Wit­ness wildlife

Your guide to Aus­tralia’s wealth of unique nat­u­ral and wildlife ex­pe­ri­ences

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Contents -

Abun­dantly en­dowed with nat­u­ral won­ders, Aus­tralia is the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing na­ture and wildlife in its truest el­e­ment

NAT­U­RAL WON­DERS

SUR­REAL SEA CLIFFS

Stand­ing ma­jes­ti­cally over the crash­ing waves down below, the 300m high do­lerite sea cliffs at the bot­tom of the Tas­man Penin­sula are a true vi­sion to be­hold. The cliffs are one of the many at­trac­tions that make the Tas­man Na­tional Park a must-see stop for visi­tors. Not only does the park show­case some of Aus­tralia’s most beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral land­scapes, it is also home to a wide va­ri­ety of land and ma­rine an­i­mals. Look out for brush­tail pos­sums, Aus­tralian fur seals, dol­phins as well as mi­grat­ing whales in their nat­u­ral habi­tat.

THE PINNACLES, NAMBUNG

A desert known also for it’s beau­ti­ful beaches, Pinnacles Desert at Nambung Na­tional Park show­cases the con­ti­nent’s won­drous coastal dune sys­tems. The park bursts into bloom from Au­gust to Oc­to­ber, and the flow­ers are a sight to be­hold. Lo­cated just two hours from Perth, The Pinnacles con­sti­tute a col­lec­tion of weath­ered lime­stone pil­lars that pro­trude from the desert. A desert that ex­ists so close to the wa­ter is the first of many won­drous anom­alies in the nat­u­ral land­scape of Aus­tralia.

STROMATOLITES OF HAMELIN POOL, SHARK BAY

The old­est stromatolites in the world are found in Western Aus­tralia, known to be 3.7 bil­lion years old. The Hamelin Pool in Western Aus­tralia is one of four re­main­ing places on the planet where ma­rine stromatolites ex­ist, and the lo­ca­tion is also known to con­tain its big­gest colony on Earth. The ma­rine stromatolites of Hamelin Pool are also known to be the best ex­am­ple of their kind on Earth.

LAND DWELLERS

CROC­O­DILE DUNDEE

Equal parts in­tim­i­dat­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing, the sight of salt­wa­ter crocs swim by is thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence. The mas­sive North­ern Ter­ri­tory croc­o­dile with a ridged back moves through the wa­ter noise­lessly, leav­ing only mi­nor rip­ples as it slides just un­der the sur­face. Head on a two hour cruise on Yel­low Wa­ter Bil­l­abong at the heart of Kakadu Na­tional Park to wit­ness these preda­tors in their nat­u­ral habi­tat.

WOMBAT WATCH­ING

Na­tive to Aus­tralia, the wombat is a solid, ro­tund an­i­mal with short legs and twitch­ing noses. These mar­su­pi­als are essen­tially noc­tur­nal crea­tures, but they emerge from their bur­rows at dusk to feed on grasses. Head to the Wil­sons Promon­tory Na­tional Park in Vic­to­ria to catch a glimpse of wom­bats at the en­trance to the main beach, and on the camp­ing grounds. The park is also home to other furry friends, in­clud­ing kan­ga­roos, as well as birds such as emus and echid­nas.

GREET A TAS­MA­NIAN DEVIL

The largest car­niv­o­rous mar­su­pial in the world, the Tas­ma­nian devil is yet an­other furry buddy you’ll want to meet on your Aus­tralian ad­ven­ture. The lux­ury ho­tel Saf­fire Fr­eycinet in Tas­ma­nia runs a re­tire­ment home for the Tas­ma­nian devils. Here, guests are wel­come to ob­serve the en­dan­gered an­i­mals in all their nat­u­ral glory.

INTO THE OCEAN PAD­DLE ALONG­SIDE DWARF MINKE WHALES

Gain a friendly swim­ming com­pan­ion as you dive into the wa­ters of the Great Bar­rier Reef. The only place on the planet where they’ve been known to con­gre­gate and feed, the ex­pe­ri­ence leaves each one of its wit­nesses speech­less and in awe of these in­quis­i­tive crea­tures. Head here be­tween May and Au­gust each year to meet the minke whales your­self on a day trip, overnight ex­pe­di­tion, or on a boat de­part­ing from Cairns or

Port Dou­glas.

BE PLAY­MATES WITH SEA PUP­PIES

If you’re look­ing to play a bit of Marco Polo in the wa­ter, find a play­mate in the friendly sea lions. These chirpy and play­ful crea­tures may even swim right up to be­friend you be­fore putting on an aquaro­bics show, with an­tics that jus­tify their rep­u­ta­tion as “pup­pies of the sea”. Go for a swim with these cute crit­ters in the clear wa­ters of South Aus­tralia’s Eyre Penin­sula. Don’t for­get to pack an un­der­wa­ter cam­era to cap­ture them in all their play­ful glory.

HUMP­BACK HIGH­WAY

Known for their plain­tive songs that can of­ten go on for hours on end, Queens­land’s beau­ti­ful Sun­shine Coast is the per­fect place to visit the mag­nif­i­cent hump­back whales. Sun­shine Coast is part of the ‘Hump­back High­way’, a route that these whales swim past each year on their way north to the breed­ing grounds. Go whale watch­ing with Sun­reef Mooloolaba, and get ready for the phe­nom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ence of com­ing eye to eye with a whale, one that is of­ten de­scribed as a highly emo­tional one.

GREAT WHITE SHARK DIVE IN SOUTH AUS­TRALIA

Get stoked on thrills as you cage-dive to wit­ness the great white shark in its nat­u­ral abode. You will en­ter a cage that is low­ered un­der­wa­ter, keep­ing safety a pri­or­ity of course. Ex­pe­ri­ence adren­a­line-pumped ac­tion as the shark pow­ers to­wards meat dan­gled in front of you. While the cage is se­cure, the ex­pe­ri­ence is sure to make you jump. If you’re look­ing to stay dry as you plunge into the ocean, try the glass aqua-sub. But if you’re look­ing to re­ally brave it, amp the fear fac­tor by go­ing for the dive at twi­light.

Swim along­side play­ful sea lions Photo: Tourism Aus­tralia

Lime­stone pil­lars at the Pinnacles, Nambung Na­tional Park Photo: Tourism Aus­tralia

Watch wom­bats feed on grasses Photo: Tourism Aus­tralia

The do­lerite sea cliffs of the Tas­man penin­sula Photo: Sean Scott Pho­tog­ra­phy

Watch mag­nif­i­cent whales in their nat­u­ral hab­vi­tat Photo: Tourism and Events Queens­land

Wit­ness salt­wa­ter croc­o­diles as they hunt mul­lets Photo: Kakadu Na­tional Park

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