A few years ago we profiled Michelle Sole, a former female guide for Marataba Safari Lodge. Since then, she left Marataba to spend a year traveling the world. Here she shares her experiences tracking the abundant Australian wildlife for photographs.
Australia is well known for its weird and wonderful wildlife. As a wildlife fanatic I found myself researching the best possible places to see some of Australia's iconic wildlife. I get a thrill tracking and then photographing animals in their natural environment. Of course, finding animals in the wild requires above all else patience. Australia is massive and with time and budget constraints I chose to stick to the Eastern coast. I took a month-long drive from Sydney to Cairns and back again.
Kangaroos & Wallabies
My first mission was to find a kangaroo and a wallaby. A highlight of my time in Australia was at Cape Hillsborough. This is one of the few places known that kangaroos and wallabies actually come onto the beach. The reason they do is to eat mangrove seeds that are brought in with the changing tides. It's best to arrive at the beach at dawn before first light. As the sun slowly begins to rise you can make out the silhouettes of the wallabies and kangaroos as they forage through the sand. These animals are use to being photographed. And, they are very inquisitive as well. I had an Eastern Grey kangaroo come and smell my feet!
Koala was next on my list to photograph. Koalas are difficult to locate as they spend most of the day resting in the trees. Unless you are really looking for them you will drive straight past. Noosa Heads National Park seemed a good place to begin my search though. The information center keeps a record of recent sightings. Often koalas like to perch in the fork of the tree and curl up. Be sure to look closely in eucalyptus trees as the leaves from this tree makes up their diet.
The platypus has long been an animal that fascinates me. It has hair, lays eggs, and suckles its young! I figured by chances of seeing a platypus in the wild were slim. Furthermore, even if I did see one I figured it would be fleeting and near impossible to photograph. I was wrong and gratefully so. Eungella National Park is where I spotted these elusive creatures. Like kangaroos and wallabies, they are crepuscular so you time your search to early morning and late afternoon. Be patient and silent as you wait for one to appear. And, be sure to scan the still water for bubbles as this is often an indicator of where they are foraging for small creatures below the surface. The platypus has to come up to breath and to chew their prey though. So, this will be your opportunity to snap a photograph.
Estuarine crocodiles are found along the northern part of the east coast of Australia. Several outfitters in Daintree National Park specialize in river boat trips where you have a good chance of spotting one of these prehistoric apex predators. Keep in mind, Estuarine crocodiles are found in the ocean in this area so as tempting as it may look, do not go for a swim!
Wombats are amazingly cute bundles of fluff. We were fortunate to see lots of them at Bendeela Picnic site, Kangaroo Valley. They come out to graze at dusk and dawn. If you sit quietly they will most likely walk within feet of you.
Hikes in the Bush
Short hikes through the bush are also rewarding for viewing and photographing Australian wildlife. You can explore well-marked trails at night with a decent flashlight. On a number of these walks, we saw pademelons, wallabies, cane toads, flying foxes, bandicoot, and possums.
Finding wild animals can be a challenge. And, please don't feed wild animals in an attempt to see them better. It is not fair on the animal and defeats the point of viewing them in the wild.
There is a lot of wildlife to be found in Australia, therefore make sure to give yourself enough time. I have only mentioned here the animals that you can see from the land - Australia's ocean is a whole other story!
Track Australia's Wildlife with
Ker & Downey
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