Australia / Inspiration

12 Amazing Wildlife Encounters to Have in Western Australia

An encounter with local wildlife is one of our families favourite things to do when travelling. Seeing the animals is always so much fun for kids, regardless of if it’s in the wild or at a zoo. Western Australia is not short of wildlife encounters to experience, and so many of them are unique to our home state!

I’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to experience the West Aussie wildlife, along with when and where to see each animal. Some encounters will require you to book a tour. Others will simply be a matter of being in the right place at the right time, all completely free!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a booking through these links I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me to continue running this blog.

1. Get a Selfie with a Quokka

When: All Year Round
Where: Rottnest Island

Of course a selfie with the insta-famous quokka had to be at the top of our list! The quokkas of Rottnest Island have really boosted tourism for the island with their cute camera friendly smiles. You can check out this hashtag #quokkaselfies to see what I mean!

You’ll need to be patient to get a quokka photo, they may be cute but they are also shy! So let them come to you.

While they can be found all over the island, they are often around the General Store in Thompsons Bay. Just be sure not to touch or feed them!

selfie with a quokka on rottnest island animal encounter

2. Close Up Encounter with Stingrays

When: All Year Round (most likely in summer)
Where: Hamelin Bay

One of the best FREE animal encounters to experience in Western Australia is to get up close with a stingray in Hamelin Bay. Here, the stingrays come in close to the shore, so that you can even pat them!

Hamelin Bay is located in Australia’s South West Region, an area filled with free things to do. While this does get quite busy during the summer holidays (mid Dec- late Jan), even with the crowds it’s an incredible place to visit. However, if you don’t enjoy crowds, avoid visiting at this time of year.

When to See the Stingrays in Hamelin Bay

While you’ll be able to encounter stingrays at Hamelin Bay throughout the year, the time of day will impact your chances of seeing these creatures.

Visiting between 8am – 10am is when you are most likely to see them. At this time the crowds are likely to be smaller. You can return to see the stingrays in the afternoon, when the fishermen return to the boat ramp. As they throw out the scraps from their day of fishing, the stingrays come around to eat them.

About the Hamelin Bay Stingrays

There are two types of stingrays in Hamelin Bay, the Eagle Ray & Smooth Ray. Some of which can grow up to 2m!

The stingrays will swim up close to you and you can pat them. You can even snorkel with them and get a good view of them under the water. Although these are seemingly tame, always remember that they are wild animals and proceed with caution.

Hamelin Bay is, no doubt, a great place to visit on a road trip through Australia’s South West.

3. Encounter Humpback Whales

When: July – October
Where: Exmouth, Coral Bay, Perth

The most common place to see humpback whales in the wild is off of the Ningaloo Reef from Coral Bay to Exmouth. These giant creatures start appearing near Exmouth from July. They can still be spotted in the Perth area up until December, as they head south to Antartica.

Some Humpback Whale tours are designed to watch these majestic animals from the boat, while others offer the opportunity to swim with them!

If you’re looking to take a Humpback Whale tour, why not book one that leaves directly from Perth! Tours from Perth start running from August through till December.

4. Swim with Whale Sharks

When: March – July
Where: Exmouth, Coral Bay

Another animal experience to enjoy along the Ningaloo Reef is to swim with Whale Sharks. These gentle giants can be found along the Ningaloo Reef from March till July, occasionally stretching through till September. Tours leave from both Exmouth and Coral Bay.

If your looking for more things to do in Coral Bay, the little beach town is filled with unique and amazing activities to suit everyone!

5. Swim with a Manta Ray

When: Year Round
Where: Exmouth, Coral Bay

Anywhere from Coral Bay to Exmouth along the Ningaloo Reef is a great place to swim with Manta Rays. While this animal encounter may come at a cost, it is definitely a thrilling experience to enjoy on Australia’s Coral Coast.

It is even included in some scuba diving experiences, making it a day filled with adventure! The Manta Rays swim extremely fast. So, in order to swim with them you’ll enter the water from the boat and swim above them.

Mantaray in Australia's Coral Coast

6. See Orca’s

When: January – April
Where: Bremer Bay

Off the coast of Bremer Bay is the Bremer Canyon, a popular feeding ground for marine species such as Orca’s. Orca’s are usually found in the area during the summer time, when then come to feed on the squid that come to the area.

