7 bucket-list wildlife experiences in Australia

Australia is home to unique animal life found nowhere else in the world.


These incredible wildlife experiences give you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the country’s most iconic and rare species, a memory you will carry with you forever.


Reef Magic Pontoon © Tourism and Events Queensland


Swim with the great eight


The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic Aussie location stretching 2,300 km along the coast. While Africa may have its Big Five animals, this ocean habitat is home to the Great Eight; clownfish, giant clams, manta rays, maori wrasse, potato cod, sharks, turtles and whales.

Here, there are plenty of tour companies that offer single or multi-day snorkelling experiences, each with their own unique opportunities to get up close to these colourful marine creatures.

However, Reef Magic has just launched a new pontoon, designed to hold 450 guests while it floats on the edge of the reef. From here, there are plenty of activities to choose from including a Guided Snorkel Safari led by expert marine biologist, scuba diving, or even helmet diving. On a guided circuit, helmet divers will swim alongside a vibrant array of ocean flora and fauna. For less confident swimmers, the glass bottom boat also offers views to the reef below.



Trek the desert with a Camel


At Beltana Station in South Australia, visitors have the chance to join a camel trek through the Tirari Desert. Stretching 15,000 square kilometres, the desert is unlike anything you’ve seen before and offers ample chances to camp under the stars.

You can choose to join any 4-9 day experience, led by a knowledgeable team who will point out birdlife, flora and fauna as you go. Each morning, guests are invited to learn how to care for the camels, including skills such as feeding and saddling up, before heading off on a day of riding. The cameleers will be with you every step of the way, ensuring the camels are safe and cooking delicious meals to enjoy around the campfire.

Camel Trek owners Paul and Karen have always had a love for camels, which shines through in their friendly and sustainable approach to the business.



Date a meerkat


Walkabout Park Wildlife Sanctuary in Calga was established to care for sick and endangered animals for release back into the wild. Home to 180 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs, it is known as Australia’s largest operational wildlife sanctuary for good reason.

Visitors are encouraged to learn more about all the animals here, although the meerkat experience is a highlight. There are three options to choose from; a 10 minute speed date, a 20 minute date and tour of the enclosure, or a 30 minute date and opportunity to help the meerkat ranger in their daily tasks.

For anyone wishing to spend more time in the ranger’s shoes, Walkabout Park also offers a ranger-for-a-day experience, where guests work alongside the rangers as they complete activities such as feeding animals, checking their health, providing enrichment activities to keep the animals happy and more.


wildlife experiences
The Penguin Parade


Watch a penguin parade


Phillip Island is an island sanctuary just 90 minutes drive from Melbourne. Here, you will discover breathtaking beaches, coastal views and family-friendly activities bound to put a smile on everyone’s face. Aside from its reputation as a fantastic day trip, Phillip Island is also home to the largest Little Penguin Colony in the world.

The specially-built viewing platforms allow guests clear sight of the penguins as they arrive from the ocean in the evening and head to their burrows. Or, for an even better view of these adorable animals, the underground viewing bunker is perfect for ‘peering out from a burrow’ and watching the penguins at eye level.

On the Ultimate Adventure tour, you will be taken to a secluded beach away from the crowds at the Penguin Parade to watch Little Penguins while listening to informative commentary from a tour guide. High tech vision scopes even allow you to see the penguins after dark!


Devils @ Cradle © Laura Helle


Meet a Tasmanian Devil


Devils @ Cradle is a wildlife conservation facility primarily concerned with protecting the Tasmanian Devil, located on the edge of the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park.

Whether watching from the visitors centre, walking through the sanctuary facilities or taking part in a tour, here you will have the unparalleled opportunity to see these beautiful endangered animals up close.

Keeper Tours operate daily, inviting guests to join a keeper as they lead you through the facility and explain the conservation efforts currently underway. On a Joey Encounter, you can meet and pat a young devil, while on an After Dark Feeding Tour, you can watch the devils in action as you learn about their biology, behaviour and threats.

By joining any of these tours, you will be supporting these animals and keeping the facility operating.


Koala encounter © Tourism and Events Queensland


Cuddle a Koala


Established in 1970, the Australia Zoo has become an institution on the Sunshine Coast, spanning over 700 acres. The zoo is also home to a wildlife hospital that rehabilitates over 7000 native animals annually.

There are plenty of experiences on offer here, such as the famous tiger talks, however nothing compares to the fun of cuddling a koala. Snap a picture with these furry Aussie icons while keepers answer all your burning questions and talk you through the importance of protecting the koalas’ natural habitats.


wildlife experiences
Iris Lodge Alpacas © Destination NSW


Enjoy breakfast with an Alpaca


First opened in 2020, Iris Lodge Alpacas is a working farm located on the Central Coast in NSW and home to more than 100 alpacas, 9 llamas and several sheep, cows and horses. It is also an ecological sanctuary that focuses on solar energy, waste management and the use of rainwater to promote sustainability.

On a two and a half hour alpaca breakfast experience, you will share a delicious meal with several friendly alpacas while gazing out over the stunning farm surrounds. Dine on bacon, eggs and fresh yoghurt, before feeding the alpacas using a special alpaca mix and learning about their unique personalities along the way. You’ll also get to meet sheep, llamas and dogs when you visit here.

For a complete guide to Australia’s best nature and wildlife experiences, click here.

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