Where to spot wild native animals around Brisbane

The south east of Queensland is home to unique Australian wildlife that hop, swim and crawl through their natural habitats around Brisbane. Most of these creatures can be seen in a zoo or wildlife park, but spotting them in the wild is a rewarding experience. 

Brisbane is the heart of koala, kangaroo and marine life territory, so make a day of it and try the following places for a glance into the wild.  

On land

Wallabies and kangaroos everywhere

What is a wallaby? Is it the kangaroo’s prettier, smaller cousin? A sunset at Sirromet calls for a glass of wine and a keen eye for wallaby spotting, as this is when our hopping friends are most prevalent.  Out in the Scenic Rim, wallabies like to hide out in the lavender bushes at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm too. 

Then of course the coastline of North Stradbroke Island is abundant with both wallabies and kangaroos – can you tell them apart? 

Cuddly Koalas

Brisbane Koala Bushlands

Everyone’s favourite furry friends are most commonly seen at Brisbane Koala Bushlands – a network of natural areas set aside to protect koalas. Visiting Daisy Hill Conservation Park guarantees a sighting – primarily because there is a small koala centre on site housing education koalas that can’t be released back into the wild.

Other favourite hiding spots can be found among the gums on North Stradbroke Island or The Hollow Log Country Retreat. So grab your binoculars and look to the trees where you could find these cuddly marsupials chomping on fresh gum leaves. Check out all the spots to find koalas around Brisbane

Platypus playing

Stroll along the creek that winds through O’Reilly’s vineyard and keep your eyes peeled for the water-dwelling platypus that could be splashing around – go that extra mile to the viewing platform for a higher chance of spotting our duck-billed friend. 

Possums

Possums love to eat and sleep so head to Brisbane Botanical Gardens, Lamington National Park or every suburb around Brisbane and search the fruit trees for a bundle of fur. They are a nocturnal animal so won’t be in action throughout the day, but they’ll probably peep a head out to make sure you’re not a threat. 

Bird watching 

There are plenty of key spots for bird watching around Brisbane. See a variety of birds while you stroll through the Black Swamp Wetlands in Cleveland or on a visit to the bird garden at Redlands Indigiscapes. Can you spot the threatened Glossy Black Cockatoos, Powerful Owls or Lewins Rails?

Picnic by the Lagoon at Mt Coot-tha’s Botanic Gardens to spy swamp hens, ducks, ibis and bush turkeys roaming, swimming and diving. Explore Boondall Wetlands and discover over 170 bird species or take a bigger leap and find over 350 species in Pumicestone Passage – catch a glimpse of some migrating species not common to the area.  

Curlews among the trees

Bird enthusiasts can find curlews, a large and mainly nocturnal ground bird, all over Straddie, Coochimudlo Island and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, but the easiest spot to find them is at QPAC in the heart of the city. Yes! A family of curlews call the arts centre home. You’ll know they are close when you hear the high-pitched wailing contact call.  

Snakes

Australia is known to have the most venomous snakes in the world and the Brisbane region is no exception, so although you may want to keep your distance, the best place to find these slithering reptiles is on a bush walk through one of the many rainforests – always keep your distance! 

Coastal 

Dugongs in the Bay

These harmless vegetarians – often called sea cows – can be spotted in the shallow waters around Amity Point jetty and Moreton Island as they feed on seagrass growing on the ocean floor. Don’t have a boat? Let someone else do the sailing and check out the sailing tours available around Brisbane.

Manta Rays with Manta Lodge 

Take nature spotting to the next level and head on a scuba expedition off the shores of North Stradbroke with the experts from Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre. Spot the resident manta ray pod at Shag Rock or Flat Rock during the warmer months and see a different side to these gentle giants. 

Dolphins in the surf 

Dolphin Feeding at Tangalooma Island Resort

Dolphins are very common to spot in the warm waters of South East Queensland. Feed wild bottlenose dolphins nightly at Tangalooma Island Resort. The same family pod has been coming to the jetty for over 35 years. Over on North Stradbroke Island, sit on the headland or near the gorge walk at Point Lookout and watch them playing in the surf.  

Turtles along the shoreline

Grab a gelato from Oceanic Gelato and watch the water along the North Straddie shoreline and Gorge Walk for these tiny shelled creatures in their natural habitat – Make use of your day on Stradbroke and discover 42 other things to do on the island.

If you’re not on the coast, then spy up to a dozen turtles bobbing around the dam wall at Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim.

Stingrays and crabs in the shallows

Head to the shores of Sandgate and Shorncliffe where at low tide the shallow waters reveal a variety of marine wildlife. Slowly walk the foreshore and look out for the herds of soldier crabs as they scuttle along the sand. Alternatively, wait for low tide at Wellington Point and take the sea walk over to King Island – mud crabs and stingrays inhabit this area – don’t dawdle and get stuck on the island as the tide comes back quite fast! 

Whales

Whale Watching

The start of Brisbane’s winter months means only one thing – the whales are returning! There are a number of vantage points along the coast perfect for spotting these majestic creatures meander through the water including Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island and Cape Moreton on Moreton Island. If you want to get up close and personal, then leave it to the professionals and join one of the many whale-watching cruises. Read through our whale-watching guide to find your perfect whale-watching experience.

Jellyfish 

A creature that looks innocent and peaceful in the water but comes with a nasty sting – Blue Bottle Jellyfish. Head to the end of Shorncliffe Pier and look into the watery depths below to catch a glimpse of the bright blue forms swimming through the water. Best to stay away from these ones unless you have a bottle of vinegar handy. Here’s 27 other things to do in Sandgate, Brighton and Shorncliffe.

Sharks

After watching Jaws, you may be apprehensive about seeing sharks in the wild, but a number of locations along the south eastern Queensland coast house harmless sharks. Visit the Tangalooma Wrecks to find bottom-dwelling wobbegong sharks or the Flat Rock dive site on North Stradbroke Island for sand tiger sharks – although there are no confirmed human fatalities, we suggest you quietly observe with no provocation. 

Fish

Want to see fish outside a tank? Grab your snorkel and head to Moreton Island where the Tangalooma Wrecks are teeming with marine life. Home to more than 175 species of reef fish, they are unmoved by human presence so you can examine them closely in the crystal-clear water. Turn this reef outing into a day trip and discover 35 other things to do on Moreton Island

Find other schools of fish among Flinders Reef, Moreton Island or Amity Point and Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island – Mum always said there were other fish in the sea.

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