Zoos are awesome, but there’s nothing quite like the thrill of spotting an animal in its natural habitat. Queensland just happens to be a bit of a hub of animal activity. Chances are pretty high you’re going to spot SOMETHING on your next trip here, but you can increase your chances with a trip to these places – and of course, you’re going to be safe and respectful when you do.

Cape Hillsborough National Park

Just north of Mackay, you’ll hit this coastal treasure of a national park. You know those really awesome pics of kangaroos on the beach? You could totally get one here. Echidnas also call this park home, as well as a multitude of reptiles and colourful butterflies. Head towards the coast for flatback and green turtle sightings year round, and whale sightings from July to August.

Great Barrier Reef

Ok yes at first glance this is obvious. You can pretty much snorkel around any part of the world’s largest living organism to see all manner of sea life, from manta rays and wales to Nemo. But the less obvious point I’m making here – if you’d give me a moment – is that The Ribbon Reefs are the only place in the WORLD you can snorkel with the rare and mysterious Minke Whale from June to July.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is gorgeous, but it also boasts a long list of native fauna. Are you ready for this list? Cassowaries, Hercules moths, giant blue Ulysses butterflies, possums, small wallabies, bilbies, green tree frogs, echidnas, goannas, pythons, and crocodiles if you’ve got a keen eye scanning the rivers and mangroves. A quick note to PLEASE be sensible with the cassowaries, who are pretty damn aggressive, and crocs…I shouldn’t have to explain this one.

Magnetic Island

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How cute is this baby koala?!? I found it on Magnetic Island, and he even woke up and moved a little for us! . Did you know koalas often sleep for about 18 hours a day! Insane! But when they do decide to move, they can move super quickly. . Have you ever seen one of the cute animals? . . . . . #koala???? #howcuteisthis #magneticisland #localwildlife #australiaeastcoast #exploring_the_earth #travelpost #travelphotooftheday #travellolife #travellist #travelpictures #travelposts #traveldaily #travelinsta #travelislove #explorewithme #igrefined #majestic_earth_ #special_shotz #traveltolive #eclectic_shots #globalwanderer #getbackpacking #exploretheglobebucketlist #globetrotters #travelpicsdaily

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Koalas guys! Koalas! Why are they so cute though? Anyway, Magnetic Island is an easy 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville and an absolute delight if you feel like chilling beachside, or animal spotting. Besides the koalas, you’ll also nearly certainly see rock-wallabies. There are heaps of possums and flying-foxes on land, as well as dugongs and sea turtles in and around the ocean.

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is basically THE place to go whale watching during the season from June to November when migrating mama Humpbacks take advantage of the calm coast to teach their bubs newborn calves before heading on out to sea. There is an actual plethora of tours who would love to take you out to see them up close – but like, respectfully close.

Image: iStock Images / [JohnCrux]