Wild Australia

Grey Kangaroos, Australia

Daintree River, North Queensland, Australia.

With travel suspended during this pandemic, let’s virtually cruise over to Australia and take a look at some of their wildlife. There is no place on this planet like Australia.

 

Azure Kingfisher, Australia

 

Indigenous to Australia, kangaroos are found nowhere else in the world. In taxonomically general terms, these marsupials come in all sizes, and there are many different kinds.

 

The adult Grey Kangaroo in the first photo was human size; whereas the rock wallaby below, also a kind of kangaroo, was only about calf-high. You can imagine how tiny her joey is.

 

Kangaroo Wikipedia.

 

Mareeba Rock Wallaby, Granite Gorge, Australia

 

Kangaroos go back tens of thousands of years as you can see from this ancient Aboriginal rock art.

Ancient Kangaroo Rock Art, Kakadu NP, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander

 

Two bird species as big as humans grace the “Land of Oz”:  the cassowary and the emu.

Southern Cassowary, Australia

 

Emu, Mareeba Wetlands, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

Smaller birds, i.e. not human-sized, are equally as spectacular, including parrots, cockatoos, and kookaburras.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

Laughing Kookaburra, Australia

 

One year we were determined to spot a platypus in the wild. We did all our research as to where they live, and devoted an entire day to hiking back to a desolate place called the Black Swamp. It was over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit that day. We never found one.

 

But we were rewarded with this echidna who waddled out of a pile of dead leaves. This spiny mammal, pictured below, has its nose (“beak”) dug into the earth, hunting for ants.

Echidna, Kangaroo Island, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

Still determined to find a platypus in the wild, we returned to Australia 11 years later and hired a guide. We learned that platypus are rare to find, very shy, and prefer certain waterways on dark days.  With the guide, we quietly skulked alongside a back stream in the rain, and were thrilled to find this one.

Platypus, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

On this massive planet, only Australia and New Guinea still have monotremes, like the platypus and echidna: a mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young.

 

Reptiles are also widespread on this hot and dry continent. Some are more menacing than others….

Dragon Lizard, Australia

Crocodile, Australia, Kakadu Nat’l. Park.

 

Flying foxes, which are bats, are one of my personal favorites. We saw them flying in large flocks at dusk on their way to hunt; in the daytime they could be seen roosting in some trees. Many Australians consider them pests, they damage trees.

 

There are different species across the continent; here are two, the grey-headed and the spectacled.

Grey-headed Flying Foxes, Sydney, Australia

Pair of Spectacled Flying Foxes, Australia

 

Nocturnal creatures in wild Australia are yet another world.

 

Rufous Owl, Australia.

 

This is a sugar glider, a marsupial flying possum. They are similar to flying squirrels, but not related.

Sugar Glider, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

Even insects in Australia are extraordinary.

Ulysses Butterflies on Lantana, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

 

We’ll have to explore the underwater wild of the Great Barrier Reef another time.

 

With large marsupials hopping around and smaller ones gliding through the trees; birds that are every color of the rainbow, and some that are as big as humans; reptiles that can chew you to bits; and mammals that lay eggs, Australia has a very entertaining wildlife world.

 

Written by Jet Eliot.

All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Sydney, Australia. Photo: Athena Alexander.

Australia. Kakadu NP, Northern Territory.

101 thoughts on “Wild Australia

  1. Thank you Jet for taking me ‘back’ to Oz. I went there to visit my daughter in Melbourne a few years ago, but only managed to see some of their indigenous creatures in the zoo! (I also lost my photos of the magnificent butterflies in the butterfly house when I accidentally left my camera behind and it had gone when I went back to get it). 😥

    • Losing your camera is an unfortunate twist to your Oz trip, Mike. So I’m glad I could supply you here with a look at some of the many wild creatures on this beautiful continent. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. Thank you Jet for this fascinating tour. Australia is indeed an amazing country filled with the most extraordinary creatures. You introduced me to the Cassowary in your novel and since then I have bene fascinated by them. Emus are also incredible creatures and as for the platypus – what an exciting moment that must have been.
    I hope your creative juices are flowing and that you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet 🙂

    • I love knowing that you remember the cassowary from the Wicked Walkabout scene, Janet. They are definitely a fascinating and memorable creature. And yes, the platypus was a true and exhilarating joy. We saw one the first time with the guide, as described here. We had hired the guide for three days. After our time with him (extraordinary) was over, we went back to the same place days later and found a “platy” (as he called it) on our own. Always a true pleasure to enjoy an exchange with you, Janet. I hope your weekend is a creative and happy time, too, my friend.

