Whitsundays Animal Species
Australia is arguably home to some of the most unique animals on the planet. The Whitsundays, located in tropical north Queensland on the east coast of Australia is a great place to meet them! Here are some of the commonly-sighted creatures both on the mainland and under the water.
Green Sea Turtles
There are 7 different types of sea turtles in the world, and of these 6 can be found in Australian coastal waters! You are just about guaranteed to see and even swim alongside these special species on a day or overnight sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands. Green turtles, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles are often spotted bobbing up for a breath on the surface, or if you are visiting one of the popular snorkel sites, such as Blue Pearl Bay or Langford Reef, they may just be cruising around under the water! Turtles are very chilled out, but it is always a good idea to give them room when swimming with them. Make sure you have your selfie stick and GoPro charged up for the perfect selfie!
Proserpine Rock Wallaby
A special breed of wallaby which is native to the Whitsundays mainland and islands, the Proserpine Rock Wallaby is an endangered species with just a few hundred animals remaining. While in bushland, certainly keep your eyes open for this smaller breed of wallabies. Their diet consists mostly of grass, and you can find them in quieter undeveloped areas having a nibble during dawn and dusk. Some unique places to spot them include the island resorts like Daydream and Hamilton Island, and you can even find them on the beach in Cape Hillsborough further south!
The Whitsundays is fortunate to be a popular breeding ground for humpback and pilot whales during their annual migration from Antarctica. Whale season is generally in the cooler months between July to September, and with increasing populations, they have been arriving earlier and staying later. It is a very frequent occurrence to see a pod of whales or a mother and calf playing and breaching around the Whitsunday islands during the winter, and booking an overnight charter boat gives you the best chance of hearing them sing under the water when you are sleeping in a hull!
Manta rays also have a migration season, and while they are generally known further south, you can still spot them in the Whitsundays during winter time. This species of ray is certainly a special sighting in the Whitsundays, with many travellers wanting to tick off the ‘manta ray’ on their bucket list! These unique, elegant marine creatures glide around the islands and reefs, with Manta Ray Bay being the hot spot to see them at certain times of the year. Tours that offer diving are your best bet for seeing these amazing creatures in the wild, and there are several boats to choose from.
These large reptiles dwell in rivers and creeks around the Whitsundays and are a thrilling sight to see in their natural habitat. The best way to see a saltwater croc in the wild is on the Crocodile Safari which takes passengers along the Proserpine River, where there their numbers are in the hundreds! You can also experience them up close on several other wildlife experiences available. Though croc sightings around the Whitsunday islands are rare, it is important to be aware of these creatures, and never enter the water with warning signs posted about crocodiles.
There is no shortage of beautiful and exotic birds in the Whitsunday region. You can spot (and hear) noisy sulphur-crested cockatoos, enchanting rainbow lorikeets, and the sinister looking and sorrowful sounding curlews just about anywhere. Other species including the largest kingfisher, the kookaburra, and bush turkeys are also very common in the region. You can read more about the plethora of feathered friends who call the Whitsundays home here.
Undoubtedly Australia is known for its fair share of creepy crawlies, and the Whitsundays is no exception. While there are many types of snakes, spiders and lizards found in the Whitsundays, they are not dangerous and usually quite shy (albeit BIG). Most commonly spotted snake is the green tree snake, which is harmless (and quite cute!). Another commonly spotted Whitsundays local is Australia's largest snake, the scrub python, can reach up to 8.5 metres! Venomous species to watch out for include the eastern brown snake and a taipan-A good rule of thumb is if you're unsure, steer clear!
Spiders in the Whitsundays are not lethal, like their cousins down south in NSW, but they can give a nasty bite. Like most things in the tropical north, they get BIG... The appropriately named bird-eating spider is one of the largest and most gruesome looking, and yes, they are called that for a reason. Huntsman spiders are probably most common, and they are named for their method of catching food, as they don't stay in one place for long. So if you see one, don't worry they probably won't be there tomorrow! The golden orb spider spins intricate webs and can grow as large as your hand. They tend to dwell high up in trees, so keep your eye out above you on bush walks.
Lizards and Frogs
If you're heading to Whitehaven Beach, you're likely to run into a Goanna, or lace monitor lizard. They are most often sighted on south Whitehaven Beach near the day picnic area, or on north Whitehaven on the bush walk to Hill Inlet. Small Asian geckos are common in most households and are an introduced species. They are completely harmless, and even cute-Listen out for their chirping! Green tree frogs like the wet, and often surprise campers by hiding in outdoor toilets. The ugly cousin to the tree frog is the cane toad-Often referred to as a pest, they were introduced to Australia to take care of the cane beetle problem. Unfortunately, they never acquired a taste for them and began multiplying across the country instead. Best not to touch these guys, their backs secrete a venom that if ingested can kill an adult crocodile!
Wild Life Tours
Have your heart set on seeing something (or someone) specific, but short on time? There are several ways to tick off these bucket list Australian wildlife sitings without having to go incognito!
Bredl's Wild Farm
This is a favourite of locals and travellers alike, as Bredl is a bit of an icon in the region! This ultimate bush experience will give you a taste of the outback at Bredl's farm, while you get up close and personal with kangaroos, koalas, and even a cassowary! There's snake holding and croc feedings available as well, and you can drive or opt for a transfer add on. Check with our team of travel experts as this tour only runs on certain days.
Whitsunday Crocodile Safari
This tour is perfect for spotting saltwater crocodiles in their natural habitat. Available daily, this tour takes passengers by boat along the Proserpine River, and ventures into the estuaries and wetlands in the Whitsundays.
Wild Life Hamilton Island
There is also a small wildlife park on Hamilton Island, which includes several private experiences certain to delight guests. Cuddle a koala, pat a dingo, and watch them feed the croc in this charming feature on the resort island. Book to stay overnight, and you even have the option to have your breakfast with the koalas!
There is so much to see in the Whitsundays, but you're definitely guaranteed to sight most or all of the wonderful locals above.
Chat to our friendly local travel experts for more information on how to best meet them!