For locals or for hopeful visitors, it’s an exciting prospect to explore the huge, beautiful state of Western Australia. With a stunning coastline, pristine beaches and the glorious red dirt outback, WA has so much to offer.
If you’re after a unique experience on your next family holiday, consider travelling to parts of WA that offer magnificent wildlife encounters – where you can get up close and personal to some of the majestic, beautiful and unique wildlife Western Australia is famous for.
Here’s our list of must-sees for wildlife enthusiasts in WA:
Quokkas on Rottnest Island
The quokka selfie is iconic to Rotto – and it’s easy to see why. These small marsupials are well-known for having a little smile on their adorable little faces. They have no natural predators on Rottnest, and are therefore very friendly and trusting. There are an estimated 10,000-12,000 quokkas on Rottnest Island, and you’ll be able to spot them as soon as you step off the ferry.
There are quokka gates all over the island to stop these little guys getting into restaurants and cafes – but they’re more clever than we give them credit for, and often manage to find their way in! Please don’t feed the quokkas, and appreciate them from a distance – strictly no touching. And be aware – if you leave your bag on the ground, they will have a little snoop through!
Whale watching in Broome
During whale watching in Broome (from about the end of June to early October each year) Broome boasts the largest populations of Humpback whales in the world! The whales migrate from the cold Antarctic waters to the warm waters of the Kimberely region to mate and calve. It’s quite a sight to behold when the great mammals breach, slapping their tails and teaching their calves to swim.
There’s truly no better way to experience the majesty of the Humpback whales than up close and personal on a whale watching cruise. Get the whole family out on a whale watching vessel and experience the thrill of being close to these gentle giants. It’s an unforgettable experience!
Whale sharks in Exmouth
Swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth is one on the bucket list for many adventurers and thrillseekers. The whale shark is the world’s biggest fish, and can be found congregating along the Ningaloo Reef between March and August each year. Local tour companies offer the experience to swim alongside the iconic whale sharks for a truly memorable experience.
The Ningaloo Reef is an aquatic wonderland, so you’re sure to spot other extraordinary marine life during your swim, such as turtles and dolphins.
Crocodiles in Broome
Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park in Broome specialises in education around saltwater crocodiles. Many of the crocodiles have been removed from popular waterways around the Kimberley region for posing a threat to the local communities.
Make sure you visit during feeding time, to see how the great saltwater crocodiles feed. You may even get a chance to hold a baby crocodile!
If you would prefer to see the crocodiles in their natural habitat, take an extended tour with a local tour company along a river or creek system where they will point out the crocs to you.
Penguins on Penguin Island
Only a short ferry ride from Shoalwater, Penguin Island is the home to an estimated 1,200 Little Penguins – one of the most northern spots these small penguins are found. On your visit, see if you can spot any Little Penguins as they waddle back from the ocean to their burrows.
If you’re into snorkelling, Penguin Island is a great place to do so. Or follow the boardwalk trail for a nice 1.5km walk, and see if you can spot the other wildlife inhabiting Penguin Island, including pelicans and other nesting seabirds.
Stingrays in Hamelin Bay
The stingrays in Hamelin Bay come right up to the shore throughout most of the year – but for your best chance at a close encounter, visit during summer. Try to go in the morning to avoid the crowds. On calm days, the stingrays are easily visible in the clear waters, and you can even snorkel alongside them. Some of the rays are as large as two metres across!
As with every animal encounter, proceed with caution. You’re in their habitat after all. Offer them plenty of space and respect, and don’t try to touch or feed them. They are wild animals, so keep your distance.
Dolphins in Mandurah
Dolphin cruises in and around the waterways of Mandurah offer the opportunity to see these playful mammals up close, and Mandurah is the home of the largest population of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in Western Australia. The whole family will be delighted with watching mum and bub dolphins swimming alongside the boat. Some of the local tour companies are so familiar with the dolphins that frequent the waterways that they’ve named them!
Whether your next trip within WA takes you north or south of Perth, make sure you check out some of the magnificent wildlife encounters this rich and diverse country offers. But remember – give the animals space, don’t try to feed them, and leave nothing behind but footprints.