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  • Photograph of Splendid Fairywren

    An aptly-named male Splendid Fairywren, photographed in the Stirling Ranges by Mark Harper.

    WESTERN AUSTRALIA

    Best Wildlife in Western Australia

    Mammals
    Over 80% of Australia's mammal species are endemic and in Western Australia they include Numbat, Honey Possum, Quokka, Western Grey Kangaroo and Australian Sealion, while more widespread species include Short-beaked Echidna, Dugong (mostly Sep-Apr), Southern Right (mostly Jul-Sep in Flinders Bay) and Humpback Whales (mostly Jun-Aug in Flinders Bay then on southbound migration in Oct-Nov), Bottlenose Dolphin and New Zealand Fur Seal. Also a chance of Blue Whale (Oct-Nov).

    Birds
    Four of the seven bird families endemic to Australia occur in Western Australia and they are represented by Emu, Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird, and Red-browed, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes. Eight of the eleven families shared only with New Guinea occur in Western Australia and they are represented by fairywrens such as Splendid and White-winged Fairywrens, Southern Emuwren and Western (Thick-billed) Grasswren; Western Bowerbird; Western Whipbird and Chiming Wedgebill; Chestnut and Chestnut-breasted Quail Thrushes; Grey-crowned and White-browed Babblers; Grey and Pied Butcherbirds, Grey Currawong and Australian Magpie; Black-tailed, Rufous and White-browed Treecreepers; and Varied Sittella. Other birds include Malleefowl, Red-tailed Tropicbird (mostly Oct-Nov), Wedge-tailed Eagle and White-bellied Sea Eagle, and 16 or so Western Australia endemics including Long-billed and Short-billed Black Cockatoos, Red-capped and Rock Parrots, Blue-breasted and Red-winged Fairywrens, Western Spinebill, Red-eared Firetail (and Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrub-bird), as well as Black Swan, Australian Shelduck, ducks including Musk and Pink-eared, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australasian Gannet, Australian Pelican, Australasian Darter, Brahminy Kite, Painted Buttonquail, Bush Thick-knee, Banded Lapwing, Hooded Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel, Sooty Oystercatcher, Banded and Black-winged Stilts, Red-necked Avocet, Pacific Gull, Fairy Tern, pigeons including Brush and Common Bronzewings, Galah, Pink Cockatoo, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, parrots including Bourke's, Elegant and Regent, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Southern Boobook, Australian Owlet Nightjar, Laughing Kookaburra, Red-backed Kingfisher, honeyeaters including New Holland, Tawny-crowned and Yellow-plumed, Little and Red Wattlebirds, Banded Whiteface, Black-faced and Dusky Woodswallows, (Western) Crested Shrike Tit, Common Golden and Mangrove Golden Whistlers, Grey Fantail, Willie-Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Red-capped and Scarlet Robins, White-backed Swallow and Silvereye. Also a chance of Little Penguin, Black-browed, (Indian) Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatrosses, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Great-winged Petrel, White-faced Storm Petrel, Cape Barren Goose, Bridled Tern, Scarlet-chested Parrot, Black and Pied Honeyeaters, and Crimson and Orange Chats.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Whale Shark (mostly Apr-Jun), Manta Ray (mostly May-Sep), Thorny Devil, Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragons, and Green and Loggerhead Turtles (both mostly Nov-Dec). Also a chance of Tiger Shark, and Eagle, Giant Shovel-nosed and Sting Rays.

    Plants
    A great variety of wild flowers, including vast spreads of everlastings (Helichrysum spp.), which are usually at their best in mid-September. Also the Karri Tree (Eucalyptus diversicolor) which grows to 90 m (295 ft), one of the tallest trees in the world.

    Other Natural Wonders of Western Australia

    Wave Rock An overhanging ridge of rock about 110 m (361 ft) long and 15 m (49 ft) high sculpted into the shape of a wave by wind and water, about 350 km (220 miles) inland from Perth.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Western Australia

    Best Times for Wildlife in Western Australia

    Dugongs are most likely to be seen during the southern summer between September and April when they usually feed in the Gladstone Special Purpose Zone in the eastern bay and at the southern end of Henri Freycinet Harbour. During the southern winter they usually move to the warmer waters off Dirk Hartog Island, and the Bernier and Dorre Islands. Whale Sharks are usually present at Ningaloo Reef (Exmouth) between April and June, so April is the best time to try and see these two. Manta Rays are also usually present but they usually occur in greater numbers between May and September.

    The start of the southern spring, mid-September to mid-October, is the best time to look for birds because many resident species breed at this time and are therefore at their most active and they are joined by migrants from the north, but many birds can be seen just as easily in April. The best time for wild flower displays is usually mid-September and turtles usually start to nest in the Ningaloo Reef area in November.

    Recommended Books etc. for Western Australia

    The Australian Bird Guide by P Menkhorst et al. CSIRO, 2017.

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by G Pizzey and F Knight. Harper Collins, 2012 (Ninth Edition).

    Birds of Australia by K Simpson and N Day. PUP, 2010 (Eighth Edition).

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by P Slater. New Holland, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Finding Australian Birds by T Dolby and R Clarke. CSIRO, 2014.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia by R Thomas et al. CSIRO, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Field Companion to the Mammals of Australia by S Van Dyck et al. New Holland, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia by P Menkhorst and F Knight. OUP, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Mammals by C Jones and S Parish. Steve Parish Publishing, 2006.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Mammals of Australia by D Andrew. CSIRO, 2015.

    A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by S Wilson and G Swan. New Holland, 2013 (Fourth Edition).

    The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by M Braby. CSIRO, 2004.

    Wildlife of Australia: Princeton Pocket Guides by I Campbell and S Woods. PUP, 2013.

    Wildlife of Australia by L Egerton and J Lochman. Allen and Unwin, 2009.

    Bradt Travel Guides: Australian Wildlife by S Martin. Bradt, 2010.


    Wildflowers of Southern Western Australia by M G Corrick and B A Fuhrer. Five Mile Press, 2009 (Third Edition).

    Guide to the Wildflowers of Western Australia by S Neville. Simon Neville Publications, 2006 (Third Edition).


    Apps etc.

    The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia.

    Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Australasia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Western Australia

    Many trip reports, some for Western Australia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Western Australia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Western Australia' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Western Australia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Western Australia

    Some Organized Tours to Western Australia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Western Australia include the following.