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Where To See Wild Kangaroos In Perth

kangaroo at sunset in bushland

Kangaroos. They’re the symbol of Australia, and an animal every visitor hopes they’ll see. If you’re coming to Western Australia, never fear! There are several places to see wild kangaroos in Perth. Here’s where and how you’ll find wild kangaroos around Perth.

Where to see wild kangaroos in and around Perth

You’re guaranteed to see kangaroos in the nearby Perth Zoo and Caversham Wildlife Park. BUT, these kangaroos are of course in captivity. For the real deal, you need to head to particular spots around Perth for the best chance to see wild kangaroos.

Now, I know what you might be thinking:

“Suzy, are you trying to tell me kangaroos just hop about the city?!”

The answer is: no. Kangaroos need lots of space and they don’t like to be out in harsh sunlight. As such, they like forests and places where they can happily graze vegetation without nosey humans staring. Never fear though, there are a handful of places only a short distance from the central city that you can see kangaroos if you’re lucky!

kangaroo crouches in park

Heirisson Island – East Perth

Heirisson Island is right on the Swan River, and is so close to the city of Perth you can walk there!

The island is roughly split in two thanks to the The Causeway bridge that connects East Perth with Victoria Park. At this point in the river, it’s the only island before the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean.

Within the west side of the island there is a 2km walking path as part of a landscaped nature reserve. It’s here that there is a small kangaroo sanctuary which is protected by fences from the rest of the island.

In history, the island is an important part of Perth’s Noongar heritage. Known as Matagarup meaning “leg deep” the area was once a small chain of islands and mud flats that connected to the main land. In 1984 a statue of Whadjuk Noongar warrior Yagan was built on the island to honour Yagan’s leadership and actions in the early years of the Swan River Colony.

Kangaroos on Heirisson Island

In my opinion, Heirisson Island is the best place to see wild kangaroos in Perth. That’s not because there are abundance, mind. There were only 6 kangaroos introduced to the sanctuary, 5 female and 1 male joey. Whether this has resulted in more kangaroos I’m not sure… I can’t find much info on the topic which makes me wonder if they’re left largely alone. I hope so!

kangaroo on heirisson island with city view behind

I’d say it’s a great place to see wild kangaroos in Perth because:

  1. It’s FREE
  2. You get awesome city views at the same time
  3. It’s within walking distance to the city
  4. It’s often pretty peaceful with fewer visitors

You’ll most likely see the kangaroos resting and grazing around the grassy areas towards the centre of the island. Don’t expect to be guaranteed kangaroo sightings, though. Although the sanctuary is a small area, the kangaroos prefer to hide from the hot sunlight and mostly appear at the start and end of the day. Where they hide and rest I have no idea, but don’t go looking through the bushland to find them – that might damage the flora.

We visited Heirisson Island 3 times, and only once saw the kangaroos! 

If you’re lucky enough to find them, it’s a remarkable sight to witness grazing ‘roos surrounded by bushland with the cityscape just beyond. It’s an oasis of calm and reminder of nature in the very middle of Perth.

If you don’t see any kangaroos on Heirisson Island, try again another time. There are plenty of other great things to do on the island such as enjoy a picnic or barbecue, take the walking track, look out for other wildlife such as pelicans, and snap photos of the city view (sunset is especially beautiful).

sunset over swan river facing perth city

How to get to Heirisson Island

It takes around 40 minutes to walk from Elizabeth Quay to Heirisson Island along Riverside Drive.

Simply follow the river until you reach Point Fraser (where there’s a conveniently located cafe and restaurant). From there, continue around the river footpath, head up the steps to cross The Causeway bridge, and turn right onto the western side of the island. Walk towards the western end of the island and you’ll reach the kangaroo sanctuary gate.

Yanchep National Park – City of Wanneroo

Just 50km north of Perth is Yanchep National Park. With a vibrant atmosphere and multiple exciting activities on offer, it’s by far one of the best places to see wild kangaroos in the Perth area.

Within Yanchep National Park you’ll definitely want to make the most of your visit. There is a large picnic area with barbecue facilities to cook up a storm, as well as a small cafe and restaurant.