  3. I love the kingfishers and Kookaburra, and I wonder are they in the same family? Seeing a platypus wow, you guys are good, and smart to hire a guide. I did notice that the crocodile has a cavity:)

    • Yes, you’re right, Bill, the kookaburra is a kingfisher. A very vocal kingfisher, and fairly easy to find. The laughing species is so glorious to hear, they’re very loud and have a jungle-like call. Smiled at your crocodile cavity joke. Enjoyed the laughing and smiling with you today, Bill, thanks so much for your visit.

    • I’m with you Craig, those outdoor adventures are my #1 place to be. And even on the quietest days, there is always something to admire. I hope your weekend is a joyful experience, dear friend. Many thanks for your words today.

  4. Jet, your fine post does an excellent job representing much of
    the wondrous wildlife of Australia. So difficult to select a favorite.
    Athena’s photos are super! Even the bats are stimulating.

    • I am smiling at your warm comment, Eddie. I had so many exquisite photos of Athena’s to choose from for this post, you’re right, it was difficult for me to select a favorite, too. The bats were stimulating indeed, and we chased them all over Sydney, and then found many more in the northern continent too. Thank you for your delightful visit today, Eddie, always a joy.

    • It was great fun to write this post and share some of my favorite Australian wild friends with you, Donna. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for your visit.

    • Great to hear from you, Teagan, thanks so much for your visit today. I’m heading your way to see what you’ve been up to lately. Hugs to you, too, my writing friend.

    • Great fun to share the wild critters of Australia with you, Timothy. Our first stop when we landed in Sydney was to the Taronga Zoo, so that we could at least see what a platypus looked like. They’re not very big, surprisingly, like the size of a house cat. Fantastic to see in the wild, and I’m happy I could share it with you. Thanks very much for your weekly visits, always appreciated.

  5. Thank you for that fabulous wildlife tour of Australia. We are grateful to have visited several years ago. Like you we searched at length for a platypus. We even stayed with friends who had seen them on their farm from time to time but no luck. Hiring a guide as you did seems like the answer. The flying foxes were pointed out to us by another blogging friend while their. I’m afraid if a flying fox had ever taken a flying leap in my direction I would have had a flying fit!

    • Once we arrived at the playpus’s stream, our guide told us what we had to do and it sounded wacky but we did it anyway. We had to wordlessly follow the guide alongside the stream, make no sound. As soon as the platypus’s head emerged from the water, we had to stop immediately in our tracks and not move an inch, the whole time he was above water. Then when the platypus went under, we continued up stream following the “platy” until his head came up and then again STOP. I share this so that next time you will know what to do. As for flying foxes, just don’t look up. ha. Always a joy to have you stop by, Sue — many thanks and warm wishes.

  6. Thank you Jet for bringing back wonderful memories from my stay in Australia as a young adult. From having to stop on the road for crossing wallabies and always checking for snakes before using the toilet – it opened my eyes to the much larger world out there. A return visit is at the top of my list of travel once that can happen again.
    Thank you for the good start of my day!

    • I am smiling to know that this post brought back happy memories of your Australian adventure, Maria. We certainly don’t forget some of the wild events that go on in this glorious place in the world. My warmest thanks for your visit… and happy adventures ahead.

    • Yes, the wildlife in Australia is indeed unique, and the wildfires are a terror to all living creatures who inhabit the continent. Thanks for your visit today, Anneli.

