Born to be Wild: Nature Encounters in Queensland

June 17, 2015 by Tatyana Leonov

This post originally appeared on Flight Centre Australia’s blog

Underwater havens abundant in sea life, native creatures and cute critters, there’s so much wildlife to find in Queensland. Attempting to discover it all can take you from one end of Australia’s Sunshine State right to the other.

Nature encounters in Queensland provide an unforgettable adventure year-round. Get to know what wildlife you can see with this helpful guide.

Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef (image: @craigparryphotography).

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most impressive and diverse underwater expanses in the world, so it’s snorkelling and scuba diving the reef when in Queensland is a no-brainer.

With over 1,800 species of fish (including the clownfish; better known as Disney’s Nemo) and 350 types of coral, you could spend weeks, months or even years underwater and not see it all.

Day trips from one of Queensland’s many coastal centres such as Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Bundaberg, are a popular option. For serious underwater enthusiasts, there are longer live-aboard dive trips available. Or you can head out on a glass-bottom boat to view the depths from above.

Koalas

Koalas survey the landscape from the perch in the tree

Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where visitors can cuddle a koala and there are plenty of locations to snag a snuggle.

The name koala is derived from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning ‘no drink’, because koalas seldom drink (usually only during droughts or when sick) and receive most of their hydration from consuming gum leaves.

Native to Australia and famed across the globe, these marsupials are found in various habitats including the bush and coastal islands.

Cassowaries

The colourful and giant Cassowary (image: Getty)

Australia’s heaviest flightless birds (cassowaries can grow to the same height as humans) are often spotted around the luscious rainforests of North Queensland.

If you don’t see one in the wild, there are plenty of places in Queensland where you can get close to a cassowary, including at Daintree Wild Zoo, Johnstone River Crocodile Park in Innisfail and Birdworld Kuranda. These beautiful and unique birds are often distinguished by their coarse feathers and vivid blue necks.

Humpback whales

Swimming with humpback whales in Hervey Bay

There’s something magnificent about witnessing a majestic humpback whale breach and slap its unusually long fins, and in Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast (one of the only places in the world where whales come to rest and play) sightings are sure-fire from July to November.

There are a number of whale-watching tours available. Trips usually include expert commentary as well as specially designated sighting areas, spacious viewing decks and underwater viewing rooms, offering an intimate and unforgettable encounter.

Boyd forest dragons

Can you spot it? The Boyd Forest Dragon does a good job of blending in with tree bark (image: Getty)

With jagged scales on a crest behind their head, the distinctive Boyd Forest Dragon can only be spotted in the rainforests of North Eastern Queensland, predominantly around Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine, Mossman Gorge and the Malanda Falls Environmental Park.

Sightings are special because the lizards spend most of their time perched in trees, rarely moving. They are of a similar colouring to tree bark, so they easily blend into the natural surrounds and are tricky to spot.

The best way to find this rare creature is to walk slowly and scan tree trunks at about head height or lower, or by taking a guided tour led by a Mossman Gorge Indigenous guide.


You might also like:

Splash, Bike and Hike in Tropical North Queensland

13 Things Worth Travelling to Queensland For

About Tatyana Leonov

Tatyana Leonov is a travel writer and editor who is based in Sydney (when she's not on the road). She covers everything from off the beaten track to luxury travel and believes you can find inspiration anywhere if you look hard enough. For more head to www.tatyanaleonov.com.au.