Other activities to enjoy in the park include walking around the koala boardwalk. Koalas are not native to WA but there are a few protected and cared for here! You can also explore the 9 walking tracks around the lakes in the park. These tracks range from 500m to over 45km to suit all abilities. No matter which you choose you’ll benefit from the local wildlife and bushland to admire!

The park is also famous for its 400 caves! There are various experiences to enjoy the caves, like tours and caving activities.

kangaroo stands in yanchep national park

As for the kangaroos in Yanchep National Park… There are lots!

Stick around until late afternoon when they come out from the shade and you’ll see them hop about in groups. You’ll see mothers with their joeys, and plenty of them munching on the grass. They’re quite happy for you to take photos and watch, but please don’t pet them! A couple ‘roos gave us the odd stare, mostly the larger ones probably being protective so we kept a good distance.

How to get to Yanchep National Park

Driving to Yanchep National Park takes just under 1 hour from Perth. The drive is pretty easy, you just need to get onto Mitchell Freeway/State Route 2 heading north then change onto State Route 60 and you’ll be there.

Entry to Yanchep National Park costs $15 per vehicle (up to 12 passengers), but if you enter Yanchep another national park on the same day you only pay once!

If you’re planning a full day out or longer, you should definitely explore other areas. Stop by Yanchep Lagoon, Two Rocks, and head further north into the Coral Coast to Nambung National Park to see The Pinnacles!

There is a motel and camping facilities at the park, and so much more to enjoy (golf, bird watching, ziplining…). It’s well worth a weekend visit to maximise all that’s on offer.

kangaroo stands upright in yanchep national park

Whiteman Park – Swan Valley

If you want to combine your search for wild kangaroos in Perth with a fun family day out, look no further than Whiteman Park.

There are more than 800 free-roaming kangaroos in the park, most likely around the large picnic areas early in the morning and later in the afternoon. The kangaroos like the fresh grass and abundance of water, which is a real treat compared to natural bushland!

Also in Whiteman Park is Caversham Wildlife Park. If you fancy a chance to really get close to some kangaroos you can hand-feed them here. This is certainly a good option for children, as the temptation to pet and approach the wild kangaroos might be too much to bear! A safe and secure environment to do just that will ensure wandering hands don’t pet the wild animals.

Entry to the Caversham Wildlife Park costs $30 for adults and $14 for children aged 3-14. While it’s not the cheapest way to see kangaroos, it does mean the controlled environment guarantees a memorable experience. If you don’t mind risking your luck, then simply exploring Whiteman Park will be free of charge.

kangaroo jumps across grass

How to get to Whiteman Park

Driving to Whiteman Park from Perth city takes around 30 minutes. Take State Route 53 heading north east. You’ll eventually make a righthand turn into Whiteman Park and follow the road through bushland until you reach the main Whiteman Village area.

As mentioned, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy within the park. As well as various bush walks and and woodland to explore, there are also museums, heritage tram rides, tours, and village shops. You can spend as little or as much time as you like discovering what’s on offer. It’s a strange little place, the village is more of a few wooden huts but it’s definitely intended for families with young children. There are lots of play areas, a water park, and several sheltered picnic tables that you can reserve for parties.

John Forrest National Park – Perth Hills

For an adventurous day trip from Perth, visit John Forrest National Park – one of Australia’s oldest national parks and proclaimed in 1900 is WA’s oldest. Here, you can enjoy various hikes, waterfalls, and beautiful scenery.

The park has a wealth of cultural history. The Nyoongar people lived in this area before European settlers came to Australia, and the surroundings were likely used as hunting land and as a travel route.

Nature-lovers will appreciate the two waterfalls that are in full force during cooler months: Hovea and National Park Falls. The natural beauty doesn’t stop there, though. The park is full of native wildlife of mammals, birds, and reptiles – some of which are rare or specially protected.

Getting around the park, there are several walks to choose from. Depending on your fitness, you could amble a swift 300m walk, or tackle a longer 16km track.

kangaroo at sunset in bushland

As for the kangaroos, well, they like the picnic areas. No surprise there! They’ll be found during late afternoon and early morning and are fairly common to see here. Rarer wildlife may even include an echnida!