  7. What a wonderful whirlwind wildlife tour, Jet. One of the highlights of the post was seeing the photo of a kookaburra. I remember as a child singing the song “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” without really knowing what the bird actually looked like. I also can’t get enough of the Rainbow Lorikeet–I remember seeing photos of it for the first time a couple of years ago and could not believe that there was a real bird with so many bright colors, a virtual rainbow indeed. Those are just a few of the memorable moments from the post, which is filled with fascinating info about the almost magical creatures in Australia and wonderful photos. Thanks, Jet and Athena.

    • I am truly delighted to know you finally got to match up the laughing kookaburra song with the photo of one, Mike. We used to sing that song all the time, too, when kids. They are almost always in gum trees, and we saw them in remote places as well as in Sydney parks. As for the rainbow lorikeet, oh I know. Isn’t that the most stupendous looking bird? All those colors! We were sitting at an outdoor cafe in Sydney when one came along and snatched the opened sugar packet on our table and carried it away. Flew to a power line above us. Then we watched it consume the rest of the sugar. We saw them in so many places, but this particular five minutes was memorable. Really great to have you stop by, Mike, and thanks for the oh-so-lovely comment.

  8. I was most taken with the rock art kangaroos. Time collapses when we see such things, and realize that our ancestors were as aware of them — and fascinated by them — as we are. The collection of images is wonderful, as always.

    • We were fortunate to walk around two sites with Aboriginal rock art, in the Northern Territory, Kakadu Nat’l. Park. It was truly wonderful to see these paintings, most of which they said were about 2,000 years old. They were roped off but you could get within just a few feet of them…a thrill. Glad you visited today, Linda, and I appreciate your comment.

    • That is the highest compliment, M.B., because I strive to remind people how wonderful and wild this planet is. Urban settings are the norm, and growing populations migrate toward human-centered venues and people can forget sometimes that the outdoors and the wild creatures are extremely important for humans’ well-being. This pandemic has proven that. Many thanks for your rewarding comment and visit.

  9. Incredible sights. Thank you, Jet and Athena for sharing the wonders you have experienced. You endure the heat, insects, and dangerous reptiles so we don’t have to.😉

    We have someone living not far from here who has been keeping emus for many years – I don’t know why.

    I would love to see the flying foxes someday – I studied bats for my senior thesis and find them quite fascinating.

    • Wonderful to receive your comment, Eilene, thank you. As one who has thoroughly researched bats, you would l o v e seeing the flying foxes of Australia. They are the biggest bats I have ever seen, and fly in huge flocks. They are more photographable than many bats, due to being visible in daytime. They use trees for roosting and completely blanket themselves from the sun with their stretchy wings. You probably already know this. I hope you will be granted the delight of seeing them in person. Many thanks for your contribution today.

  10. Wow – There sure are a lot of amazing animals, birds, reptiles, and insects in Australia. The flying foxes were particularly fascinating. I’d never previously heard of this type of bat.

    • What a great joy it is to have introduced you to the flying foxes, Sheryl. And I’m really glad you enjoyed this visit to see the wildlife of Australia. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  11. One of the few places I actually yearned to travel to, but alas never managed it. The land seems so intriguing and the wildlife is utterly amazing. That Ulysses Butterfly had me gasping (literally) as that brilliant blue showed up as I scrolled. Do I remember right that you had an interesting encounter with a Cassowary? If I remember right, it’s an intimidating critter isn’t it? Your post had me once again longing to have visited the land down under and to visit my godmother who lived there. At least she managed to make the trip to the states, so I had a chance to meet her. Seems the Latvian diaspora was scattered to the winds at the end of WW II.

    • You have a good memory, Gunta. Yes, we got accidentally caught in the rainforest between a male cassowary and his nest. We were there to see a particularly special bowerbird and its bower, when along came this male. After about one minute he became very agitated and started to threaten us. We of course backed down, literally, but he continued. They have fatal kicks we did not want to experience, with a sharp claw on their foot. We managed to back out of the rainforest, with quite a bit of difficulty, and escape, but it was the most terrifying encounter I have ever had with wildlife. I wrote about it in “Wicked Walkabout,” too, which I think you read. Glad you enjoyed the Wild Australia post, and glad you enjoyed that incredible Ulysses Butterfly. Always a pleasure, my friend.

