Wildlife in Queensland

Queensland boasts the world’s largest coral reef, tropical and subtropical islands, large areas of rainforests with extensive networks of safe walking tracks, and vast outback areas including fossil digs and Ramsar-listed outback lakes.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, a huge 2000km long structure of corals, with associated manta rays, turtles, sea urchins, anemones, large and colourful molluscs, and myriads of tropical reef fish. Snorkeling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef ranks as one of the world’s great wildlife experiences.

Closer to shore, in the warm waters of Queensland’s coasts, you can also come face-to-face with turtles while diving or watch them  come ashore to lay their eggs, feed a friendly wild dolphin (strictly regulated to avoid harmful effects), see the giant humpbacks breaching and playing (including at Australia’s largest whale-watching centre, Hervey Bay) or look for the quietly-grazing dugongs in the sea-grass beds. Mon Repos Turtle Rookery near Bundaberg is the largest hatching ground in eastern Australia for green, loggerhead and Australian flatback turtles. The best time  to see the turtles nesting is after dark during the months of November to February. Visitors must enter with a guide from National Parks.

The rainforests of Queensland harbour the world’s only two species of that best of all mimics, the lyrebird, plus  bowerbirds, birds of paradise (riflebirds and manucodes), fruit pigeons, glow worms, bandicoots, geckos, possums, many species of bats and  frogs,  and much more.  

In the far north (Daintree, Cape Tribulation, Atherton Tableland etc.) are musky rat-kangaroos (tiny animals somewhat similar to the ancestral kangaroos of many million years ago), tree-kangaroos, cassowaries, Boyd’s forest dragon and some of Australia’s biggest and brightest butterflies.. In fact, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is home to 30% of Australia’s marsupial species, 60% of its bats, 30% of its frogs, 23% of its reptiles and 18% of its birds. In the very far north (Cape Yorke Penonsular) and shared with New Guinea is the large and spectacular palm cockatoo.

Subtropical rainforests in southern Queensland harbour both species of lyrebird and their own share of bowerbirds, pademelons, pythons and many others, and the world’s only subtropical bird of paradise. The walking tracks in Lamington National Park (close to Brisbane and the Gold Coast) are extensive,  offering one of the world’s best and safest rainforest experiences. A few areas of cool temperate rainforest (somewhat similar to those of New Zealand and the Andes) can be seen in the higher altitudes here.

Near Brisbane also you can see  koalas, possums, gliders, kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, platypus, dugong, humpback whales and dolphins. Moreton Island is a wildlife haven where hundreds of species of seabirds and shorebirds congregate and friendly wild dolphins are fed at the popular Tangalooma Resort.

Much of Queensland is also outback, with red sands, red kangaroos and plenty of emus, Major Mitchell cockatoos and a great variety of other parrots and lizards. Two of Australia’s most important lakes for outback waterbirds are at Currawinya National Park. In the north are many fossil finds – the ‘dinosaur trail’ of Winton, Hughenden etc., and the more recent (~15 million years) mammal and reptile digs at Riversleigh that revolutionized much of our understanding of our fauna’s history, on display in a museum at Mt Isa.

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