideas to get you inspired.

Cuddle a koala at Lone Pine

Koalas are Australia’s most famous inhabitants and what better place to get cuddly with one than the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary? Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a Brisbane icon and conveniently located just 12 kilometres from the CBD. Cuddling a koala is a never-ending source of delight for both local and international tourists but most importantly, Lone Pine provides refuge to an Australian icon whose habitat is increasingly at risk from deforestation.

Get up close with a quokka on Rotness Island

If Chris Hemsworth is keen to take a selfie with you, you know you’re doing ok. The quokka is arguably Australia’s most intriguing native animal and can be found on beautiful Rotness Island  in Western Australia. Take the comfortable 90 minute ferry ride from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and head out mid to late afternoon on a guided walk or self-guided tour and marvel at these beautifully curious creatures.

Swim with marine life on the Great Barrier Reef

Whether you be an experienced diver or an avid amateur snorkeller, there are plenty of opportunities for a close encounter with Australia’s stunning marine life on the Great Barrier Reef Popular spots from which to embark on an underwater adventure on the Reef include the Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Green Island off Cairns and Port Douglas. If you’re new to the sea, hop on a guided tour with local experts to find the best spots for spotting brightly coloured fish and rays.

Spot a Humpback Whale at Hervey Bay

There are numerous places along Australia’s east coast from which you may spot humpback whales on the annual migration from Antarctica to the tropics. However, the best and most famous place to see these magnificent creatures is Hervey Bay on Queensland’s Fraser Coast. Here, the whales take a break to frolic in the waters just off the coast between late July and early November, with the whales staying here for up to 10 days. If you’re game for a true close encounter, book a swimming experience with an approved tour operator.

Meet a Tasmanian devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

With an appearance and personality to match its cheeky name, the Tasmanian devil, or Tassie devil for short, is a popular resident of Australia’s most southern state. There are plenty of places on the ‘Apple Isle’  to get up close and personal with the nocturnal devil. Try the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located a short 30 minute drive north of Hobart and is the most easily accessible location from the capital. Help feed these mysterious creatures on a Feeding Frenzy Tour or the Bonorong Night Tour and learn about the park’s conservation efforts to keep the Tasmanian devil from becoming extinct.

Bounce with kangaroos on the Great Ocean Road

Victoria’s beautiful Great Ocean Road region is known for its stunning coastal scenery but many people may not know that it’s also one of the best places in Victoria to spot a kangaroo. You’re sure to see large swarths of ‘roos along Australia’s most famous road; try the golf course in Anglesea, Great Otway National Park, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, Bells Beach or Princetown.

Smile at the crocodiles in Darwin

For a hair-raising encounter with one of Australia’s most feared predators, head to Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of Darwin. Take part in a croc-feeding show, hold a baby croc or swim in the Cove’s  unique, glass pool side by side with the resident. If you’re feeling especially brave, take a swim with a salty in the famed Cage of Death, Australia’s only crocodile dive experience.

So there you have it. There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with your favourite Aussie animals this school holidays. Can’t decide where to go? With Virgin Australia’s range of great value domestic fares, tripping around Australia with the family is within reach. Your only real dilemma will be deciding where to go first.



Words by Rebecca Walker. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland - Published 9 September 2019
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