High on the list for many travellers from overseas (as well as interstate!) when visiting the Cairns region is seeing the wide array of native animals that call Australia home. From the infamous, cute and cuddly koala to burly, bouncing kangaroos, alongside wombats, dingoes, wallabies, echidnas, platypuses, emus, kookaburras, cassowaries and an array of reptiles (including lizards, turtles and crocodiles), an enormous variety of Australian animals can be found in a number of different environments across the country.
Some Australian animals are easier to spot than others in the wild, so in this article we introduce to you two of the best wildlife parks to visit in order to see Australian animals nearby Cairns – Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures in Wangetti Beach (40 minutes north of Cairns by road) and the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas (approximately one hour north of Cairns by road).
In addition, Australia’s famous and exquisite Great Barrier Reef is also home to thousands of different species of marine flora and fauna, and an astounding six of the world’s total of seven turtle species can be found on the Great Barrier Reef. For a unique Australian tropical island experience where you are likely to encounter sea turtles by snorkelling or diving right off the shore (as well as by paying a visit to the island’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre), look no further than venturing for the day to or staying on the idyllic tropical paradise of Fitzroy Island, easily accessible from Cairns.
Located nearby to Cairns in Wangetti Beach is Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, one of the top locations in all of the country not only to witness crocodiles but a wide array of Australian fauna too. With a strong focus on sustainability, this famous ecotourism attraction is open 364 days a year (every day with the exception of Christmas Day).
With the park divided into five zones (specifically: Hartley’s Lagoon, the Cassowary Walk, the Wildlife Discovery Trail, the Crocodile Farm and Gondwana Gateway), it’s best to set aside at least half a day if not a full day to experience all the park has to offer (the park opens at 8:30am and closes at 5pm daily).
Take a boat cruise on Hartley’s Lagoon to witness crocodiles in their Australian habitat. Boat cruises depart at six different set times daily. A number of presentations are made each day around the park, including Cassowary Feeding and Wetland Wildlife, Crocodile Feeding, the Snake Show, the Crocodile Attack Show, Wallaby & Quoll Feeding and Koala Feeding. A day out at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is a day like no other and one you surely will not forget for many years to come!
Split up into four specific North Queensland environments (namely Woodland, Wetlands, Rainforest and Savannah) and home to an array of Australian birds, mammals and reptiles, the Wildlife Habitat located in Port Douglas is one of the most unique and interactive ways to immerse yourself amongst Australian animals in a natural environment.
The Wildlife Habitat is a bird lovers’ paradise, and is home to 75 different species of birds, including cassowaries, cockatoos, finches and parrots. A number of famous Australian mammals can be seen at the Wildlife Habitat, including koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, as well as an array of reptiles such as crocodiles, dragons and pythons.
A variety of unique and memorable experiences are on offer at the Wildlife Habitat, including the infamous Breakfast with the Birds, Lunch with the Lorikeets, Wildnight Nocturnal Tours and a number of daily scheduled feeding tours and animal presentations.
Fitzroy Island, 23km off the coast of CairnsThe beautiful tropical paradise that is Fitzroy Island is located a mere 45-minute fast cat ride from Cairns Marina. Situated right on the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, whether you are visiting Fitzroy Island for just a day or a longer stay (via one of the island’s many accommodation options), it is the perfect spot from which to launch yourself onto the reef with your mask and snorkel and get up close and personal to an array of tropical fish and the opportunity to see Green Turtles in their natural environment.
The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is located on Fitzroy Island and is a non-profit organization run by a team of passionate volunteers who together are dedicated to rehabilitating injured and/or sick turtles with the intention of releasing them back into their ocean home. The Centre runs tours daily from 1 pm with a maximum of 15 participants, whereby you have the chance to see up close a number of sea turtles alongside a peek into the amazing work that is completed at the center. Tours can be booked on the day only, at the island’s General Store.