Australia has some of the most unusual and adorable wildlife on earth, but we don’t have a seasonal land event like Kenya’s wildebeest migration or the millions of red crabs that annually move across neighbouring Christmas Island. Typically, tourists visit the popular landmarks and hope they stumble across some roos, emus, and — of course — koalas along the way.
The newly-formed Australian Wildlife Journeys group intends to change that. It’s the brainchild of Craig Wickham of Exceptional Kangaroo Island, conceived after his visitors would come to the island for the wildlife and then ask where they could have similar experiences elsewhere across Australia.
It didn’t take long for him to discover there were a lot of like-minded outdoor companies around the country. Adelaide-based John Daw became Executive Officer and Australian Wildlife Journeys was born. It’s an impressive collection for anyone with an interest in wildlife. There are currently 12 operators in the group, which is expected to expand.
They include Exmouth Diving Centre who started boat tours to swim with whale sharks and more recently introduced swimming with humpback whales off Exmouth, Western Australia.
Lady Elliot Island is home to an array of marine life and unspoilt coral reef
On the other side of the country, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort on the Queensland coral cay lets you dive off the beach to meet the many resident manta rays. Arkaba is in South Australia’s picturesque Flinders Ranges where the wildlife is set against ancient colourful mountains.
Going Off Safaris on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia provides the chance to swim with Australian sea lions or cage dive with Great White sharks. Oz Whale Watching has self-evident activities out of Sydney and Wildlife Coast Cruises reveals the diversity of wildlife off Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom. Also in Victoria, Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours in Gippsland has been bringing people and wildlife together — to their mutual benefit — for more than two decades.
In Tasmania, the Maria Island Walk reveals that the island is not just an early penal colony but also a refuge for endangered creatures from the swift parrot to Tasmanian devils. Premier Travel Tasmania takes you out to find a whole range of the state’s wildlife including quolls, bandicoots, potoroos, bettongs, wallabies, platypus, and wombats.
The clever feature of Australian Wildlife Journeys is the site’s cross-referencing. Of course, you can look at what’s available at a destination you’re visiting, but you may also be interested in just a part of the natural world. Be it birds, fish, marine mammals, land mammals and marsupials, reptiles, or invertebrates — the site will direct you where to go and inform you of what you may see. Maybe you just wish to take a wildlife safari, or go snorkelling or diving — you can sort the varied offerings that way, too.
There’s even a list of where to go — and when — to find baby animals. For international visitors, there’s “The Three Icons” tour that takes in the wildlife around Sydney, the Red Centre, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Mobs of kangaroos will delight you on an Aussie outback safari
Ultimately, there will be an interactive calendar where you can specify when you’re available to travel and it’ll show where to go to make the most of the wildlife that season.
The idea of aggregating special-interest travel across Australia isn’t new. It’s also worth taking a look at Great Walks of Australia and Luxury Lodges of Australia. You’ll find significant overlap between the three groups. All are a reminder of what makes Australia special; stay somewhere nice, get some exercise in some of the most remarkable scenery in the world, and meet some of the unique creatures that we share our country with.
Talking to the individual operators of Australian Wildlife Journeys is inspiring, even when they’re away from their natural outdoor setting. All have an enthusiasm to show visitors our wildlife in the wild. They are also united in their passion for conservation so that what we have now is not lost for future generations.
For those of us who are delighted when a wallaby shows up on a bush drive, or who share the thrill of discovering a koala up a tree in a campground, Australian Wildlife Journeys is a great portal to discover more with the experts.
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Image credits: Australian Wildlife Journeys, Tourism Queensland, Tourism Tasmania, Arkaba, Ben Brown.