17 of the Best Wildlife Experiences in Queensland

This article covers 17 of the very best wildlife experiences you can enjoy in Queensland!

The Queensland Travel Guide acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which the various destinations mentioned in this guide are situated. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and recognise their continued spiritual and cultural connections to Country. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.

With such diverse habitats ranging from the depths of ancient rainforests to the vibrant expanse of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is the perfect destination for animal lovers hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite creatures in the wild.  

With my various trips around Queensland, I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel alongside sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef, see emus run across the highway while travelling in the outback, watch kangaroos feeding at sunrise on the beach and be in awe as I’ve cruised past mighty saltwater crocodiles.  

And these are only a few of the wonderful wildlife encounters I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in Queensland! 

In this travel article, I’ll share a range of wildlife experiences Queensland offers. 

Whether you want to see koalas perched in eucalyptus trees or platypus in the creeks or catch a rare sighting of a dugong, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to have your very own wildlife encounter.

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In no particular order, below we cover 17 of the very best wildlife experiences you can have in Queensland.

1. Daintree Rainforest

Location: North of Cairns, Tropical North Queensland

As one of the most ancient rainforests on the planet, the Daintree is a haven for biodiversity. Visitors can spot the elusive cassowary, a prehistoric-looking bird, along with a variety of other species like tree kangaroos and the Boyd’s forest dragon. Guided night walks are particularly rewarding for sighting nocturnal creatures.

But my personal favourite animal to see in the Daintree… the mighty saltwater crocodile!

On a cruise on the Daintree River visitors can see saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment. The area is also teeming with birdlife, making it a top spot for birdwatchers.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

2. Great Barrier Reef

Location: Off the coast from Cairns to Bundaberg

The Great Barrier Reef is a world-renowned snorkelling and diving destination where you can swim alongside sea turtles, countless species of fish, and even gentle reef sharks. 

Seasonally, you can also witness the migration of humpback whales and the magical spawning of corals.

Some of my personal favourite places to experience marine life in the Great Barrier Reef include Fitzroy Island, Heron Island, the Whitsundays and Bundaberg.

Click here for more information about experiencing the Great Barrier Reef.

3. Mulgumpin (Moreton Island)

Image credit thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

Location: Off the coast of Brisbane

Mulgumpin is famous for its opportunities to feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma. The island’s surrounding waters are also a great spot for spotting whales during migration seasons and for snorkelling with a diverse array of marine life around the shipwrecks.  

If you’re lucky, you may even spot dugongs and wobbegongs while snorkelling!  

Click here for more information about things to do on Mulgumpin.

4. K’gari (Fraser Island)

Location: Off the coast of Hervey Bay

K’gari is known for its dingo population, and it offers a unique chance to observe these wild dogs in their natural environment. 

The island also supports a variety of birds, bats, and other native wildlife, which can be seen while exploring its ancient rainforests and expansive beaches.

Click here for more information about things to do on K’gari.

5. Atherton Tablelands

Location: Inland from Cairns

The Atherton Tablelands is a biodiverse region that is excellent for spotting unique Australian wildlife, such as the platypus, in its natural habitat, particularly around the creeks and rivers at dawn and dusk. 

The area is also home to tree kangaroos and many bird species.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

6. Cape York Peninsula

Location: Far north Queensland

For the more adventurous, Cape York offers remote and rugged landscapes where you can see wildlife that’s less accustomed to human presence. This includes a variety of bird species, crocodiles in their natural river habitats, and numerous endemic species.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

7. Magnetic Island

Location: Off the coast of Townsville

Over half of Magnetic Island is a national park, making it a great place for encountering koalas in the wild, particularly along the Forts Walk. 

The island is also a habitat for rock wallabies and offers excellent bird watching opportunities.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

8. Lady Elliot Island

Image credit thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

Location: Southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef

Lady Elliot Island is known for its manta rays and is often called a manta ray hotspot. Visitors can snorkel or dive with these graceful creatures throughout the year. 

The island is also a significant breeding ground for seabirds and a nesting site for green and loggerhead turtles during the season.

Click here for more information about experiencing the Southern Great Barrier Reef

9. Lamington National Park

Location: Inland from the Gold Coast

Nestled in the Gondwana Rainforests, an ancient group of forests that includes the most extensive subtropical rainforest in the world, Lamington National Park offers birdwatching opportunities with over 190 species recorded. 

The park is also home to the rare Albert’s lyrebird, pademelons, and other forest dwellers.

Click here for more information about things to do in the Lamington National Park.

10. Hervey Bay

Location: Along the Fraser Coast

Hervey Bay is my very favourite place to see humpback whales. The whales stop here from July to November during their migration, and the calm waters make it ideal for whale-watching tours. It’s a unique opportunity to see these majestic creatures up close.

Click here for more information about things to do on the Fraser Coast.

11. Cape Hillsborough

Location: North of Mackay

Cape Hillsborough is famous for seeing kangaroos and wallabies feeding at the beach at sunrise. This iconic scene provides a stunning photographic opportunity to see these animals in a uniquely scenic setting.

Click here for more information about seeing the kangaroos in Cape Hillsborough.

12. Tin Can Bay

Location: Southeast Queensland

Tin Can Bay on the Fraser Coast is known for its dolphin feeding experience, where wild Australian humpback dolphins come close to shore. It’s super cool to interact with these intelligent creatures in a responsible and controlled environment.

Click here for more information about things to do on the Fraser Coast.

13. Etty Bay

Location: Near Innisfail, South of Cairns

Etty Bay is a quiet beach where cassowaries are often seen wandering right on the sand. This is a rare opportunity to observe these majestic birds in a coastal environment.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

14. Bundaberg

Location: Southern Queensland

From November to March, the beaches around Bundaberg are significant nesting sites for loggerhead turtles. Mon Repos Conservation Park offers guided tours to witness turtle hatchlings make their first journey to the sea.

As well as seeing turtles on the beach, you also have the chance to see them in the ocean during a trip to the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island – one of my favourite places to experience the reef from.

Click here for more information about things to do in Bundaberg.

15. Malanda

Location: Atherton Tablelands

Malanda is one of the few places in the world where tree kangaroos can be seen in the wild. These unique marsupials can be spotted in the trees, particularly around the Malanda Conservation Park.

Click here for more information about things to do in North Queensland.

16. Outback Queensland

The vast landscapes of Outback Queensland are home to emus, the second largest living bird by height. These large, flightless birds are often seen wandering near outback towns or along quiet country roads.

Click here for more information about things to do in Outback Queensland.

17. Bunya Mountains

Location: Southern Country Queensland

The Bunya Mountains are a spectacular destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. This area is renowned for its diverse bird species, including the striking king parrots and the elusive satin bowerbirds. 

Visitors have the unique opportunity to see these colourful birds in their natural habitat from the comfort of the balcony of your Bunya Mountain accommodation.  These gorgeous birds will fly right down to your balcony and feed off the seed – you might even be lucky enough to have them eat right out of your hand!

Additionally, the Bunya Mountains are home to a healthy population of kangaroos, which can often be seen grazing in the parklands at dawn and dusk.

Click here for more information about things to do in Southern Country Queensland.

Distance: Always keep a respectful distance from wildlife to avoid animal stress or harm.

Feeding: Feeding wildlife can disrupt their natural diet and behaviour; avoid it unless under controlled conditions, such as the dolphin feeding at Moreton Island.

Guided Tours: Opt for guided tours with knowledgeable locals to enhance your experience and understanding of the wildlife and ecosystems.