Australia wildlife: blue-eyed koala
Blue-eyed koala

There’s more to Australia than sun, surf and sand. If you’re looking for the chance to see some exciting and exotic animals on your gap year, Australia is a great choice of destination. Here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting animals that you can find in Australia.

The Kangaroo

Australia wildlife: Fighting red kangaroos
Fighting red kangaroos

The kangaroo is the most iconic Australian animal, and can be seen on the Australian coat of arms. Kangaroos can be found in almost every zoo and national park in Australia. Finding kangaroos in the wild can be difficult because they are quite shy and timid creatures, however there are some kangaroo spotting opportunities available in the Murrmarang Nature Reserve, which is just a few hour’s drive from Sydney.

Koala Bears

Australia wildlife: blue-eyed koala
Blue-eyed koala

Koalas are a herbivorous marsupial that is native to Australia. They can be found in the coastal and southern regions of the country. They are similar in appearance to wombats, but have bigger ears, longer limbs and thicker fur. The koala population of southern Australia was hunted to near extinction during the early part of the 20th century but Victorian koalas were used to re-populate the region. Koala bears can be seen in the wild in the sanctuary near the Tea Gardens, just north of Sydney.

Crocodiles

Australia wildlife: Freshwater Crocodile (Cairns)
Freshwater Crocodile (Cairns)

Crocodiles are large, aquatic tetrapods which live in tropical environments, including Africa, Asia and Australia. While crocodiles look like large lizards, they are genetically closer to birds and dinosaurs. Crocodiles can be seen in the wild in many parts of Australia, including on the Adelaide River, and the Mary River, near the Kakadu National Park. You can also see crocodiles in the Australia Zoo.

Possums

Australia wildlife: Common Brushtail Possum (Austin's Ferry, Tasmania)
Common Brushtail Possum (Austin's Ferry, Tasmania)

The term “possum” can be used to refer to any of around 70 arboreal marsupial species, which are native to Australia, Sulawesi and New Zealand. Possums have four legs and large, thick tails. Some possums are herbivores, while others eat insects, nectar, or follow other specialised diets. Possums are generally nocturnal, so are hard to see in the wild unless you go on a special wildlife watching trip. You can, however, see them in most zoos.

Bandicoots

Australia wildlife: Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Poimena Reserve, Austin's Ferry, Tasmania)
Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Poimena Reserve, Austin's Ferry, Tasmania)

Bandicoots are small marsupials with short fur and powerful legs. They are quite timid, and when threatened they can jump as far as 18 meters in a single leap. Bandicoots are an endangered species, and are considered extinct in the wild in many parts of the country. The best place to see Bandicoots is in a conservation park.

If you want to make your gap year in Australia truly special, consider heading to the Australia Walkabout Park, or the Featherdale Wildlife Park. These parks are teaming with dingoes, koala bears, possums, kangaroos, emu, wallabies and other interesting native species, including ones which are hard to find in the wild.

Consider camping in one of the parks overnight so that you can watch the nocturnal species in their native habitats. While you are there you can learn bushcrafts, play a didgeridoo, and practice throwing a boomerang.

About the author:

This article was put together by the team at Sport Lived – who can help you make the most of your gap year in Australia.

Photo by: Dellex, Koala Soph, Aoineko, JJ Harrison

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