      • Your cassowary encounter was certainly memorable and I’m afraid it’s the short term memory that is slipping. Then again you reinforced that exciting event in your book. So there you have it. I’d say you have owned the description of Intrepid!!! Your adventures are pretty amazing.

  12. Fabulous photos, Jet! I’d rather see all these than eg the ‘big 5’ in Africa. Since I’ll never get to either, it’s great to have your comprehensive Oz gallery to be going on with. RH

    • Yes, platypuses are some of the most curious creatures on this planet. We were really thrilled after our 11-year wait to see them. I’m glad I could share the platypus and wild Australian creatures with you, Sherry. Many thanks.

  13. I’ve always thought that if I were to visit one country in the world away from our own would it be Australia. As I prefer to not fly I don’t imagine I shall so very much enjoyed Athena’s photographs, especially the flying foxes, and your descriptions of what we are seeing and bit about them, Jet.

    • It’s a great country to visit, Steve, and I am happy I could bring some of the highlights of Australia to you. Thank you for your visit and comment, much appreciated.

  14. This is quite a collection of Australian wildlife snapshots, Jet. Athena did a great job. I have lived in Australia for most of my life and haven’t seen all of these yet lol. Kangaroos are really unique to Australia, and in rural and regional Australia it’s normal for them to cross your path as you are driving. The guide you hired really showed you around very nicely. Glad you enjoyed our wildlife and yes you have to come back to see the Great Barrier Reef.

    • It’s a grand wonder, this country that you have lived most of your life in, Mabel. We enjoyed the GBR so much too, and will share some of those photos another time. Thanks so much for your contribution today, I was hoping an Australian would comment.

      • Yes, as an Australian I just had to comment on your post. Really is a fabulous write-up with stunning photos. Looking forward to seeing your GBR post when it comes around. Take care, Jet 🙂

    • Once again you gave me a smile, Frank, with your comment. I don’t know about partying with the cassowaries, though. They are lethal creatures and we had a terrifying experience with one. We were in an isolated corner of the rainforest examining a special bird display and bird, when that guy in the photo came along and threatened us. They kick people to death. We got out of there right away, but it was definitely not a party. I DO love your spirit though in wanting to party with them. Always a joy, Frank, thanks so much.

    • I enjoyed your pandemic lockdown isolation feeling compared to the flying foxes, Cathy. It is much like that. They literally shelter in place. Thanks so much for your visit, it was a joy.

  15. I Love your posts of Australia! So many unique and fascinating creatures and experiences. I don’t know about flying possums, though… That’s pretty creepy.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the wildlife of Australia, Nan. The flying possums weren’t creepy at all, we were thrilled. They’re fairly small, not much bigger than a chipmunk. Thank you, as always, for your visit, much appreciated.

  16. what a feast to the eyes, Jet! Athena’s photography is superb! thank you so much for this delightful post on Australia’s wild. love especially the rainbow lorikeet and sulphur-crested cuckatoo! 🙂

    • You picked two birds that were also favorites for us, Wilma. The rainbow lorikeet, such an explosion of bright colors; and the sulphur-crested cockatoo, a very big bird that we saw almost as often as gulls. I’m happy to have shared this “feast” with you, thanks for your visit. I always enjoy your visits here.

  17. Awesome post, Jet. Brings back wonderful memories of when we lived there and our trips around this amazing country. Love Athena’s photos along with your narrative. The black cockatoo was a thrill to see in the Blue Mountains (only time) and the Flying Foxes brought back memories of them hanging all over the trees…yikes. Thanks for taking me on this trip. 🙂

    • I so enjoyed hearing about your memories from living in Australia, Jane. We saw these black cockatoos in the Tablelands area, but we did see some different, rare cockatoos in the Blue Mountains. This nice woman in the post office saw our optical gear hanging around our necks and sent us on this journey where, sure enough, a pair were perched. Great fun to share Australian memories, Jane. Thanks so very much for your visit.

  18. Wonderful photos of the Australian wildlife. I remember seeing a Cassowary in a bird park in South Africa. There was a big sign warning not to get too close to the pen. Your platypus sightings must have been so thrilling. The flying foxes are especially awesome. Great captures, Athena.

