Where to Go on Safari in Australia
Published on: August 29th, 2019
Last modified: July 28th, 2023
Australian safaris explore some of the most epic natural spaces and fascinating wildlife on the planet. There’s snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef, captivating endemic species in Tasmania, cute koalas on the Ocean Road and fascinating cultural heritage at Uluru and in the Outback.
Much like taking a safari in Africa, Australia offers a stunning collection of safari lodges. Stay in luxury tree houses nestled in the glistening canopy of the Daintree Forest or get back to nature in safari-style tents in Kakadu National Park on an exclusive safari with legendary guide, Sab Lord.
We’ve asked our experts to collate their ultimate guide on where to go on safari in Australia and where you can find certain species - the perfect guide for first timers, seasoned safari goers or those choosing between Africa or Australia. We’ll list our favourite locations and let you know why we think they’re so special.
Safari Destinations in Australia
1. Uluru and the Outback
The classic Australian safari destination, Uluru and the Outback is a land of vast arid landscapes, wild animals, spiritual energy and unique heritage. Experience extraordinary luxury at Longitude 131° where walls made entirely of glass deliver epic views of the mighty Uluru – for views of Kata Tjuta as well, be sure to opt for the Dune Pavilion suite. At night watch Uluru change from bright red to deep purple, embodying the undeniable energy running through the heart of the Northern Territory.
The Australian Outback is a great place to spot many of Australia’s best loved creatures from kangaroos to the magnificent thorny devil and many other reptile and bird species. Along with natural wonders and wildlife, Aboriginal guides thoughtfully explaining Dreamtime, exposes a side to Australia only few visitors get to discover. A wonderful mix of cultures, landscapes and history, the Outback is a must-visit safari destination for anyone wanting to visit ethereal Australia.
Widely known for its vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness and diverse landscapes, Tasmania is home to 19 national parks teeming with wildlife from forest-dwellers to sea life. It’s also a place of tremendously stylish hotels; stay in an art gallery and museum with villas designed in sharp triangular shapes at MONA Pavilions or in boutique luxury in the historic Islington Hotel at Hobart.
This independent island cares about sustainability, suiting today’s conscious traveller. Saffire Freycinet, a contemporary hotel that cleverly embraces its natural surroundings, acts as refuge for older Tasmanian Devils, and leads conservation efforts in the region. Tasmanian Devils are the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, weighing up to 12 kilograms and travel as far as 16 kilometres to find food such as wallabies, reptiles and small mammals.
3. The Great Barrier Reef
One of the world’s great natural wonders, the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. Home to over 3000 individual reef systems and an incredible wealth of biodiversity with 30 species of cetaceans, more than 1500 types of fish and the graceful dugong – it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Any snorkelling or diving enthusiast must explore this underwater marvel.
Rising ocean temperatures have put the reef in peril, meaning sustainable travel is now vital. Luckily there’s a myriad of ways you can discover the reef responsibly. Stay in the sustainably designed, contemporary Lizard Island, situated inside the national park and be submerged in the natural world. On the idyllic white-sand Haggerston Island, fringed with palms and dotted with Papua New Guinea-style huts, there’s a genuine connection to nature – and the entire island can be privately booked, for those seeking complete privacy.
4. Kakadu National Park
Australia’s Northern Territory, known as the Top End, is one of the world’s great wildernesses, accessible from the little tropical city of Darwin. Enormous expanses (it’s six times bigger than the UK) of pristine landscapes are filled with wildlife, ancient culture, captivating recent history and more than 80 national parks.
Kakadu National Park is home to Bamurru Plains, set in its own private reserve and on our list of top sustainable lodges in the world. Buffalo, wallabies, crocodiles and much more can be discovered on exhilarating quad bike and airboat safaris, led by expert naturalist guides. For the ultimate Australian safari experience set out with legendary guide Sab Lord from Lords Camp in Arnhem Land. Benefit from his decades of experience on an epic expedition (longer itineraries can last up to two weeks) of wildlife viewing, wild swimming and genuine cultural experiences.
5. Kangaroo Island
Ten thousand years ago a section of land in southern Australia was cut off from the mainland by rising waters and Archaeological proof humans ceased. Kangaroo Island became a remote wildlife haven, virtually untouched until the 19th century. Diverse, windswept and made up of rolling hills, craggy cliffs, amber grasslands, white-sand beaches, and protected by several nature reserves and sustainable hotels. Home to a massive list of wildlife including platypuses, possums and, unsurprisingly, Kangaroos.
