If there is one thing Australia does notably well, it is beaches. A close second on the list would have to be our wildlife. Combine the two together and you have an awesome family day trip or camping adventure in some of the most beautiful natural environments in the world. Read on for our favourite beach wildlife encounters.
Pebbly Beach, NSW – Kangaroos
This Shoalhaven haven in Murramarang National Park makes for some pretty stunning photographs. The photogenic roos can be seen on the grass right on the sand. Murramarang was severely devastated by the 2019-2020 bushfires, so large areas are closed to the public. Keep your eyes peeled for its reopening. Cape Hillsborough in Queensland is another great kangaroo-friendly beach.
Read more: The best of Australia’s beaches
Coffin Bay, SA – Emus
The other half of our national crest can be found strutting its stuff on the Eyre Peninsula. Long Beach, at the national park entrance, is your best bet. If you don’t spot the native bird, then look out for their footprints in the sand. Farm Beach and Almonta Beach – also in Coffin Bay National Park – are worth visiting in their own right.
Port Lincoln, SA – Great white sharks
Also on the Eyre Peninsula, just off the coast, awaits a far deadlier beach wildlife encounter. Join a charter boat tour to do a cage dive or glass submarine trip to see great whites – if you dare! You can also go swimming with sea lions, thanks to Adventure Bay Charters.
Exmouth, WA – Whale sharks
From one extreme to the other, go for a swim beside the gentle giants of the Ningaloo Reef. Don’t let the name fool you. Whale sharks might get up to 10 metres long, but they much prefer plankton to humans! The season runs from March to September.
Jurien Bay, WA – Sea lions
Further down south on the Coral Coast, you might just spot a sunbaking sea lion on the sands of Jurien Bay Marine Park. Otherwise, join a boat from Jurien Bay to snorkel beside them.
Hamelin Bay, WA – Stingrays
Rays are used to being fed by local fishermen in the shallows of Hamelin Bay. You hardly even have to get your feet wet to spot them. If swimming is more your style, you can glide with manta rays near Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
Lady Musgrave Island, QLD – Bird life
This remote island, with limited guest numbers, is also teeming with beach wildlife. Wedge-tailed shearwaters, mutton birds and black noddies come to roost in the thick vegetation, and turtles hatch on the shores. We chatted with Natalie for the kid’s perspective on wildlife on Lady Musgrave.
For another island-bound Queensland bird-watching experience, read up on all the feathered friends roosting on Great Keppel Island.
Bundaberg, QLD – Turtles
Mon Repos would have to be the country’s turtle capital and one of the best spots for beach wildlife encounters. The region is popular with loggerhead mothers, who lay and hatch their eggs on the sand. Mon Repos Turtle Centre shares more great information.
Fraser Island, QLD – Dingoes
75 Mile Beach is the main stretch of sand on an altogether sandy island – the world’s largest, in fact. Fraser Island or K’gari is famous for its dingo population. Perhaps a pest for campers, these wild dogs make for an exciting beach wildlife encounter when they emerge onto the beaches at dusk.
Moreton Island, QLD – Dolphins
Tangalooma Beach welcomes pods of wild dolphins in daily. Tangalooma Island Resort runs a dolphin feeding session you can partake in, as well as sharing some great information about these clever creatures.
Warrnambool, VIC – Southern right whales
Warrnambool beaches such as Logans Beach turn into prime whale-watching vantage points from June to September. During these months, Southern right whales can be spotted with their calves from the viewing platform.
Phillip Island, VIC – Little Penguins
The Little Penguins of Phillip Island would have to be Victoria’s most loved wildlife residents. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, they come to shore every sunset and head back into their burrows.
Lillico Beach, TAS – Little penguins
Little Penguins also skuttle along the sand of Lillico Beach in Tasmania’s Devonport. Where Phillip Island draws quite the crowd, the vibe at Lillico is more wild and more personal. Be sure to ask the rangers plenty of questions.