Your Australian Wildlife Travel Guide from HI Hostels
Unique wildlife, idyllic landscapes, vibrant cities
Australia is one of only 12 'megadiverse' countries which account for 75% of the world’s total biodiversity. Along with sun, sand and surfing, the amazing wildlife is an unmissable and unforgettable part of any trip ‘Down Under’. In this guide, we recommend 19 HI hostels that are perfectly located to allow you to get up close to Australia’s unique wildlife.
Where to stay
There is an excellent network of HI Youth Hostel® accommodation throughout Australia. All HI Hostels are conveniently located for easy access to key visitor sights, nightlife and transport links.
New South Wales
The Sydney Harbour Hostel in the historic Rocks district offers stunning views across the Harbour. It is ideal for visiting Taronga Zoo, the nation's leading zoological garden, featuring Australia's finest collection of native animals and a diverse collection of exotic species. For more adventure, head to Sydney Pittwater Hostel around 30km north of the city in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Spot possums, wallabies, goanna and kookaburras during organised bushwalks and boat trips.
At the HI Hostel in Port Macquarie enjoy the beach, spot pelicans or take a dolphin or whale-watching boat trip. From the Narooma Hostel take a trip to Montague Island where you can observe seals, whales, stingrays and pelicans. It is considered to be one of the best spots in the region for whale watching.
The HI Cairns Hostel is perfect for exploring World Listed rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef and the outback. Do not miss Kurunda Village - a picturesque mountain retreat surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest that is home to platypus, fresh water crocodiles, green tree snakes, yellow fig birds and gaudy parrots. The HI Magnetic Island Hostel has its own wildlife sanctuary. Magnetic Island is a haven for rock wallabies, koalas, lorikeets, sunbirds, brahmini kites and cockatoos. Take a guided sea kayak tour to see dolphins, turtles, coral reef fish and sea eagles. At the HI Mission Beach Hostel, sleep in a treehouse high in lush rainforest, close to sun-kissed beaches, the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. Look out for the cassowary, a rare and beautiful flightless bird. A stop at Colonial Village, the HI Hervey Bay Hostel on Fraser Island is a must! This National Park is the largest sand island in the world and is home to a variety of rare birds and animals including the dingo. See lizards, swamp wallabies possum and watch humpback whales.
From the HI Darwin Hostel it is easy to visit the stunning World Heritage Kakadu National Park. See millions of migratory birds in the wetlands, crocodiles sunning their hides on the river bank and animals unique to this region, including: black wallaroo, chestnut-quilled rock pigeon and the white throated grass wren.
The HI Hostel in Exmouth has the Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National park on its doorstep. Enjoy the rare and exhilarating opportunity to swim with whale sharks and manta rays, or snorkel in the clear waters of Turquoise Bay. At the HI Monkey Mia Hostel meet the bottle-nosed dolphins who visit the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Explore vast underground sea beds, see a large population of dugongs (sea-cows) and watch marine life from a glass-bottomed boat. A tranquil paradise in Mundaring National Park, the HI Perth Hills Hostel is visited daily by Elsa, Wookie and other kangaroos! Enjoy walking/cycling trails and bird watching. Join a Kerakamia animal sanctuary dusk walk to see wyolies, tammar wallabies and southern brown bandicoots. Right in the city, the HI Hostel in Perth City is ideal for a trip to Rottnest Island. It is home to many unusual animals and plants, especially a small marsupial called the quokka which looks like a pint-sized kangaroo.
From the HI Kangaroo Island Hostel take a day- or night-walk in the many conservation parks and sanctuaries to experience wildlife including: penguins, tammar wallabies, Australian sea lions, echidnas, heth goannas and kangaroos. The HI Port Elliot Hostel is ideal for exploring the Urimbirra Wildlife Park and Granite Island, where you can see the fairy penguins on their nightly pilgrimage. Don’t miss the Whale Watch Centre in Victor Harbor. Get away from it all at the HI Hostel in Port Kenny, located in Coodlie Park. Join a nocturnal tour to see western grey kangaroos, hairy-nose wombats, rabbits, fox and ground nesting birds. Swim with sea lions and dolphins, or dive with great white sharks at Eyres Peninsula.
The sustainable HI Apollo Bay Hostel is very close to the Great Otway National Park where you can join organised walks with experienced guides. For more adventure, hire a kayak and paddle out to meet the local seal colony! Stop at the HI Phillip Island Hostel to see little penguins emerge from the sea during the Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach. Meet 16,000 Australian fur seals at Seal Rocks, get close to koalas on a treetop walk at the Koala Conservation Centre, watch the annual shearwater migration at Cape Woolami. The HI Halls Gap Hostel in the Grampians National Park is perfect for seeing kangaroos, wallabies and emus in the bush, and possums and sugar gliders in the trees during the evening.
Find out more about all HI Hostels in Australia.