There are many places near Brisbane where you can pay admission to see Australia’s unique animals. However, maybe you’ve already visited those spots and now want a chance to see those animals out in the wild.

There are a couple of places near Brisbane where you can see native animals without spending any money at all. At times you’ll have to search for them, but the thrill when you find them makes it even more exciting than going to a zoo.

Wacol’s Gray Kangaroos

He’s got his eye on you.

The suburb Wacol has a mob of about 1200 kangaroos. You’re most likely to see them along Wacol Station Road, often on the lawn of the correctional facility. (Hey, if you were a kangaroo you’d probably want to go someplace where the humans were in cages too!) Pay attention to the fences around the area, but the roos often come very close to the road.

Note that kangaroos generally come out around dawn and dusk; many people have gone to Wacol at midday to see kangaroos only to be bitterly disappointed.

Daisy Hill: Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas and More

Two koalas at Daisy Hill Sanctuary
Two koalas at Daisy Hill Sanctuary

Daisy Hill Conservation Park, just a few miles from the center of Brisbane, is known for its koala sanctuary. If you want a guaranteed koala viewing, the sanctuary is free to visit and is open 7 days a week. The sanctuary will also tell you how to spot koalas at the reserve. This is not so easy as koala fur matches the tree bark!

At dawn and dusk, wallabies and kangaroos come out to feed. Sit quietly at one of the benches along the trails and you may see and hear kookaburras, owls, gliders, the glossy black-cockatoo, and many other creatures unique to Australia.

The park has trails designed for people in wheelchairs and with other mobility challenges. It’s also adjacent to the Brisbane Koala Bushlands, which have trails that provide even more opportunity to see Australia’s unique animals.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha: Short Necked Turtles, Water Dragons, Lorikeets, Cockatoos and More

Water Dragon at Mount Coot-tha Botanic Garden
Here there be (water) dragons!

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha doesn’t just shelter exotic plants; it also provides habitat for a number of animals and birds. Short necked turtles, water dragons, lorikeets, cockatoos, wood ducks, bush turkeys, possums and many other creatures live within the gardens.

You’ll also likely see the Australian ibis. With its long curved beak it looks exotic to foreigners. It’s nicknamed a “bin chicken” by locals because of its tendency to scavenge trash bins for food.

Stick around until dusk for your best shot at seeing wildlife.

The crocodile in the pond is not real…or so they assure us.

Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve: Kingfishers, Sea Eagles, Spoonbills, Kangaroos and More

Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve lies at the place where river, sea and land meet. It’s a migratory hotspot for birds from all over the world. Egrets, cormorants, spoonbills, sea eagles, kingfishers and many more birds can all be spotted at this park At dawn and dusk, gray kangaroos come out to feed. The trails are wheelchair and stroller-friendly.

Trees, Bushes, Telephone Wires…

If you tune in to your surroundings you might see Australia’s unique wildlife just about anywhere in Brisbane. We’ve spotted flocks of lorikeets on side streets in some of the top restaurant districts, bushtail possums scampering along power lines in the night, and watched bats soar overhead while we waited for an evening ferry. There are also lots of geckos hanging out on hidden, sunlit surfaces during the day, hoping you won’t notice them! Just take a stroll around your neighborhood; you may be surprised at what you see.