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Wild Kangaroos on the Gold Coast

Do you love Australia’s cute and unique animals? Do you want to see wild wallabies and kangaroos on the Gold Coast? Here’s what you need to know.

Australia has some fabulous wildlife parks and they’re a great place for visitors to see the diverse range of unique Australian wildlife. What is extra special though is the opportunity to see the animals wild and in their natural surroundings. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck and of course it will depend where in Australia you plan to visit.  While there is no such thing as a guaranteed wild sighting you can be pretty sure of seeing kangaroos on the Gold Coast in Queensland if you know where and when to go.

You don’t even need to drive all the way into the hinterland.  In our experience you’ll see even more kangaroos and wallabies at this secret location just 15 kilometres from the bustling Surfers Paradise esplanade than you will in the rainforest.

Kangaroos on the Gold Coast

Improve your chances of seeing a kangaroo

Kangaroos are mainly active during the hours of dawn and dusk continuing into the night.  That doesn’t mean you won’t see individual animals of mobs grazing or resting under trees during the day.  They are normally described as being nocturnal but like a good portion of the native wildlife they’re crepuscular which means relating to twilight.  It’s used specifically as a zoological description for those animals like bats, and our furry Aussie friends who do most of their eating and activity during those hours.

So if you want the best chance of seeing kangaroos head for large grassy areas with tree cover in the late afternoon, sometime around 4pm is usually good.  This is definitely the best time to visit Coombabah Wetlands, one of our top spots for introducing visitors to kangaroos on the Gold Coast.

You’ll often get to see the joeys (baby kangaroos) in Mums pouch and by winter time they are sometimes still jumping in to seek warmth and comfort but seem way too big to really fit, there are arms and legs hanging out everywhere as you can see with this one below.

Kangaroos on the Gold Coast

Getting to Coombabah Wetlands

The wetlands are a large area in Helensvale about a 20 minute drive from Surfers Paradise.  The large grassed area best for spotting kangaroos and wallaby is to the side of Shelter Road opposite the runway of the local airstrip.  Shelter Road is a minor but public access road that runs through the parklands.  On a map it looks like it runs all the way through from the Gold Coast Highway to Pine Ridge Road but you need to enter from Pine Ridge Road end, it doesn’t join up in the middle.

Keeping you and the wildlife safe and happy

Don’t forget your insect repellant

Twilight, natural areas and the sub-tropical climate aren’t only loved by kangaroos, they are also ideal for mosquito’s.  These tiny insects not only have a bite that’s itchy and annoying but in most countries they also have the potential to carry disease.  Cover up if you can and spray exposed areas on your arms and legs with insect repellant.

Drive carefully

Drive slowly and keep an active watch at the side of the road.  Kangaroos move fast and don’t have anything resembling road sense.  A collision with one of our furry friends is catastrophic for them and is probably going to ruin your trip with guilt and likely a substantial repair bill for the vehicle.  Just treat wildlife areas like school zones, go easy on the accelerator and be alert for unexpected movement from the sidelines.

Give them some space

In places like Coombabah you can get a good close look at a mob of kangaroo but remember that as cuddly as they look they are wild animals.  Don’t approach too close or attempt to touch wildlife. Kangaroos and wallabies are macropods which literally means big (macro) foot (pod).  Yep Australia is home to the genuine Bigfoot.  And that huge back foot is their primary means of defense and attack when looking after themselves or their territory against other kangaroos.  Walking right up to a kangaroo or worse still, cornering them, is a terrible idea.

If you keep an eye on some of the bigger males in the group you will often see them sparring with each other, it rarely seems serious but you can get an idea of how fast they move and the force of that kick.  They won’t hesitate to take you on if they think you’re threatening them or one of their group.

They are very comfortable for you to watch from a distance and take photos but will scatter and run if you scare them.  Twilight is feeding time so they need this time to feed and build up their energy without being disturbed.

Don’t feed wild animals

It goes without saying but wildlife is wild.  In areas like Coombabah and other natural areas where they gather in groups they have plenty of food available to them.  They don’t like or need human food, it’s bad for them.  Even if you have some left over pellets from feeding wallaby at a wildlife park they shouldn’t be given to wild kangaroos.  Captive animals are in an enclosed space, their daily routine is different and they have vets on staff monitoring their health.

The enjoyment of seeing the animals in their natural setting is that they live and behave as wild animals while we have the privilege of observing them.

