4 Animal Encounters on Hamilton Island, Queensland
One of the most amazing things about Queensland's Hamilton Island is its wondrous array of wildlife (for the nature lovers among you, this is definitely the place to get your David Attenborough on). Here are four incredible creatures you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into with minimum effort during your stay.
I was lucky enough to visit Hamilton Island for three days in March this year, checking in at the fantastic Reef View Hotel – and what a view it was! I arrived with no expectations and had done ZERO research on what I might come across during my trip. Needless to say, I was somewhat startled – and chuffed to bits – when I stepped out of the lobby on day one to find a mob (what a great collective noun!) of these on the lawn…
Having spent an entire day on the Great Ocean Road searching high and low for even a glimpse of a kangaroo (to no avail), within minutes of being on Hamilton Island, I found three wallabies right on my doorstep. And this wasn’t a one-off, either – there were wallabies on my lawn, every single day, for three days! Despite being more active in the early morning (and I’m no ‘lark’, believe me) and in the evening (when I was usually out having dinner), I didn’t have to go hunting for them, either – they were right there in plain sight! These herbivores would come to trim the lawn, and also seemed rather partial to all the fallen fruits. On one memorable occasion, I even managed to film a full-blown boxing match between two joeys; their mother seemed oblivious to the ruckus behind her, merrily munching away on grass and leaves. These marsupials are an absolute joy to behold, but don’t get too close – whilst they might seem tame and amiable, those hind legs can deliver a pretty powerful kick.
Anyone with a fear of bats should probably steer clear of this place. Black flying foxes, or giant fruit bats – which are among the largest bats in the world – were also a daily sighting during my brief encounter with Hamilton Island. The treetops are practically festooned with them – and they are HUGE. These mammals have a colossal wingspan of up to 6ft, making them clearly visible, even at great heights. By day, you’ll see the cocooned, leathery bundles of their wing-wrapped bodies dangling upside down from the branches as they roost in their colonies, trying to keep cool (it was 40°C with around 90% humidity during my stay, so that would have been quite a task in itself). And at dusk, they take flight to hunt for food – and that’s when you’ll witness the imposing spectacle of thousands of flying foxes swarming in an endless stream across the sunset skies. A truly impressive (albeit slightly unsettling) sight.
Sulphur-crested cockatoos – the ones with the white feathers and yellow mohicans – are EVERYWHERE on Hamilton Island. In fact, within moments of unpacking my suitcase in the hotel, the front cover of my Flight Centre itinerary brochure came to life before my very eyes…
These friendly fellas are naturally curious, highly intelligent, and very noisy – and somewhat larger than you might expect, once you get up close. They’re also exceptional thieves, as I witnessed first-hand. On one occasion, a cockatoo landed up on my balcony with a 16” pizza (the poor owners had only managed to get one slice before their meal became airborne). On another, I found two in my bed, having nipped to the bathroom for all of 60 seconds. They flew off with the TV remote; it could have been a whole lot worse (amongst other things lying within reach were my passport and iPhone – and at least they hadn’t got round to ‘redecorating’). Whatever you do, PLEASE remember to keep your doors and windows locked at all times because these feathered fiends will think nothing of popping in to trash the place while no-one’s home – they’ll make Goldilocks look like Mother Teresa. You’ve been warned.
Rainbow lorikeets – psychedelic, medium-sized members of the parrot family – were another wonderful surprise. These flamboyant birds, aptly named after their eye-searingly bright plumage – think Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, with wings – are in plentiful supply on Hamilton Island. Their stunning feathers are predominantly neon green (including their backs, wings and tails), whilst they sport a blue face, red beak and yellowy-orange breast. Often spotted flying in large flocks, things can get a little raucous round here! They’re also incredibly fast, making it pretty tricky to fully appreciate their splendour – mainly appearing as beautiful flashes of colour flitting through the treetops. The best place to see them up close (which I wish I’d known at the time) is down by the marina. Apparently, there’s always a few lorikeets loitering around for leftovers – so for the budding wildlife photographers among you, be sure to head down there for that perfect Kodak moment.
Check out our range of Queensland holiday ideas, and chat to one of our Travel Experts about tailor making your Hamilton Island adventure.