Cairns, Port Douglas and their surrounds are not only home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and locations in all of Australia (including the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef), this region (i.e. Tropical Far North Queensland) is also one of the best in Australia to experience the country’s array of unique and stunning wildlife.
Whether you are dying to see a cute and fluffy koala, hopping kangaroos or wallabies, spiky echidnas, hairy wombats, adorable platypuses, inquisitive Tasmanian Devils, giant emus, laughing kookaburras, enormous cassowaries, crocodiles, turtles, lizards or Australia’s native dogs, dingoes, Tropical Far North Queensland is an amazing place to see and learn about Australia’s incredible animals, which live and thrive in many varied natural environments all over the country.
Two of the area’s finest wildlife parks are the Wildlife Habitat, which is located just off Captain Cook Highway at the beginning of the seaside township of Port Douglas (roughly one hour north of Cairns), as well as Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, which is situated in a very small township called Wangetti Beach (approximately 40 minutes north of Cairns).
This article would not be complete without mentioning the abundance of spectacular sea life that live on the magical Great Barrier Reef, including countless different species of hard and soft coral, stunning tropical fish, majestic rays, crustaceans, dolphins and whales, in addition to six of the world’s total of seven marine turtle species! Fitzroy Island, a stunning tropical island paradise, is located just 30km off the coast of Cairns, is easily accessible and is a fabulous place for seeing Green Turtles up close, whether by snorkelling or diving straight off the shore, or by visiting the island’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
Image Credit: nationalgeographic.com.au
Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas
The Wildlife Habitat, located in Port Douglas, is one of Tropical Far North Queensland’s most unique locations for experiencing Australia’s beautiful wildlife up close. The Wildlife Habitat is home to a number of different species of Aussie mammals, reptiles and birds, and interestingly, is split into four different North Queensland natural environments: Rainforest, Savannah, Wetlands and Woodland.
At the Wildlife Habitat, you will have the opportunity to spot a variety of different famous Australian mammals, such as cute koalas, bouncing kangaroos, and a similar but much smaller animal, the Australian wallaby. Approximately 75 different species of birds live among the park, including Tropical Far North Queensland’s famous giant cassowary, as well as cheeky cockatoos, breathtaking finches and stunning parrots. When it comes to reptiles, you will be in awe of the Wildlife Habitat’s resident crocodiles, enormous pythons as well as amazing dragons.
There are a variety of scheduled feeding tours for visitors to the park to partake in, as well as fascinating presentations regarding different Australian animals. Also on offer are a number of awesome experiences, unique to the Wildlife Habitat, such as Wildnight Nocturnal Tours, and their most famous experience, Breakfast with the Birds.
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Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Wangetti Beach
Situated nearby to Cairns (just 40 minutes away), you shall find the awe-inspiring Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures ecotourism park – one of the top places in all of the country to (safely!) experience up close these incredible creatures. Hartley’s, as it is referred to by locals, is open 364 days a year (all but Christmas Day), and in addition to crocodiles, a number of other Australian animals call the park home, too. With so much to see and do at the park, you really do need at least half a day (a full day is often best) to soak up everything on offer.
Some of Hartley’s spectacular crocodile experiences include an enclosed boat cruise on Hartley’s Lagoon (where you can see crocodiles up close in a natural Australian setting), Crocodile Feeding and the spine-tingling Crocodile Attack Show! Other Aussie wildlife presentations worth checking out are the Snake Show, Koala Feeding, Cassowary Feeding and Wetland Wildlife, as well as Wallaby and Quoll Feeding. Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is an experience you simply can’t miss when visiting the area!
Fitzroy Island, off the coast of Cairns
Located a short boat ride away (just 45 minutes) from the Cairns Marina, you can find yourself stepping onto the beautiful sand of stunning tropical Fitzroy Island. Fitzroy Island is situated amongst the Great Barrier Reef and is an amazing place to visit, not only for the island’s beauty itself, but for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the sea life that call the waters surrounding the island home (including beautiful tropical fish and majestic Green Turtles).
Whether you choose to visit Fitzroy Island for the day, or you have some days up your sleeve to relax and unwind on the island at Fitzroy Island Resort, it is a fabulous place for nature and animal lovers to visit. In addition to seeing up close the sea and land wildlife that live around and on Fitzroy Island, you shall also have the opportunity to take part in a daily tour of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (subject to conditions). The Centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation and nurturing of sick and/or injured sea turtles, with the hope of releasing them back into their ocean home.