Kangaroos on the Gold Coast

Planning your visit to Coombabah

If you’re staying on the Gold Coast and enjoy nature I’d recommend investing an hour to watch the kangaroos as they gather at dusk.

The area has many good walking tracks and we’ve also seen koala and a wide variety of bird life in the wetland area so you might plan to come a little earlier if you want to try out some of the other walks.  Do be aware though that there are no facilities at all on site including public toilets, picnic stations or rubbish bins so do plan ahead.

If you’re visiting on Friday through Sunday evening and feeling that it’s approaching time for dinner or a drink by the time you are done it’s only a 5 minute drive from here to Nightquarter – a foodie night market that we visited and enjoyed recently.

If you have the chance to visit Coombabah or any other areas to see Australia’s wildlife I’d love to know your thoughts.  Is local wildlife something you seek out when you travel?  Please leave us a comment at the end of this article and if you have any questions please ask.

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Kangaroos on the Gold Coast
Kangaroos at Coombabah


  • I live in Siena Place. My back fence is on the boundry of the conservation park. I wish to replace said fence as it is old & detriating & almost falliing inwards. I wish to know who to discuss this with.

    • Hi Pepita, I don’t have any connection with the park other than being someone who loves walking its trails. The Gold Coast council website has a section on their website to report issues with city parks and there’s a specific form option in there for dilapidated fences adjoining city land, that might be a good place to start.

  • Wow! Thanks for this… Very well written and fun to read. I just stumbled across this, and am very glad I did!! It’s extremely important to inform people of how to respect any wild animal but still encourage them to admire them and this does exactly that :).

  • Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen a kangaroo up close!!! But I totally agree with you as well on your point about how we should give them the space they need. I’m an advocate of being an observer of animals only so as not to disturb them in their natural habitat 😀

  • Thanks for sharing these useful advices on viewing the Kangaroos, there seem to not enough tips out there when it comes to getting well informed on looking at wildlife

  • Lovely recommendations on seeing Kangaroos. Important tip to not feed them and to respect that wild animals are wild! People forget too often when they’re trying for a selfie or perfect shot.

  • These are beautiful pictures. I, however, am a bit scared of kangaroos, after I all of a sudden saw one on a street and it was getting quite close. I know the can kick very hard so it scared me like crazy but apparently I survived without any injuries, haha. Such parks might be a safer environment 🙂

    • They won’t go after you, unless you were cornering it you’d be fine. Hope it was OK if it found its way onto a busy street. In quite a few Australian towns and even cities they can be found in parks or around houses. We stayed with a friend on the Gold Coast once and thought someone was breaking in during the night but it was a kangaroo that had found it’s way into the back garden on its own and the poor thing couldn’t get over the side gate to get back out and was panicked. Poor thing. So hard on the wildlife as development of their habitat continues.

  • Thanks for sharing this secret spot! I love seeing Australia’s native wildlife – especially in wild 🙂 And it’s great to know you don’t have to go too far from Surfers Paradise to find them!

  • I would love to watch them from close and I agree one shouldn’t feed the wild animals and spoil them for life.
    Somehow this post took me to childhood when Trivandrum zoo received a kangaroo from Australia! That is the only time I have seen one in real.

  • We do take them for granted. There’s a field in my suburb on the Sunshine Coast where they just laze around at dusk. Actually, one wallaby hopped right up to my neighbour’s front lawn once. They also love hanging around the golf courses, where the grass is juicy.

  • Great photos and tips Toni – I think it’s especially important to emphasize to international tourists that they’re wild animals and it’s important to keep your distance, so I’m so glad you covered that. People think they’re cute and cuddly and want to feed them, especially because it’s probably something they’ve dreamed of being able to finally see a kangaroo in person. But they’re wild animals, and could really do a lot of damage if they felt threatened or under attack. And nobody wants that!!

    It’s still my goal to see a Kangaroo on the beach :D!

  • Love finding secret spots to see wildlife. It is definitely a dream to see Kangaroos in the wild. Thanks for including all the great tips. I think I would be so excited I would forget to prepare and plan and would end up covered in bug bites!

  • Hi Tony,

    Cute! And good advice too. Some get too close to these furry, adorable guys and others make the mistake of feeding them. Wild animals they are, guys. Give them space. Give them their freedom. So awesome to see these guys in person. Thanks for the share.


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