From cuddling a koala twenty minutes outside of downtown Adelaide at Cleland Wildlife Park, to getting up-close to an amazing array of Australian flora and fauna on Kangaroo Island, South Australia is known for its wildlife encounters and is the perfect place to channel your inner Dundee.
1. CUDDLE KOALAS AND KANGAROOS AT CLELAND, ADELAIDE HILLS
Ever wished you could see Australia’s most iconic animals in one convenient location? Welcome to Cleland Wildlife in the Adelaide Hills, where you can get your picture snapped while cuddling adorable koalas and discovering must-see native species. Take a stroll around the park, getting up-close to over 130 species including kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies, emus, dingos and even Tasmanian devils with no boundaries.
Image: Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide Hills
2. SEE KOALAS IN THE WILD AT MIKKIRA STATION, EYRE PENINSULA
Whether you’re getting up-close in national parks or venturing further afield, you’re guaranteed to encounter iconic Australian wildlife on the Eyre Peninsula. See koalas at eye level in their own habitat at Mikkira Station: home to a wild koala colony just outside Port Lincoln. Bring a picnic and chill out under leafy gum trees, or stay the night in picture-perfect camping areas, surrounded by koalas and birdlife living freely.
Image: Just outside Mikkira Station, Eyre Peninsula by Nullarbor Travel
3. SPOT THE ELUSIVE YELLOW-FOOTED ROCK WALLABY, GAWLER RANGES
South Australia’s Gawler Ranges National Park is famous for its rugged rock formations, red soil and distinctive crevices, etched deep into the land. It’s also one of the best places to spot the elusive yellow-footed rock wallaby (a small kangaroo) in the wild. Keep your eyes peeled as you navigate the scrub. You might even see shy southern hairy-nosed wombats foraging for food and pygmy possums hanging from ghostly gums.
Image: Yellow-footed rock wallaby, Gawler Ranges
4. SWIM WITH SEA LIONS, EYRE PENINSULA
South Australia’s beautiful clear waters make it the perfect place to take an ocean dip with sea lions. Friendly, playful and undeniably cute, our aptly nicknamed “puppies of the sea” are a hit with the whole family. Wild, but not shy, Eyre Peninsula sea lions will swim right up to you. Duck, dive, roll and race – just don’t expect to be the star of the show. The best place to go swimming with sea lions is the Eyre Peninsula, in the sheltered waters of Boston Bay off Port Lincoln (a 50 minute flight from Adelaide) or at Baird Bay near Streaky Bay (about 3.5 hours drive from Port Lincoln). Operators include Adventure Bay Charters, Calypso Star Charters and Adventure Bay Charters.
Image: Swimming with sea lions, Baird Bay, Eyre Peninsula
5. WALK AMONG A COLONY OF SEALS, KANGAROO ISLAND
Kangaroo Island is known to be a mecca for wildlife. Seal Bay has been home to an Australian sea lion population for thousands of years and offers one of the most exceptional nature-based experiences in Australia. There are no enclosures or cages at Seal Bay. Instead, you will be guided to walk onto the beach and into the heart of the colony where experienced guides will teach you about these endangered animals. This place is a resting spot for seals who have been hunting for food between 2-3 days so they relish in the white sand and are happy to have you visit them as they rest. If you prefer, you can set your own pace on the wheelchair accessible (return) boardwalk which meanders through the dunes to a number of viewing platforms.
Image: Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island by Nikki Redman with KI Odysseys
6. CAGE DIVE WITH GREAT WHITE SHARKS, EYRE PENINSULA
Kiss your hang-ups goodbye and descend into the depths on a shark cage dive just off the coast of the Eyre Peninsula, near Neptune Islands. Leave your inhibitions at check-in, squeeze into a wetsuit and get up-close to nature’s most efficient predator – the great white shark. Two tour operators offer shark cage diving in South Australia – Adventure Bay Charter, Calypso Star Charters and Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. For those not wanting to get wet, Adventure Bay Charters offers prime viewing of the underwater action from the safety of a glass aqua-sub.
Image: Shark Cage Diving by @calypsostarcharters, Eyre Pensinsula
7. SWIM WITH DOLPHINS, ADELAIDE
Dive into a crystal-clear underwater world and join wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Leap, splash and play until your heart is content. Frolic with a pod of 25 resident dolphins at Baird Bay with Baird Bay Ocean Eco-Experience. Sail from Glenelg beach, 15 minutes from downtown Adelaide, on a catamaran with Temptation Sailing, which offers dolphin viewing and swimming experiences. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures offers charters from Kingscote and Emu Bay to remote coastal beaches where you can swim with wild bottlenose dolphins and frolic with seals.
Image: Temptation Sailing, Glenelg, Adelaide
8. WATCH WHALES AND THEIR CALVES ON THEIR MIGRATION FROM ANTARCTICA, EYRE PENINSULA
There are some spectacular sights along the South Australian coast, but nothing compares to the annual southern right whale migration in May and October. One of the most popular places to see these gentle 90-tonne giants of the sea is at Head of Bight on the Eyre Peninsula. Visitors follow a cliff-top boardwalk to a viewing platform where migrating whales can be marvelled at, or can take a scenic flight where it’s not unusual to see more than four whales at one time, close to shore. Find out more at the Head of Bight Interpretive Centre on the Nullarbor Plain coastline.
Image: Chinta Wheels and Whales, Head of Bight, Eyre Peninsula
9. MEET LOCAL EMUS AT INNES NATIONAL PARK, YORKE PENINSULA
Located at the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula, Innes National Park is surrounded by perfect beaches, outstanding surf and dramatic cliffs. Even though it’s only three hours’ drive away from Adelaide, you could easily spend days exploring with darting emus as your only companions. It’s wilderness at its most seductive and beautiful. Re-charge at the luxurious Yondah Beach House with your own private beach and outdoor shower; nearby lies the historic Inneston ghost town, the fascinating Ethel shipwreck and some of the most beautiful beaches in South Australia.
Image: Emus, Innes National Park, Eyre Peninsula
10. EXPERIENCE KANGAS AND KANAPES, KANGAROO ISLAND
Southern Ocean Lodge is an exclusive, ultra-luxurious property on Kangaroo Island – a stand out property from the Luxury Lodges of Australia collection, located on a cliff with spectacular views of Hanson Bay. Each suite looks out to the Southern Ocean and is surrounded by native bushland. The remote, wild location is matched by intimate service, sumptuous food and alcohol, modern architecture and plush comforts. Included in your stay are a fantastic range of Island experiences including Kangas and Kanapes – an up-close and personal meet-and-greet with local roos, accompanied by a range of delectable canapes and champagne.
Image: Waves and Wildlife, Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island