We rounded up some of the country’s finest wildlife experiences and destinations, home to native and endangered Aussie animals.
You can learn how these conservation sanctuaries work to protect the animals in their care, as well as ensuring their future. Educating visitors is a huge part of that so come and experience these extraordinary wildlife encounters for yourself.
Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Canberra ACT
For an immersive experience that can only be described as an overnight safari, Jamala Wildlife Lodge is at the top of the ranks. Jamala offers guests the chance to stay in luxury lodges virtually built into the habitat of native and exotic animals. You can stay just inches away from a lion, tiger, cheetah or a Malayan sun bear – with only a glass wall between you. Or check-in to a stylish treehouse that overlooks a friendly giraffe, known to wander right up to balconies in search of a feed.
Dedicated to conservation, Jamala Wildlife Lodge focuses their efforts on those animals considered vulnerable and critically endangered. These include Sumatran tigers and Malayan sun bears. Set up as an addition to Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium, Jamala contributes funds to the zoo’s all-important breeding and conservation programs.
Read our full review of Jamala Wildlife Lodge here.
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney NSW
In Sydney’s west, this fantastic family-focused wildlife park boasts Australia’s largest collection of native animals. The park is one of the best for kids to learn about animals, from cuddly kangaroos and koalas, to reptiles and rare species. Choose to explore the park on your own or book one of the up-close wildlife encounters with one of the park’s inhabitants.
Behind the scenes, Featherdale run some fantastic conservation initiatives for endangered native species. A few include the Koala Plantation Fund, which seeks to create a self-sustaining food plantation for its koalas. The organisation conducts research into endangered species, such as eastern quolls and spotted-tailed quolls; as well as partnering with various other wildlife conservation groups.
Devils@Cradle, Cradle Mountain TAS
Our Tassie devils have faced their fair share of challenges. They were hunted to near extinction in the 1930s and have been plagued by a rare contagious cancer since the ‘90s. Today, a visit to one of Tasmania’s wildlife sanctuaries is the best way to see and learn about the endangered species.
Devils@Cradle is a boutique alpine conservation sanctuary, situated at the edge of Cradle Mountain National Park World Heritage Area. The sanctuary specialises in Tasmania’s three largest carnivorous marsupials: the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll and the eastern quoll. Devils@Cradle is a key partner of both the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and the Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program. Both deliver significant and sustainable in situ conservation outcomes for these beautiful, threatened species.
Visitors to the sanctuary can join a guided tour, which operate both day and night. The guides, qualified animal keepers, share their knowledge of the animal’s lifecycles, behaviours and threats. Visitors will also gain insight into the operation of a working conservation facility.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary, Alice Springs NT
The Northern Territory is bursting with thrilling and unforgettable wildlife encounters. A standout among them is the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs. This rescue centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of orphaned baby and adult kangaroos.
Wonderful for educational and up-close experiences, Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes, aka the Kangaroo Dundee, and his team rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned baby kangaroos back into the wild. Those kangaroos raised by wildlife carers from infancy, which cannot be released, inhabit the wilds of the 188-acre refuge.
Visitors can explore the sanctuary throughout the year on guided sunset tours led by Brolga and the other wonderful sanctuary tour guides.
Phillip Island VIC
Lying just off the south coast of Victoria, Phillip Island is most well-known for its population of more than 20,000 miniature penguins. Hundreds of people gather to watch the little penguins ‘parade’ ashore at sunset every day of the year. It’s a special experience, where every allowance has been made to ensure that humans don’t impede upon the penguins’ natural habitat and behaviour.
The island is home to an impressive diversity of wildlife, including Australia’s largest colony of more than 16,000 fur seals. Visitors can watch them lounging about on the rocky shore from the Nobbies Centre. For closer wildlife encounters, head out to sea on a local seal watching cruise.
The 100 square kilometre island is also home to an abundance of first-rate wildlife parks. Phillip Island Wildlife Park, Koala Conservation Centre, Moonlit Sanctuary, and Churchill Island Heritage Farm are just a few. Their primary aim is to preserve the astounding biodiversity of life that calls this tiny island home.
Mon Repos Conservation Park, Bundaberg QLD
This unique conservation centre is home to one of the highest concentrations of nesting marine turtles in Australia. Mon Repos runs nightly tours where visitors can witness turtles come ashore to lay eggs. Then, later on in the year, watch their hatchlings make their way to the sea. The entire season runs between November and March. Though, the highest concentration of hatchlings arriving in February and continue to emerge through to late March.
Championing education alongside conservation, Mon Repos Turtle Centre is an interactive learning centre. Here, children and adults alike can learn about the astounding journeys sea turtles have made for more than 200 million years. Mon Repos helps visitors better understand the current threats to the species, as well as highlight conservation efforts underway to protect our ocean’s great reptiles.