I was born and raised in Australia, started travelling overseas in my early twenties, and in my early thirties (over thirty years ago) I emigrated to Canada. Almost all my exploration of Australia has been done with my husband over the past five years when we expanded family visits to include seeing the country. We visited all the iconic places: the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road, Uluru, Kakadu National Park, the Blue Mountains, and of course Sydney, one of the world’s most fabulous cities.
Don and I are nature lovers. We love the outdoors, we love seeing wildlife in the wild rather than in a zoo or other form of enclosure, we love hiking and getting out of the cities. We’ve discovered some of the lesser known places in Australia that are worth visiting if you want to see wildlife and do a little exploring in uncrowded natural places.
Despite having said we love getting out of the cities I’m going to start with a city: Canberra. Canberra is one of the best places to see wildlife in its natural habitat right in a city. You know that tale about seeing kangaroos hopping down the streets of Sydney. Well it’s a myth. Sydney is a huge crowded noisy cosmopolitan city. In Canberra it’s actually true. I have seen a kangaroo bounding along one of the main roads in the city. Fortunately there was little traffic that day.
Canberra, the national capital, is not like other cities. The centre of the city is quite formal, with many beautiful gardens, a rather interesting underground parliament building, and modern buildings that house all the national institutions – government departments, the national library, art gallery, portrait gallery, high court, zoo, museum, and many others. The National Art Gallery is very definitely worth a visit for art lovers. Many people visit Canberra for a day or two, and find it boring. Perhaps they didn’t manage to discover any of its excellent coffee shops, or notice the beautiful scenery all around them.
Flowing through the centre of the city is a very large man-made lake, and out from the formal centre, in all directions, in between the suburbs, are nature parks. These nature parks are large and rambling, and are mostly natural bush land. Go hiking in any one of them and you’re bound to see kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, kookaburras, galahs, cockatoos, rosellas, and several other kinds of parrots. Actually you’ll see a wide variety of brilliantly coloured parrots just about anywhere in the city’s abundant parks, gardens, and tree-lined suburban streets.
The best places in my experience to see kangaroos are the nature park on Red Hill, in the National Botanic Gardens up the top end near the nature park around Black Mountain, and out in Weston Park where I once spent an hour photographing a mob of about thirty of them. Moving slowly I was able to get as close as about ten or twelve feet without scaring them away. In the Botanic Gardens you’re bound to see water dragons around the water holes, and if you’re lucky an echidna or two.
If you want to see pelicans, darters, and black swans just get yourself down to the lake anywhere, although out of the formal centre and in one of the nature parks around the shore is best. If you enjoy cycling you can hire a bike on the north shore of the lake and there’s a bicycle path that goes the entire distance around the lake, as well as many other paths that take you through bush land out into the various suburbs.