From bird watching to croc spotting, Western Australia boasts an abundance of opportunities to observe wildlife.
Australian outback animals of all shapes and sizes hop, swim, slither and thrive in the wide-open desert landscapes and deep rugged gorges of WA. From iconic red kangaroos and emus, to snakes and crocodiles, you can encounter many native mammal species, reptiles and migratory birds if you stop to take a closer look.
Crocodiles can often be seen basking on the banks of rivers, wetlands and inlets in the Kimberley – one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth.
Freshwater crocodiles (or ‘freshies’) are relatively harmless to humans and are commonly spotted in and around Lake Argyle, the Ord River, Windjana Gorge, Geikie Gorge and Tunnel Creek.
The really big guys with the gaping jaws are the revered saltwater crocodiles, or 'salties'. They’re found on the Kimberley coast, around Derby and Broome, and sometimes inland too. It's always a heart-pumping experience to see them in their natural environment, but your safest options are to join a knowledgeable guide and follow their advice, visit a local crocodile park or head for the zoo.
Hopping kangaroos and other marsupials
The two main species you’ll see hopping around the great expanse of WA’s outback are the western grey kangaroo and the iconic red kangaroo. The ‘big red’ is the largest marsupial in the world – growing over six feet high and weighing up to 80 kilograms. In the gorges of Cape Range National Park, you may also catch a glimpse of the rare black-footed rock wallaby, while Shark Bay World Heritage Area is home to the endangered bilby and Dryandra Woodland is a haven for the State’s emblem, the numbat.
Thorny devils, giant goannas, snakes and more
Western Australia is home to more than 400 reptile species, almost 200 of which are found nowhere else on Earth. You'll need to be patient to spot them, but it’s always worth the wait. Again, it's best to go searching with an experienced local guide.
Francois Peron National Park in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is a haven for many rare Australian desert animals and native reptiles, including the quirky little thorny devil, which looks more like a bizarrely patterned rock than an animal. Lucky visitors may also catch a glimpse of the stunning bungarra – a giant goanna.
Although the outback is home to many of Western Australia’s native snakes, including the venomous mulga (king brown), gwardar (western brown), northern and desert death adder, and the taipan, they’re pretty hard to spot in the wild as they are quite shy around humans.
Native and migratory birds
Pack the binoculars and cast your eyes to the outback skies, wetlands, bushlands and mangroves. See the majestic wedge-tailed eagle soar high above the outback plain. Watch brightly-coloured finches, budgerigars, red-winged parrots and rainbow lorikeets taking a drink or a bath in the rock pools. Spot black-necked storks (Jjabiru) and elegant brolgas wading in the wetlands. Or head for the coastal nesting and feeding sites of migratory birds.
Top spots include Mornington Wilderness Camp in the Kimberley wilderness, Cape Arid National Park near Esperance, and Eighty Mile Beach near Broome.
Getting up close
If the creatures you seek are shy and elusive, you can enjoy close encounters with some of these awesome Australian outback animals at the Perth Zoo, Caversham Wildlife Park, AQWA or one of the State’s reptile centres.