Categories: Travel Guides & Tips

7 Unreal Wildlife Experiences Hidden Only In Australia That Go Beyond Selfies With Koalas

Wildlife experiences in South Australia

Image adapted from Pinterest

Think Australia, and cuddly koalas nomming on eucalyptus leaves come to mind. The seasoned explorer would tell you that there’s a world of diverse wildlife to be discovered Down Under, though.

If you’re a newbie, fret not. South Australia is a one-stop wildlife haven where you can get up close and personal with cute sea lions and badass sharks alike. Here’s our first-timers’ guide to wildlife experiences in South Australia.

1. Be surrounded by kangaroos everywhere on Kangaroo Island

Practically synonymous with Australia and the Great Outback, your trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing a ‘roo or two.

 Image credit: @maylari

Sightings will be guaranteed on Kangaroo Island, where the energetic creatures hope around enthusiastically greeting their new visitors. An entire island dedicated to kangaroos, you ask? Situated off the mainland of South Australia, the beautifully calm nature paradise is also home to bone-white sandy beaches, pristine waters and spectacular coastal rock formations.

A prized sighting of proud Mama ‘Roo and her tiny joey chilling in the pouch. Image credit: @elsamaarie

Image credit: @sealbay

You can also check out the most irresistibly adorable seals on the island. Treat yourself to an idyllic stroll across the island and you’ll discover lots of seals just chillin’ along the beach. Living their best life, indeed!

Click here to find out more.

2. Dive into a sea of sharks from within a cage

Usually a scene straight out of Fear Factor, shark cage diving is now something you can check off your bucket list thanks to Adventure Bay Charters.

Image credit: @adventurebaycharters

Using a truly unique method that’s both environmentally sustainable and ethical to the max, Adventure Bay Charters plays music to naturally attract Great White Sharks over to the cage.

This means there won’t be any tomfoolery that’s harmful to the majestic creatures or disruptive to their daily activities, nor will any dumping of bait pollute the pristine waters.

Adapted from @adventurebaycharters

To be granted a crystal clear glimpse of the sharks while staying dry, they also offer an Aqua Sub experience where you’ll be submerged into the ocean within a 360° see-through glass capsule.

Prices begin at AUD$295 (approx. SGD$284) for adults above the age of 15 and AUD$254 (approx. SGD$236) for kids 5 years old onwards. The great news is, you’ll gain unlimited access to either the diving cage or the aqua sub, or test the waters in both for one flat rate.

Click here to find out more

3. Play with friendly sea lions in the ocean

If you prefer marine life that’s more on the cute and cuddly side, South Australia also has a series of trusted operators offering up close experiences with sea lions. Although they have “lion” in their name, the docile cuties are actually nicknamed “puppies of the sea”.

The sheer friendliness these creatures possess can be seen the moment you take a dip. They’ll glide curiously around their new visitor, before playfully nudging you to give them attention and loving pats aplenty.

Calypso Star Charters offers tours that last about 4.5 hours, where prices are AUD$195 (approx. SGD$188) each for adults and AUD$135 (approx. SGD$130) for children aged 16 and below. All tours are inclusive of a meal plus beverages and light refreshments along the way.

Click here to find out more

4. Go kayaking or paddle boarding amidst dolphins

Consider this the next-level version of an otherwise chill vacation sporting activity. Kayaking or paddle boarding are good ways to keep fit, tone those arms and get a substantial dose of vitamin D. Now imagine a day out at sea with wild dolphins thrown in the mix.

Adapted from Dolphin Treasure Hire

Swing by the Whyalla Marina, where pods of cheerful dolphins frolic freely and await new guests to interact with them. Look for the Dolphin Treasure Hire to get you sorted with all the gear you’ll need for the self-guided session.

Image credit: @dolphintreasurehire

Prices for equipment are kept affordable at AUD$23 (approx. SGD$22) per hour for a stand-up paddleboard or single-seater kayak, and AUD$33 (approx. SGD$32) per hour for a double-seater kayak.

Click here to find out more

5. Find starfish and huge, super fast tuna in an outdoor aquarium

Image credit: @oceanicvictor

Immerse yourself in Oceanic Victor’s aquarium on the Fleurieu Peninsula, where schools of robust Southern Bluefin Tuna dart around you. Fun fact: the hefty fishes are actually dubbed “the Ferraris of the ocean”, zipping around as fast as 70km/h. How’s that for a need for speed?

Image credit: @oceanicvictor

A little side quest as you wade around is to scavenge for as many starfish as you can. The myriad of different shapes and sizes make up quite the treasure hunt. Just don’t forget to release them gently back into the waters after you’re done marvelling at the beauty of their tiny details.

Image credit: @oceanicvictor

A 2-hour aquarium swim costs AUD$120 (approx. SGD$115) for an adult, AUD$95 (approx. SGD$91) for children aged 5 to 15 years old and just AUD$15 (approx. SGD$14.50) for even younger kids, if you happen to know an adventurous tot who’s confident of braving the waters.

Click here to find out more

6. Explore the shores for ethereal leafy sea dragons

A spectacular oceanic creature that remains a hidden gem is the leafy sea dragon. Most reminiscent of seahorses, the pretty little things float about wispily adding splashes of colour in the deep blue sea.

Image credit: @bryandchu

Diving Adelaide offers a guided session held at The Bluff on Fleurieu Peninsula, where you’ll be able to spot some leafy sea dragons, along with crabs and crayfish tucked amidst the rocks. The dive is mostly conducted along a wall, making it ideal for beginners.

Image credit: Diving Adelaide

It costs AUD$99 (approx. SGD$95) per person for a session of 2 dives, equipment all-in plus transport to and fro the diving centre. They have special group prices and if you go as a 4-pax party, you’d pay only AUD$289 (approx. SGD$278).

Click here to find out more

7. Go snorkelling alongside giant cuttlefish

The cuttlefish you’re familiar with are probably the long and slender breeds, looking a tad like Squidward. Looking completely different are the massive Whyallan species in South Australia, which sport beautiful patterns on their bodies as they dance gracefully in the water.

Image credit: South Australia

For absolutely no charge, head over to the aptly named Cuttlefish Drive at Port Bonython to snorkel amidst giant cuttlefish as they surface in the winter months of June to August for their annual migration.

Image supplied by South Australian Tourism Commission

For a more guided session that’s especially ideal for snorkelling beginners, Pure SA hosts a 2-Day Cuttlefish Package Tour where you can enjoy return transport from Adelaide plus sightseeing and excursions en route. This is on top of the educational snorkelling with cuttlefish element, and prices begin at AUD$679 per person (approx. SGD$653).

Whichever you go with, temperatures will drop to about 12°C to 15°C, so suit up with some thermal swimwear and don’t be a blur sotong frolicking about in summer beach gear!

South Australian animals

As a generation so glued to digital screens, it’s easy to take the wonderful wildlife in the world for granted. South Australia is not only home to an incredibly broad range of animals from both land and sea, they offer unique experiences that are far more enriching than any documentary will ever be.

Rest assured that these attractions also operate on the utmost standards of ethical treatment and welfare for our animal friends. Helmed by trained professionals with vast zoological knowledge and a big, loving heart to match, these experiences grant humans the rare opportunity to observe or interact with wildlife in a safe and controlled environment, without exploiting the animals.

Discover more of what South Australia has to offer here

This post was brought to you by Tourism Australia.

Renae Cheng

I love food, dance, writing, and writing about food and dance.

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