    • I liked hearing about the cassowary in the south African bird park, Sylvia. We were thrilled to see several in the wild, and also, yes, a true joy to see the platypus in the wild as well. Glad you enjoyed the flying foxes, too. My warmest thanks for your visit.

  19. Awesome virtual tour of the unique wild life of Australia! I love your persistence in finding a platypus….the flying foxes are so unique and the birds….stunning! Great post…great pics!

  20. This was such an entertaining read! Who wouldn’t want to visit Australia given the opportunity? So much to enjoy, even if there are so many ways to get poisoned/bitten/eaten/lost/dehydrated. An adventurer’s (and mystery writer’s) delight.
    Thanks, Jet!

    • I know from experience that it takes many years, decades, to recover from devastating wildfires. But I am sure the Australians are working away at recovery, we hope for their safety and success. It is truly a special place on this planet, I am glad I could share a few of the wonders with you, Inese. Thanks very much for your visits, Inese.

  21. What an amazing collection of creatures they have there, Jet. I can hardly believe it. I have to say that the photo of the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos just knocks me for six! It’s a Phoenix really, isn’t it, just starting to become ablaze with fire. Catching the bird in that flight position is perfect, revealing the flame in the tail. It makes me wonder if that is where the idea of a phoenix came from in the first place. Love those bats as well 🙂

    • I really like that red-tailed black cockatoo photo, too, Alastair. We were very far off the beaten track in a jeep and there was nothing but fields and fields of dry dirt that were being prepared for some crop. It was hot and dusty and silent, and the only other living creatures were sulphur-crested cockatoos, spread out all over the ground pecking at the field dirt, their white bodies in contrast with the reddish dirt. There were few trees, gum trees as they call them there, when this rowdy flock of black cockatoos came in. We had never seen this species, so it was a “lifer.” Athena fired off many photos, but this landing one with the red was indeed special. I really love your comparison to the phoenix rising up from the flames. Thanks for enlightening me. My warmest thanks, Alastair, and a smile to you.

    • I’m so glad you visited and got to see my Australian Wild post, Lloyd. I love it when a native resident visits a post in which I have highlighted a few of the marvels of their country. Thanks, too, for the link to your echidna post. Yours and Karen’s hike sounded like quite an adventure, and how wonderful to be rewarded with a close-up visit by the echidna. Echidnas are SO cool. We only saw that one, but we were truly thrilled. If the echidna hadn’t rattled out of the dried leaves, I don’t think we would’ve seen it. At first glance it scared us, we both thought it was a rat at our feet. But then as it emerged more from the detritus, we saw this adorable spiny-backed little creature waddling along in search of food. Also, I like that you took your 92 yo relation out for an outdoor visit in the country. It’s quite a country you have, my friend. Thanks so much Lloyd.

      • Thank you Jet most kind. Karen enjoyed how chilled our echidna looked. It was such a great. Grandpa Ern enjoyed the day and I have never regretted taking him. It sounds a little exciting how you met your echidna and seeing a platypus in the wild is quite an accomplishment. Take care and thank you once again.

  22. Pingback: Wild Australia — Jet Eliot | huggers.ca

    • I enjoyed your comment, Cynthia, because it IS hard to decide which creature is most amazing. They’re all so beautiful and unique. I’m happy you stopped by and enjoyed the Australian wildlife. Thanks for your visit, Cynthia.

  23. Joining you in Australia made life feel normal again, Jet. Thank you so much. I have a friend in Australia who again is undergoing another lockdown so to see the wild and free like this lifted my heart today. The landscape and the wildlife that exist in this land is found no where else on earth. How fortunate you and Athena were to go there and I hope that sometime in the near future the two of you will be able to travel again. I know how important travel is to the both of you and how difficult this time in our history must be for you.. Hang in there and again thank you for the virtual tour! xo

    • It was a delight to receive your message, Amy. I am smiling; happy that you enjoyed this virtual trip to Australia and all the wild creatures in their beautiful country. It is inconvenient to not be able to travel in these times, but I have nothing to complain about, as, sadly, so very many people are truly suffering. Thanks so much for your kindness, Amy, and good wishes. My warmest wishes to you.

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