Wildlife parks and encounters

Whale breaching. Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Let the wild and wonderful ‘locals’, the wildlife of Queensland's parks, surprise and delight you.

    No documentary can compare to the thrill of seeing Queensland’s wildlife 'in the wild'. Whether you’re on the land, in the water or peering from the air, an exciting wildlife experience in nature awaits.

    Or, for a more 'up close and personal' (and guaranteed!) wildlife experience, a visit to one of our wildlife parks is a must.

    Whales

    Every year Queensland is visited by humpback whales that migrate through our waters between May to late November, and their majestic journey can be seen from many national and marine parks. Hervey Bay, in the Great Sandy Marine Park, is a sheltered bay where they often spend weeks between August and November with their young calves. Whale watching tours are fascinating experiences, enjoyed by all ages.

    Find out more about watching whales along Queensland’s coast including Moreton Bay Marine Park, Great Sandy Marine Park , and within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and where to find a whale watching tour.

    Turtles

    Witness one of nature’s ancient rituals—sea turtles laying their eggs and hatchlings making their journey to the sea. Turtle watching at Queensland’s Mon Repos Conservation Park in Bundaberg is an unforgettable experience! Mon Repos boasts the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on Australia’s east coast, making it a world-famous turtle watching location. Join a ranger-led Turtle Encounter tour between November and March to watch sea turtles make their way up the beach and lay eggs in the sand, and see tiny sea turtles hatch and scramble for the sea.

    Bats

    Feel the rush of thousands of little bent-winged bats flashing past you as they leave their roost at dusk. Mount Etna Caves National Park is one of only 7 known sites in Australia where colonies of little bent-winged bats breed and give birth. It’s an amazing spectacle as they rush out of their roost to hunt at dusk. Book a ranger-led tour to Bat Cleft cave.

    You can also see bats in the railway tunnel of Dularcha National Park, in the lava tube caves of Undara Volcanic National Park, and in the limestone caves of Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.

    Platypuses

    Spot a furry favourite in its watery playground. The much-loved Australian platypus is a rare but welcome sight in the wild creeks at Eungella National Park and at Carnarvon Gorge, where visitors wait patiently in hope of a glimpse. For an easier viewing experience, visit the nocturnal house at David Fleay Wildlife Park and watch the resident platypus—Wally—as he goes about his daily activities.

    Glow worms

    Watch nature’s lights brighten up the night. The famous Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park is home to an impressive colony of glow-worms in the roof of the cave. Glow-worms are actually larval stages of a small fly, rather than worms, and their tiny bodies produce bioluminescence—‘living light’—creating a nightly ‘show’ visitors love. All this in one of the world’s most ancient rainforest environments! Join a tour group or take yourself there—you won’t be disappointed.

    Birds

    Watch, spot and ‘twitch’ to your heart’s content in parks all over Queensland. More than 660 species of birds call Queensland ‘home’, and their songs, flight, feeding and breeding activity are a non-stop performance.

    No matter which park you visit, you’re bound to see birds, whether new ‘ticks’ or old friends! Here’s just a taste!

    You’ll find dedicated birdwatching  hides at Townsville Town Common, Hasties Swamp, Lake Broadwater Conservation Park, Burrum Coast National Park (Walkers Point) and Keatings Lagoon where you can quietly observe waders, waterbirds and woodland birds without disturbance.

    In summer, spend hours with bird book, binos or the ‘scope’ in hand, spotting and identifying migratory shorebirds as well as seabirds in the coastal areas of Moreton Bay Marine Park and the island environments of Capricornia Cays, Keppel Bay Islands and Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park to name just a few places!

    Time spent around the World Heritage rainforests of Lamington, Springbrook and Main Range national parks will reward you with a breathtaking variety of forest birds. Similarly, the World Heritage rainforests of Paluma Range, Mount Lewis and Daintree national parks are just some of the birdwatching drawcards in the Wet Tropics.

    Away from the coast, our inland parks offer very different birdwatching experiences. When full of water, Lake Broadwater is a magnet for waterbirds, as are the waterholes of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) while the wetlands of Currawinya make this park one of Australia’s most important inland waterbird habitats.

    Enjoy spotting a variety of woodland birds as well as waterbirds in outback and sandstone country parks such as, Boodjamulla, Sundown and Carnarvon national parks.

    Wildlife all around

    Beyond our ‘hero’ wildlife encounters, you’ll see and hear Queensland’s natural inhabitants every time you visit a national park. It’s one of the best reasons to visit, and creates very special memories.

    The Outback is the place to see ‘Big Red’ kangaroos; and agile wallabies live on and around the beach at Cape Hillsborough. Iconic tree-kangaroos and a variety of possums can be spotted in the national parks of Tropical North Queensland.

    Immerse yourself in a colourful carnival of fish, dolphins, dugongs and sea turtles which inhabit the waters of Queensland’s marine parks. Snorkelling and diving are the best ways to enjoy the ever-changing show.

    Stay safe

    Some of our iconic wildlife is potentially dangerous so admire from a safe distance. Wongari (dingoes) are often spotted on K’gari (Fraser Island), cassowaries call Tropical North Queensland home and estuarine crocodiles live in many of the national parks in the regions of Townsville, Whitsundays and the Tropical North. Remember to be dingo-safe, be cass-o-wary and be crocwise.

    For your own safety, and for the safety of our wildlife, please read how to be wildlife aware.

    Visit individual park pages on our website before you go to find what wildlife you might see, download a species list to search for or simply start your journey and see who scurries, flies or glides by while you’re there.