- More than 750 species of birds have been recorded in Australia, 350 of which are found nowhere else in the world. Among them are the kookaburra, the rainbow lorikeet and fairy penguins. (i)
- Australia hosts another unique animal group, the monotremes—egg-laying mammals, often referred to as ‘living fossils’. The most distinctive is the platypus, a river-dwelling animal with a duck’s bill, a furry body and webbed feet. (i)
- Australia has more than 140 species of marsupials, including koalas, wombats and the Tasmanian devil, now found only in the Tasmanian wilderness. (i)
- More than 80 per cent of Australia’s flowering plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia, along with most of the fish and almost half the birds. (i)
- The kangaroo is unique to Australia and one of our most easily recognised mammals. It is also a marsupial and a macropod. There are 55 different species of the kangaroo family. (i)
Nature was inspired when it created Australia –animals you’ll see nowhere else and plants that will amaze you. Australia is one of the most diverse countries on the planet, home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world, and less than half of which have been described scientifically.
Australia’s animals are a breed apart. So strange are the creatures that hop, burrow and slither across its countryside that, until the 19th century, it was believed that our animals had a different evolutionary starting point from the rest of the earth’s species; a separate creation.
We have more mammals than anywhere else on earth and plenty of marsupials too, most of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world – kangaroos and koalas, wombats, bilbies, quolls, bandicoots, sugar gliders and ring-tailed possums – just to name a few. You can see them in our wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, but you’ll also stumble across them walking in the country, through the bush or even along coastal paths running beside our beaches.
You might even be lucky enough to see them on the beach or while you’re playing golf.
Australia’s third largest island, Kangaroo Island, teems with the sights and sounds of wild Australia - sea lions, sea eagles, koalas, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies - all within easy reach of Adelaide.
Australia’s tropical Top End is also a wildlife paradise - crocodiles, astonishing bird life, reptiles and wallabies - concentrated around wetlands that shrink to ponds as the dry season progresses, while the Daintree in Far North Queensland is a spectacular Garden of Eden, providing a habitat for creatures such as crocodiles, snakes and cassowaries.
- Share the beach with kangaroos. There’s every chance you’ll see kangaroos on the beach in the early morning or late afternoon wherever the bush meets the beach. However, the best-known places are at Pebbly Beach near Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, at Lucky Bay near Esperance on our west coast, or at stunning Cape Hillsborough, near Mackay in Queensland. Don’t forget your camera for this close encounter with Australian wildlife.
- Play golf with the kangaroos. They wander on to any course set in or near bushland – an experience you can only have in Australia. At Federal Golf Club, a short drive from Parliament House in our national capital Canberra, a large group of kangaroos live freely on the golf course; you might even be lucky enough to spot a mother and baby.
- Go bushwalking to see our native wildlife. Even in national parks in and around our cities you’ll hear and see native birds and animals and even a goanna or two rustling through the undergrowth.
- Visit one of our zoos to see our native animals. See koalas at Taronga Zoo on Sydney’s harbour foreshore, at Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide Zoo, or at the Western Plains Central Zoo in Dubbo. In Sydney, see all manner of wildlife at Sydney Wildlife World in the heart of the city’s spectacular Darling Harbour.
- Visit one of our wildlife sanctuaries or parks. In Victoria there’s the country wildlife retreat of Healesville Sanctuary; just outside Adelaide Cleland Wildlife Park and Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected habitat for endangered species; and, in Alice Springs, the Desert Park. Or hand-feed kangaroos and see and touch reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney.
Originally published 2 November 2009.
(i) http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/environment.html – Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade