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Where Can you See Wildlife for Free in Sydney?

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by Eunice (subscribe)
I'm a city girl passionate about travelling, discovering new places and making the most out of my weekends.
Published July 23rd 2012
I love that Sydney has a ton of wildlife attractions for animal lovers such as Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, wildlife parks and more, but they all come at a cost that can sometimes feel exorbitant.

After you've exhausted all these places and you want more wildlife experiences without having to travel to Queensland or camp out in national parks, what do you do?

Here are four good spots to see animals in nature in Sydney.
Nothing beats the thrill of seeing wildlife in their element and even better when it's free. This activity requires a combination of good timing, lots of patience and good eyesight and the payoff can be enormous.

Cape Solander
whale watches at Cape Solander

1. Whale spotting in Cape Solander

This is Sydney's best spot for whale watching, and the peak season is June and July when humpback whales migrate to warmer waters. Located in Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Cape Solander makes for a perfect lookout as you get an unhindered view of the stunning coastline and blue waters stretching out towards the horizon.

Pack a picnic and a mat as you could be here for a good few hours before spotting a whale or two. Bring a pair of binoculars and dress warm.

Patience level required: High (expect at least an hour or two of waiting unless you're incredibly lucky)
Time of day: Daylight hours during migrational months of June and July
Payoff: Very high

Cape Solander whale watching
the sprout of water from a whale

2. Kangaroos and wallabies around Lithgow Prison

Granted that this place is about an hour and a bit drive from Sydney, but it's still within reach. This spot was a tip off from a local and it requires you to be up very early to catch these marsupials lazing around the prison grounds. Any later and you might be in for a disappointment.

Best if you're staying over the weekend in the Blue Mountains or you'll have to depart really early from Sydney.

Patience level required: None. If you spot it, you spot it. There's no waiting required.
Time of day: Very early around the crack of dawn. Miss this window of opportunity and you'll miss the kangaroos and wallabies.
Payoff: High

wild kangaroos and wallabies
kangaroos in the wild

3. Flying foxes in Royal Botanic Gardens

These bat-like creatures are in abundance in the Royal Botanic Gardens. You'll usually hear and smell them before you see them, and they are dangling off tree branches so look up. Hang around till dusk and you'll see them flying off in droves.

Patience level required: Low. You need to strain your neck and look up to spot them.
Time of day: Anytime, but hang around till dusk if you want to see them flying in packs
Payoff: Medium to high (if you enjoy watching bat-like creatures)

flying foxes in Royal Botanic Gardens
flying foxes camouflaged within tree branches

4. Cockatoos in Royal Botanic Gardens

These birds can be found clustered towards the Domain end of the gardens and they are so used to humans that you can get really close to these creatures. Great photo opportunities as they hang around long enough for you to trigger away.

Patience level required: None.
Time of day: Anytime during daylight hours
Payoff: Medium to high

cockatoos in Royal Botanic Gardens
a cockatoo up close


cockatoos in Royal Botanic Gardens
cockatoos in Royal Botanic Gardens


What are some other places in Sydney for free wildlife spotting that you know about? Do share!
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Flying foxes are gone from the Botanic Gardens as of June
by keggo (score: 1|12) 2294 days ago
In the Lane Cove National Park there are great bush walks and we have spotted Bush Turkeys, Powerful Owls, finches, all sorts of Cockatoos/Parrots and at night time, Bandicoots.
by Cornelia Deller (score: 2|182) 2301 days ago
The wallabies come down to students in the playground at Mater Maria College, Warriewood.
by Mark Horton (score: 1|33) 2301 days ago
I forgot to mention that I have plenty of possums and bandicoots in my backyard and I am more than a kilometre from the bush at Mona Vale. I have a blue tongue land other lizzard varities. Not so native though are the many rabbits that run around my bacyard and street. We also have cockatoos, magpies, ravens, laurikeets and many other native birds.

Nearby though and worth the look in the Warriewood wetlands and wetland walks you can see many native birds including some that are rare.
by Mark Horton (score: 1|33) 2301 days ago
Paul rota
by Alici (score: 0|2) 2255 days ago
See Wildlife fro free in Mulgoa - a beautiful day trip - approximately 1 hour's drive from Sydney on the M4 . Go visit the Schoenstatt Shrine 230 Fairlight Rd, Mulgoa. Set in beautiful bushland just walk/ drive to the back of the property and see Kangaroos and Wallabies bounding around.
by rinavp (score: 0|2) 2181 days ago

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