Australia may not be the first destination that springs to mind when you think of planning a safari vacation.
It’s coming into its own over the years though, with everywhere from the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef offering plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities.
For an alternative trip to the typical African safari, our experts have put together this guide on where to go on safari in Australia.
Uluru and the Outback
The classic Australian safari destination, Uluru and the Outback is a land of vast arid landscapes, wild animals and spiritual energy. A place with a unique heritage and an equally beautiful landscape, the Australian Outback is a great place to spot many of Australia’s best loved critters. The most formidable thing about going on safari here though, is without a doubt the incredible skies. At golden hour, sunsets illuminate rivers, great canyons and the vast horizon.
As local aboriginal guides tell you the forgotten stories of the Dreamstime, you feel as though you’re experiencing a side to Australia only a few get to discover. During the night, the atmosphere takes on a mystical quality and the sweeping landscapes come to life. As night falls, Uluru changes colour from deep purple to a bright red, embodying the surreal world and magical energy that runs through the heart of the Northern Territory. A wonderful mix of cultures, landscapes and history, the Outback is a must-visit safari destination for anyone wanting to visit ethereal Australia.
Great Ocean Road
For epic views and the chance to spot wildlife in multiple locations, the Great Ocean Road shouldn’t be overlooked. 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 situated along the Great Ocean Road.
To get an insight into the history of the local wildlife, head to Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve near the city of Warrnambool. On an hour-long tour, you’ll meet emus, kangaroos, koalas and lizards, as well as learn about the Aboriginal heritage of the area. If sea life is more your thing, you can watch southern right whales calve in a nursery close to shore between May and September or swim with dolphins at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. For classic Australian wildlife, spot koalas at Kennett River and in the Great Otway National Park, or play golf alongside grazing kangaroos at Anglesea.
Australia’s Top End
A true wilderness, Australia’s Top End contains some of the few remaining expanses of genuinely untouched nature. It’s an isolated part of Australia, and therefore a breeding ground for many incredible species. Verdant savannahs abound, and they regularly come alive with the sounds of birds and endemic animals. The Top End is great for birdlife enthusiasts – Kakadu National Park is just one of the many reserves in the area, and is home to one third of all bird species found in Australia. With the Top End the gateway to the Australian Outback, there’s plenty of opportunity to spot flying-foxes, dingos and cockatoos as you wander through the endless mangroves.
Widely known for its vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness and diverse landscapes, Tasmania hosts fascinating endemic species that draw wildlife enthusiasts from far and wide. Home to 19 national parks, the wildlife on offer here is extremely diverse and ranges from forest-dwellers to sea life. This independent island is also great for eco-conscious travellers, with the majority of properties designed with the local environment in mind.
Perhaps the most enticing reason to visit Tasmania though, is to witness the Tasmanian devil. The world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, Tasmanian devils can weigh up to 12 kilograms, and will travel as far as 16 kilometres to find food. Wallabies, reptiles, small mammals and even carcasses are fair game, so these fascinating animals are small but mighty creatures.
The Great Barrier Reef
One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is the main draw for travellers in this picturesque corner of Australia. This awe-inspiring reef is the largest coral reef in the world, home to over 3000 individual reef systems and an incredible wealth of biodiversity. It’s a paradise for animal lovers; 30 species of cetaceans, more than 1500 types of fish and the graceful dugong all call this place home. Any snorkelling or diving enthusiast should carve out some time in their itinerary to explore this underwater marvel.
It’s no secret that ocean temperatures are on the rise globally, and as a result much of the Great Barrier Reef has sadly been destroyed in recent years. To discover the reef responsibly, there’s a myriad of ways you can help out local causes. Snap a photo of any manta rays you come across to help out with Project Manta’s research, help tend to sick or injured marine turtles at Mon Repos Turtle Centre or get stuck in at Eco Barge Clean beach clean ups. Tourism has become far better managed in the area too, so visiting the reef in a responsible way might even do it more good than you’d think.
The Daintree Rainforest
Australia’s Daintree Rainforest is a verdant, plush rainforest that almost rivals the Great Barrier Reef’s beauty. This dense green jungle is so beautiful it was even used as inspiration for the landscapes of blockbuster movie Avatar. For nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, the Daintree Rainforest is a hidden gem. Trek through jungle and discover flora and fauna unique to Daintree, soar through the forest canopy on a zip-line or go crocodile spotting along the Daintree River. Home to 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.