Incredible Wildlife in Western Australia
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 22 June 2016
Western Australia is as biodiverse as it gets. Travellers flock from all over the globe to catch a glimpse of this animal-packed hotspot’s rich array of wildlife – on land and beneath the waves. To put its incredible offering into perspective, the region is home to 141 of Australia’s 207 mammals, 25 of which are endemic to the state. It also boasts a whopping 439 reptile species, more than 1,600 types of fish and hundreds of thousands of invertebrates.
It would be near-impossible for us to list them all, but what we can do is tell you about a handful of our favourites. So without further ado…
The whale shark is the marine emblem of Western Australia. Often found at Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth, this mighty fish – the biggest on the planet – can grow up to 18 metres long. Its massive Dyson-esque mouth hoovers up plankton, drawing it to the surface of the water where it sluggishly feeds. Don’t be deceived though, it may seem slow-moving but those fins are powerful and if you’re swimming alongside, you won’t be able to keep pace for long. That said, even if you’re only in the water with one for 20 seconds it’s still an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Getting in the water with wild dolphins tops many a bucket-list. And with 7,800 miles of Western Australia coastline to choose from it’s easy to spot big (and friendly!) pods of bottlenose, common and striped dolphins. Rockingham and Koombana Bay in Bunbury are the best places to do so, with experiences running from September to June or October to April respectively.
The quokka rose to fame this year as part of a selfie craze: these miniature marsupials are so friendly towards people, and that includes posing for a photo or two with them. The majority of these super-cute, super-smiley furry critters can be found on Rottnest Island, a tourist spot where they are at their most inquisitive, especially when it comes to humans and of course human food.
Perhaps Australia’s most iconic creature, kangaroos are omnipresent in the west – nearly two million live here. You’ll typically see one of four types: western grey, red and antilopine wallaroo. Boomers (males) and flyers (females) are best known for their lightning speed hopping abilities – they can hurtle along at 21mph. The best places to spot them (if they’re not whizzing past you that is) include Lucky Beach in Esperance, where kangaroos can be found on the sands themselves, as well as Yanchep National Park and Caversham Wildlife Park, near Perth.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to whales in Western Australia. Humpbacks, sperm, southern right, pygmy blue, minke, long-finned pilot, Gray’s, strap-tooth beaked and false killer whales all have made the state’s waters their home – at least for part of the year. And with one of the longest whale-watching seasons on the planet (May-Dec), you can spot these gentle giants as they frolick, breach, fluke, tail-slap and shoot water several metres into the air. The best vantage points, dependant on the time of year, can be found in Augusta’s Flinders Bay, King George Sound near Albany and the iconic north Kimberley coast.
From December to February, Western Australia’s turtle population explodes. Head for Ninagloo Reef at this time of year to see green, hawksbill, loggerhead, flatback and leatherback turtles as they lay their eggs, patiently waiting for them to hatch. It’s an enchanting time and a magical place to experience nature at its most breathtaking – especially as you can participate in conservation and environmental programmes to help re-establish breeding colonies.