By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Updated: December 20, 2021 at 7:52 am
South Australia has a diverse variety of wildlife. From sea lions and whales in the ocean to giraffes and lions at an African-style safari park, we’re spoilt for choice.
With so many places to safely get up close and personal to the array of animals residing in our state, we’ve put together a handy list of 7 experiences to get you started.
1. Cuddle a koala in Cudlee Creek
Cuddling a koala isn’t just for international visitors, fascinated about the furry marsupials. At Gorge Wildlife Park in Cudlee Creek, you too can have a cuddly encounter with one of the park’s beautiful koalas.
Gorge Wildlife Park doesn’t just have koalas though. Feed their many kangaroos, or if you’re visiting on the weekend, see the hands-on reptile presentation.
During your visit, take a leisurely stroll and view the park’s many animals, including dingoes, Tasmanian devils and wombats.
If you’re an RAA member and want to cuddle a koala, you can save on tickets to Gorge Wildlife Park.
2. Take a safari at Monarto
Have you experienced the little piece of Africa in our own backyard? Located only an hour up the South Eastern Fwy, Monarto Safari Park is home to more than 500 animals.
Spanning more than 1500 hectares, the park offers a variety of hands-on experiences; mingle with meerkats, feed giraffes or enjoy a close (but safe) encounter with lions.
Well-known animals like cheetahs, rhinos and hyenas reside at Monarto, as well as lesser-known species such as African painted dogs, blackbucks and Nyalas.
If you’re looking for an animal experience with a bit of a twist, try the Monarto Wild Gin tour. Take the Walk of the Brave Lions 360 experience and go behind the scenes for an exclusive gin tasting.
3. Swim with the sea lions
The oceans off the coast of SA are full of diverse marine life. In winter, whales migrate along our shores, and enchanting sea lions swirl and dance in the waters near Port Lincoln.
An Adventure Bay Charters’ half-day tour can get you up close to majestic sea lions in the waters near Seal Cove. Swim alongside the curious puppies as they perform somersaults and glide through the crystal-clear water.
4. Watch birds fly on KI
Gaze skywards as birds of prey like wedge-tailed eagles swoop down and hunt for their next meal at Raptor Domain at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island.
This educational rehabilitation centre takes orphaned birds into its care, which are often unable to be released into the wild.
Instead, they become ambassadors for their species, helping to educate visitors about birds of prey.
Pay a visit and you can witness owls, eagles and falcons as they demonstrate their natural behaviour in interactive and educational shows.
5. Kayak through a dolphin sanctuary
Imagine dolphins jumping out of the water as you glide along in a kayak. Well, it’s possible at Garden Island near Port Adelaide.
While we can’t promise dolphin acrobatics near your kayak, you can paddle your way through the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary – home to 30 bottlenose dolphins.
Kayak through mangroves and encounter dolphins feeding, playing and nursing their young in their natural habitat.
Dolphin Kayak Tours offer both self-guided and guided experiences around Garden Island.
6. Go nocturnal
If you’ve ever wondered what wildlife comes out of hiding when darkness descends, go on a Kangaroo Island Hire a Guide Nocturnal Tour.
During this 3-hour night tour, you’ll find wallabies, possums and western grey kangaroos, as well as more elusive creatures such as boobook owls and stone curlews.
If you’re lucky, you might even see an adorable wild fairy penguin along the Kingscote coastline.
7. See the animals in the city
Fu Ni and Wang Wang might still be the stars at the Adelaide Zoo, but there are plenty of other animal encounters on offer.
You can hand-feed the Aldabra tortoise, get up close to the little penguins, or have meerkats run over your lap in search of a tasty treat.
Don’t forget to explore the rest of this oasis in the city, with dozens of animals calling the zoo home. Meet the zookeepers who give daily educational presentations or simply walk around and look at the many animals on show.