Southern Ocean Lodge, due to reopen in the latter part of 2023, offers an elegant place to stay while exploring the wilds of the island. Safari excursions take you to the coast to look for seals, into Flinders Chase National Park where you can spot koalas and wallabies and onto the water where dancing dolphins play. There’s beehives, wine and foodie tours and unmissable cultural excursions too.
6. The Daintree Rainforest
Australia’s Daintree Rainforest is a verdant, lush rainforest used as the inspiration for the landscapes in the blockbuster movie Avatar, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s breathtaking. For a stylish, modern and totally luxurious treehouse, look no further than Silky Oaks. With the social areas open to the meandering mossman river below there’s a strong connection to nature- a truly immersive experience.
Adventure seekers can trek through the jungle, soar through the forest canopy on a zip-line, go on wildlife walks or kayaking trips – keeping a look out for crocodiles and green possums. Home to a quarter of Australia’s frog population, one of the world’s largest butterfly colonies and an incredible 122 rare and endangered species, the Daintree Rainforest is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts who are seeking some of the more obscure animals such as Boyd’s Forest Dragon or the striking Southern Cassowary.
7. Great Ocean Road
For epic views and the chance to spot wildlife in multiple locations, be sure to include the Great Ocean Road on your Australian safari. Stretching between Torquay and Allansford, this Australian National Heritage site offers plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities and unforgettable views. From rainforests and rivers to rugged coastline and ancient volcanoes, there’s a variety of wildlife habitats to discover.
Stay at Lake House Daylesford, a stunning lakefront retreat, nestled within olive groves and dappled forests. From here, travel to Ballarat Wildlife Park to experience private ranger-guided wildlife tours. Also in the region is the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve where there’s a chance to meet emus, koalas and lizards. Visiting between May and September means ocean safari opportunities as the southern right whales come close to shore, or go swimming with dolphins at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.
Where to Stay While on Safari in Australia
Longitude 131°The scale and beauty of the Australian outback is truly awe inspiring. Longitude 131° allows you to really experience the magic of the country’s spiritual heart and discover the rich history and indigenous culture. Always in sight, Uluru dominates the sparse landscape of the Red Centre, and guests are rewarded with ever-changing views as the light dances across the rock face. 15 luxury tents are nestled among the rust-red dunes, their canopied roofs dotted across swathes of sand. Each tent is beautifully furnished and features floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto a private deck with day bed, armchairs and a fireplace. Here you can gaze out across the ochre landscape, and really appreciate the beauty of this vast undisturbed wilderness. Each tent is named after an explorer or pioneer and framed artifacts are displayed on the walls, complimented by colourful works of indigenous art. Longitude 131° showcases the very best of contemporary Australian cuisine, complimented by an excellent selection of fine wines. Choose to dine in the Dune House or under the stars at Table 131, the ultimate dining experience. Sunset drinks are served each evening and after dinner, the resident astronomer will regale guests with tales of the southern constellations. Acquire some respite from the warm weather at Red Ochre Spa, located at the nearby Ayers Rock Resort. Return transfers to the spa are included and guests can relax with treatments inspired by nature. There is so much to explore in this beautiful and spiritual land, and all your tours and excursions are included. Learn about the history of the sacred Uluru, explore gorges and visit the Field of Light solar installation, an international-acclaimed work of art. Blooming and glowing in the deepening darkness of the evening, small stems sway in the breeze to create a remarkable and enchanting scene.
Lord's Safaris CampWith over two decades of experience in this harsh, vast but stunning wilderness, Lord’s Safaris arrange incredible tailored tours based out of an exclusive camp in Kakadu. The camp, basic but functional, has space for 12 guests, but it is also possible to arrange entirely private safaris. The tents themselves are permanent structures with floors, beds, doors and solar fans and lights. Exploring the region in a 4WD vehicle, you’ll get to discover some of Australia’s most important cultural heritage and stunning vistas, a patchwork of deserts, wildlife rich billabongs and waterfalls. Arnhem Land is a place where the Aboriginal culture thrives, and, having cultivated relationships with the local people, you can experience this ancient way of life in a uniquely close way with privileged access. You’ll be shown incredible rock art sites, some 8000 years old, by Aboriginal guides and meet craftspeople for an unparalleled insight into their ancient way of life. You can also swim in cool creeks, go birdwatching, head out on boat rides and take scenic hikes up rocky escarpments. Tours range in length from two days to two weeks, often with stays at lodges such as Bamurru Plains.