How to get to John Forrest National Park

John Forrest National Park is around 35 minutes drive from Perth. Take Graham Farmer Freeway/ State Route 8 until turning onto National Highway 94 heading east. You’ll follow the Swan River until reaching the Midland area and turn off the Great Eastern Highway into the park.

Entry to John Forrest National Park costs $15 per car. The same rules apply that if you visit John Forrest and another national park on the same day you’ll only pay once.

Tips for seeing kangaroos in Perth

  • Don’t get your hopes up. You can’t guarantee that you’ll see any kangaroos. They are wild animals after all!
  • Keep a safe distance. Respect these animals in their natural habitat by giving them space. You’re better off with a nice zoomed in photo than getting too close!
  • Don’t pet or feed them. I cannot stress this enough. Kangaroos will eat anything, but that doesn’t mean they should. Likewise, you wouldn’t pet any old wild animal so why would you pet a kangaroo? If you want an interactive experience, the regulated zoos and wildlife park will organise feeding and petting sessions.
  • Choose your hours wisely. Some say the best time to see wild kangaroos is at dusk and dawn but we find the best time is just before dusk. This way you’ll still have enough light to see them without them being super sleepy.

kangaroo looks at camera

Things you should know about Kangaroos in Western Australia

  • They’ll be Western Grey kangaroos but there are the odd red ones deeper into the outback. Western Grey kangaroos are generally smaller, but they are very spritely and can jump large distances very quickly.
  • You might see kangaroos that you wish you didn’t… Sometimes kangaroos are hit by vehicles and left as roadkill. It’s not pleasant, but it’s a good reminder to drive carefully in these areas.
  • In some areas, kangaroos are considered a pest. They compete for water and pasture which can damage farmland. There are licensed culls that occur every year.
  • Kangaroos live and travel in groups of up to 15. When you see one, there’s a good chance more will be nearby!
  • They look very similar to their relatives, the Eastern Grey kangaroo. The main distinction is the darker brown/grey colour of the Western ‘roos.

Fun Fact: The Australian coat of arms has an emu and a kangaroo facing each other. While these two animals are famed for being native to Australia, they were chosen for the coat of arms because neither can walk backwards. This symbolises Australia as always moving forward.

two kangaroos stand in bushland on heirisson island

Finding kangaroos further afield in Western Australia…

If you plan to explore outside the Perth area, you’ll still get to see kangaroos! In fact, this will likely increase your chances of seeing them. Kangaroos like to have lots of space to jump around and places to eat grass and sit in the shade. The more rural areas will be your best chance to see kangaroos throughout the day!

Wherever you are in Western Australia there’s a chance you’ll see kangaroos. These are a couple of suggestions to enjoy an experience of seeing kangaroos in a beautiful part of WA.

South West

As you drive down state highway 1 towards Bunbury, Busselton, and Margaret River you’ll soon see lots of kangaroo crossing signs on the road.

As you reach this corner of Australia you may come across some wild kangaroos. Particularly in the small towns such as Yallingup you could be enjoying an evening dinner and find a whole herd of kangaroos right outside!

It’s likely that the kangaroos are comfortable in the cooler climate around Australia’s south west. There are lots of fields to run through and the more temperate weather is definitely appealing.

Golden Outback

Around the Golden Outback of Australia you’ll find one of the most unique wild kangaroo experiences in Western Australia. A visit to Cape Le Grand National Park (just 1 hour drive from Esperance) will take you though gorgeous outback roads where kangaroos live.

However, its crowning glory is the wild kangaroos on Lucky Bay. Here, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see wild kangaroos on a pristine white sand beach.

Does it get any more Australian than that?!

Crowds flock to see this rare sight, and with good reason. It is truly a memorable moment to witness Australia’s most symbolic animal in their native home as they hop and graze along the country’s whitest beach (no, really!) with the clear waters lapping behind.

If you plan to road trip around WA or want to take a weekend break to Esperance, you simply can’t miss a visit to Lucky Bay to see these kangaroos!

Esperance kangaroo on beach


Have I convinced you to go in search of wild kangaroos in Perth? I hope so! If you’ve got any other spots around WA you love to see these furry friends let me know. And, if you snap any photos you’re proud of, use #RoosBySuze on Instagram!

 

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