Out & About

8 Places To Spot Wildlife In The Illawarra

You don’t need to leave town to see some of Australia’s beautiful wildlife

You might think you need to jump in the car and head out west or down the coast to see some of our country’s best wildlife.

Good news everyone, you don’t.

You can actually peep at some incredible animals right here in the Illawarra. All you need is your comfy walking shoes, a little bit of patience and our handy list of the best spots to check out wildlife in the Illawarra.

PSA :: The key word in wildlife is WILD. Most of these critters are better observed from afar, so please do not try to touch or feed them. This is their home as well as ours, so make sure any spotting you do is with respect for them and their habitats.

1 :: Whale Watching

Shellharbour Wild is a cruise service operating out of the gorgeous Shell Cove Marina.

They offer amazing whale watching cruises from May to November.

Jump on a boat and get looking for those majestic humpbacks as they migrate across the ocean.
It’s a pretty magical experience to see them in the water and even more special to watch as they surge into the sky before coming back down with a big splash!

If you can’t make it in time for the whales, they also offer eco-scenic cruises from November to May, where you can explore our stunning coastline and even spot pods of dolphins and seals.

2 :: Seal Spotting

Speaking of those big furry beauties, there are a couple of fab spots along the coast to catch a look at seals.

We think a choice spot to see them is along the Port Kembla Breakwater, right next to the Outer Harbour Boat Ramp.

Follow the breakwater along until you reach around the 1000m mark.

Here you’ll see a sign warning you not to feed the seals – that’s probably a good indication you’re in the right place.

They like to hang down near the bottom of the breakwater close to the water.

Do not try to climb on the rocks to see them as it is not safe and the view is just as clear from the path

3 :: Bird Watching

Bird watching is not just a hobby your grandpa does, it’s super fun for all ages.

There are plenty of native birds to be spotted all around the Illawarra including the black swan, kestrel and willy wagtail.

Wollongong City Council is a great resource on where and how to spot birds around the Illawarra or even better you can join a group of like-minded bird enthusiasts. Illawarra Birders is a bird-watching club that hosts lots of interesting activities for any budding twitchers [person who enjoys watching birds], so check ‘em out!

4 :: Butterfly Peeping

Butterflies are just the prettiest and every time we see one we can’t help but get those Alice in Wonderland vibes.

Aaaanyway, most houses with gardens in the Illawarra are bound to get a visit from those little winged babies from time to time, but if you’d like to spend a day on the lookout for them then Mount Keira Summit is an excellent place to head.

Again, Wollongong City Council provides some pretty helpful info on what type of butterflies to look out for if you’d like to make the most of your visit.

5 :: Searching For Swamp Wallabies

Also known as the black-tailed wallaby or even black stinker [hehe], these guys like thick forests and woodlands.

It would make sense then that the best place to go to catch a glimpse of them is the dense and delightful Minnamurra rainforest.

They can be pretty elusive so we can’t guarantee you’ll spot one every time you go, but hey, it’s just a really good excuse to visit the rainforest again and again.

6 :: Admiring Glow Worms

Entering the glow worm tunnel in Helensburgh can feel a bit surreal or out of this world.

This is an abandoned railway tunnel now home to a population of shiny and bright glow worms.

The tunnel is very dark and muddy so wear the proper shoes and clothing and take precautions when walking inside.

The best time to visit is in the warmer and wetter months of the year as they are more likely to be at their brightest.

7 :: Listen Out For Rare Frogs

Coomaditchie [Coomaditchy] lagoon is one of the largest lagoons in the Illawarra and alongside birds and other wildlife, you can find the very rare green and gold bell frog.

These guys are endangered, but it seems their numbers are slowly increasing around the lagoon – yay!

They might not be the easiest to lay eyes on, but you can hear their calls when you visit the lagoon, especially in the evenings when they become the most active.

8 :: Symbio Wildlife Park

If you just want to see it all in one place, then Symbio Wildlife Park is the number one spot for you!

Home to all the Aussie animal faves including koalas, kangaroos and emus, the zoo also houses non-native animals like cheetahs, small monkeys and meerkats.

There are farmyard animals, picnic areas, a kiosk and even a splash pool in the summer months, so there is something for everyone.

See? Literally!

There sure are loads of wonderful wildlife right here at our doorstep for you to enjoy.

Grab your binoculars and your sense of adventure and off you go.

Don’t forget to check out all our other EXPLORE articles in our Lifestyle Guide for even more excellent ideas on how to make the most of the incredible Illawarra.

Hannah Castelli Author Bio

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