Australia

How to find amazing Western Australian native animals

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Western Australia is home to plenty of critters and creatures.

Because of its isolation, much of the country’s wildlife is endemic. There are marsupials that nurture their young in pouches and other iconic animals to stand by and watch in their natural habitat.

Whether you’re a local or an international tourist, WA’s native animals are a part of almost all Aussie adventures. Here’s how you can find some of Australia’s local wildlife depending on your WA holiday destination.

Where to find Western Australian native animals

Quokkas

Rottnest Island

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If you’re looking to friend one of the happiest native Australian animals, then head to Rottnest Island for the Quokkas.

Because these creatures evolved with a lack of predators, they lack common survival skills such as fear. This absence of fear makes them highly friendly, curious and approachable.

Although there are only 10,000-12,000 Quokkas living on Rotto, the island has the largest known population. However, Rotto’s habitat and the reduction of logging in WA are crucial for their survival.

If you’d prefer to stay on the mainland but still see the cute animals, the Tingle Forest in Walpole-Nornalup National Park is also home to a community of Quokkas. Try to head into the forest close to sunset for the best chance to see them!

Where to stay

Hire a bungalow or stay in a heritage chalet with ocean views. Here are some accommodation options to book.

Alternatively, if you’re heading down the southwest coast of Western Australia to find Quokkas, book a luxurious stay at Walpole Rest Point Caravan Park.

Kangaroos

Pinnaroo Memorial Park or Lucky Bay

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One of Australia’s most common marsupials, kangaroos can be found across WA at dawn or dusk. To increase your chances of seeing a wild Skippy, Pinnaroo Memorial Park and Cemetery is the closest hot-spot to Perth.

If you prefer coastal adventures, head to Lucky Bay – a string of beaches 45-minutes drive east from Esperance. Kangaroos commonly lay on the white sand here and collect in large mobs. Head into Esperance whilst you’re in the area for more beaches to add to Australia’s best beach list.

Where to stay

Check out Esperance Bay’s family-friendly caravan park. It’s a 5-minute walk to the town centre, with swimming spots and marine life close by. If you can extend the holiday, visit Albany for the local humpback, southern right and blue whales. Stay at Walpole Rest Point along the way, which is in the heart of the wilderness and nearby Nornalup Marine Park.

Echidnas

Bibbulman Track

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Echidnas like kangaroos have a pouch to carry their young inside. But they differ in their spikier, slow-moving and smaller features, weighing only about 2-5 kilograms.

To get a glimpse, head to Kalamunda and explore the Bibbulman track – a 1,000km trail through the native forest which is home to echidnas. These world-class diggers may be sluggish movers, but they’re an important part of our ecosystems. Fun fact: the spines of an echidna are actually hairs, which they use for protection when under threat. Echidnas are also covered in short fur to keep them warm under the spines.

Where to stay

Go all out in charming 100-year-old rail carriages or self-contained cottages.

Bottlenose Dolphins

Bunbury, Margaret River and Shark Bay

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There are 16 different species of dolphins in WA but the Bottlenose is the most seen.

To get up close and personal with these curious creatures, visit Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre or Koombana Bay, Monkey Mia in Shark Bay or in the surf of Margaret River beaches. Bottlenose dolphins are usually spotted in small groups of less than ten. They can travel at speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour and are very playful and sociable.

Where to stay

Margaret River Tourist Park is in the heart of the action. Choose from cottages, cabins or caravan and camping sites.

Koalas

Yanchep

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These cuddly critters are all throughout Australia but are mostly found in coastal areas and the east of the country.

Find them in eucalyptus trees, where they spend up to 19 hours a day sleeping. Although they are more wild koalas over east than in WA, you watch them laze around at Yanchep National Park. If you want to snuggle one, there’s a list of wildlife places for a koala-hug here.

Where to stay

Yanchep is only a 40-minute drive from Perth, making it ideal for a day trip.

Whale Sharks

Ningaloo Reef

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Between March and July, when whale shark season is at its peak, you can swim with these giant beasts on the Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth.

Whale sharks are harmless to humans. Instead, they are vegetarians and feed only on plankton and krill occasionally. These gentle giants can measure up to 13 metres and are easily recognisable with their mottled-patterned skin, large flattened heads and blunt snouts.

Where to stay

On the drive to Exmouth, visit Geraldton and Horrocks Beach for waterfront accommodation and more marine life and local WA animals. Stay on WA’s coral coast at Geraldton Belair Gardens Caravan Park or go quiet coastal for a relaxing getaway at Horrocks Beach Caravan Park.

The Little Penguin

Carnac and Penguin Island

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These tiny flightless seabirds stand at about 30-35cm in height. When fully grown, they weigh approximately one kilogram.

The Little Penguin is the only penguin species that breeds in Australia. Although they’re mostly found mostly on Phillip Island in Victoria, you’ll see them on Carnac Island off Fremantle and Penguin Island near Rockingham in WA.

Also known as the Fairy Penguin, their backs have a distinct blue tinge, with younger penguins being bluer than adults.

Where to stay

Although they are close to the public later afternoon, the islands are easily assessable by private boat, ferry or walking across the sandbar. Local tourist places will offer day trips to both. But, the island can be closed due to bad weather or for the winter penguin nesting season in September.

Australian Sea Lions

Jurien Bay

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Head to Jurien Bay for the endangered Australian sea lions.

So sporadic now, these ‘sea puppies’ are the world’s rarest species, with less than 12,000 left. For the best chance, Jurien Bay is their main breeding ground, a 2.5-hour drive from Perth.

Although it can be relatively easy to swim near these marine lions, you should never try to touch them. Expect to see them in large groups though, sunbaking or playing in the waters.

Where to stay

Jurien Bay is another easy day trip from Perth. However, if you need an excuse to stay longer, the Jurien Bay Tourist Park is on the coast and close to all local attractions.

Western Australia is one of the world’s best places to explore native wildlife. Want more information for your travels? Follow our blog for our latest adventures and tips.