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 on 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.
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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 4 pm 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 wintertime 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.
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 wallabies 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 mosquitoes. 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 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 defence 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 leftover pellets from feeding wallabies 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.
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 koalas and a wide variety of birdlife 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 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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Monday 18th of June 2018
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.
Monday 18th of June 2018
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.
Tuesday 6th of December 2016
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 :).
Tuesday 11th of October 2016
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 :D
Monday 10th of October 2016
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
Elaine J Masters
Monday 10th of October 2016
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.