Bamurru PlainsA luxury bush camp on the vast floodplains of the Northern Territory, Bamurra Plains is a wonderful way to experience this unique and beautiful landscape. Set within 300km2 of private land to the west of Kakudu National Park, guests will enjoy access to miles of undisturbed coastal floodplains, savannah woodland and paperbark swamps. Reconnecting with nature needn’t mean going back to basics, and ten safari-style bungalows ensure a comfortable and relaxing stay. Each bungalow overlooks the floodplains and features mesh walls so you can hear, see and almost touch the wildlife and wilderness that surrounds you. Décor reflects the region’s indigenous, hunting and pastoral history with buffalo horns, explorer maps, Aboriginal art and old photographs adorning the walls. Each bungalow comes with a species list so you can identify the animals that wander past. The largest Kingfisher suite features a generous living space and enough room for extra beds, making it a great option for adventurous families. With no internet access, TV or mobile signal, switching off has never been easier and you’ll soon find yourself tuning in to the sounds of the bush as you drift off to sleep. Dining at Bamurru Plains is a real treat, with locally sourced produce used to create a menu that is authentic yet contemporary. Meals are served in the wildlife observation deck and there is a self-service bar which guests are welcome to use. In this sanctuary of flora and fauna lives a vast, thriving eco system which includes many species of bird hiding in the swamps and savannah woodlands. Enjoy the heights amongst the tree tops when you settle down to an evening in The Hide while those who love to fish are encouraged to embark on a river fishing or airboat fishing excursion.
Silky OaksSilky Oaks is one of Australia’s most stunning riverside lodges, nestled in tropical North Queensland rainforest with a collection of treehouse suites immersing guests in the lush surroundings. The eco-retreat invites you to escape from everyday life and get back in touch with nature amongst the Daintree rainforest setting. The treehouses and suites blend organic wooden furnishings with contemporary design. Each room has a wide verandah with hammocks, breakfast with a view and deep baths to sink into at the end of the day. Dining at Silky Oaks is a memorable experience, with gourmet Australian cuisine served in the award-winning open-sided Treehouse Restaurant which is perched high above the rainforest and Mossman River. Guests can soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa. Guests can explore this diverse and dense rainforest by its many hiking trails, cruise down the river in a canoe, take out a bicycle to venture further afield, go goanna spotting, get zen with morning yoga or cool off in the scenic river. Alternatively, you can simply soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa.
Oceanview Eco VillasThis fully-hosted eco-luxury property is set on 500 acres beside the stunning Kangaroo Island coastline. There are two elegant, contemporary villas, each with two bedrooms featuring their own ensuites and generous living areas. Drink in the gorgeous coastal views of Nepean Bay. The off-grid, eco-design and build means that guests can be assured they are leaving a small footprint and helping to take care of the local environment. The hosts aim to provide each guest with a place to truly relax and rejuvenate while discovering all the island has to offer.
Haggerstone IslandFlee from the mainland to an utterly isolated and private island resort, fringed by coral reefs and shrouded by jungle, and an undeniable air of magic. The journey to this remote part of the world sets the tone for your stay and entails a private charter from either Cairns or Weipa. Five carefully handcrafted huts are fronted by the beach, with kitchenettes, thatched roofs, driftwood furnishings, and airy open-plan designs. Arched doorways, bare stone or teak floors and gaping windows create a soothing sense of coolness, while earthy tones and textured fabrics add warming pops of colour. Private decks jut out over tropical foliage, while boardwalks lead to open showers, with huddles of palm trees serving as a backdrop. After the sun has dipped behind the ocean, a heavenly feast of freshly caught seafood and produce from the resort’s orchard is served in the main dining room, under the light of flickering candles. Breakfast is a spread of fruit and homemade muesli, with eggs from the free-roaming chickens on the island, and lunch might even feature your own catch from the surrounding waters. Adventure is a promise at this dreamy destination, with jet-skiing, beachcombing, snorkelling, spearfishing and boat excursions, being some popular picks on the menu of experiences. With a whole island at your doorstep, you’re encouraged to take your time to explore the beaches, venture into the jungle, or set off in a helicopter to hover over hidden waterfalls, before concluding with champagne atop a sand dune.