On an Orca Tour from Bremer Bay you may also see other species such as Sperm Whales, Sea Lions, Dolphins and Sharks (and much more!)

7. Encounter with Dolphins

When: Year Round
Where: Monkey Mia, Mandurah & Bunbury

Dolphins are considered the cute and friendly animal of the sea. Generally, they can be spotted anywhere along Western Australia’s coastline. However, there are a few places that are known for having incredible dolphin encounters.

Monkey Mia Dolphin Feeding

Located along Australia’s Coral Coast, Monkey Mia is the most unique place to experience a dolphin encounter. Here, the dolphins come in close to shore daily for a feeding with the ranger. It has become quite the tourist attraction!

If you’re interested in this experience, it is best to arrive early. Feedings take place between 7:45am and 12:00pm everyday. However, these are still wild dolphins and therefore don’t have set feeding times. Occasionally they won’t appear, although that is rare. It is best to arrive early for the best chance of seeing a dolphin!

Mandurah Dolphin Cruises

Along the waterways of Mandurah is Western Australia’s largest residential population of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Cruising along and spotting dolphins is a family-friendly activity that your kids are guaranteed to enjoy!

Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre

The Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre, located on Koombana Drive, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to conservation of marine life. The centre runs Dolphin Swim Tours and Eco Cruises, providing dolphin experiences for people of all ages. So if you’re looking to go swimming with dolphins in Perth, this would be a great place to look!

Bunbury is a great place to stop at on a road trip through Australia’s South West.

8. Play with Sea Lions

When: Year Round
Where: Jurien Bay

Located roughly 2.5 hours north of Perth is Jurien Bay, home to the playful sea lion – the “puppies of the sea.” On a Sea Lion Tour you can either hop in the water for a snorkel with them or stay on the boat and watch the show! Tours run all year round, with tour times changing between summer and winter.

Make Jurien Bay a stop on a road trip along Australia’s Coral Coast!

9. See the Cute Fairy Penguins

When: September – June
Where: Penguin Island

Penguin Island in Western Australia is home to the extremely cute fairy penguins. The island is open from mid September until early June (closing for nesting season on the other months). You can reach the island via a Shoalwater Islands Marine Cruise, on which you’ll also see wild dolphins and sea lions.

10. Encounter a Kangaroo

When: Year Round
Where: Peel Zoo, Caversham Wildlife Park, Cape Range National Park, Lucky Bay

If you’re visiting Australia from another country, seeing a kangaroo is an absolute must! You can easily see Kangaroo in the wild throughout Western Australia. Some of the most unique spots to see Kangaroos in the wild include on Lucky Bay Beach in Esperance and Cape Range National Park.

However, if you’re looking for a close up encounter with a Kangaroo than you’re best off visiting a wildlife park. In the south of the Perth Metro area Peel Zoo is a great and affordable place to see lots of Australian animals up close. While a little on the rougher side, they even offer the opportunity to feed the Kangaroos! In the Swan Valley region is Caversham Wildlife Park, another popular spot to have a close encounter with Kangaroos!

11. See the Black Swan

When: Year Round
Where: Lake Monger, South Perth & Matilda Bay

The Black Swan is an icon of Western Australia, even having its central river named after it – the Swan River. You’ll see this unique bird used as an emblem on many buildings throughout the city of Perth.

You’ll find the Black Swan on many of Perths waterways including in South Perth, Matilda Bay and Lake Monger. One of the most enjoyable ways to observe them is via a bike ride along the swan river!

Read More: Top Free Things to Do in Perth, Western Australia

12. See a Koala

When: Year Round
Where: Yanchep National Park, Caversham Wildlife Park

Another iconic Australian animal to see is the cute and cuddly Koala. While they are not native to Western Australia, you can still see them at various parks throughout the state. Some places even provide the opportunity to hold the Koalas, something that is still on my bucket list!

Yanchep National Park has been home to a colony of Koalas since 1938. Here there is a koala boardwalk from which you can play ‘spot the Koala’ as you walk between the trees. You can book a tour to see the Koala’s which also includes heading out to The Pinnacles and sandboarding in Lancelin on a day trip.


Whether you are visiting the state on a holiday or a local up for a new experience, these are the best wildlife encounters to have in Western Australia!

Let me know in the comments below what encounter is now at the top of your bucket list!

No Comments

    Leave a Reply