Blue Mountains Australian Wildlife
Kangaroos in the Blue Mountains
Kangaroos are most easily spotted at dawn and dusk. While there are kangaroos throughout the Blue Mountains they are not hopping down the main street, or lazing on every corner. You will need to go looking for them.
The most easily accessed location to see wild kangaroos is at Euroka Clearing in the Blue Mountains National Park at Glenbrook at the foot of the mountains, and Megalong Valley on the western side of the mountains. Dawn and dusk bring the kangaroos out onto the grassland where they are easy to spot as they relax and feed on the grass. While they are around all day, they tend to shade in the bushland during the heat of the day which can make them difficult to see.
Many areas of the Blue Mountains offer the opportunity to spot wallabies, a small macropod marsupial, which looks like a smaller version of a kangaroo. If you go for an early morning bushwalk, listen for the distinctive thud, thud of a retreating wallaby.
Megalong Valley to Jenolan Caves and Oberon also offer abundant opportunities to see kangaroos. Large areas of farmland offer grass for the kangaroos to eat where they are quite exposed and easy to see. There is nothing quite like the site of a silhouette of a kangaroo on the hillside at sunset.
Species you might spot in the Blue Mountains:
- Eastern Grey Kangaroos - fully grown males can grow to 2m tall. They have a small head and big ears. Kangaroos are herbivores and graze on shrubs and grass in the morning and at anight and lie under shaded trees during the day.
- Common Wallaroo - more common on steep slopes and stony areas where their rough-soled feet securely grip the rocks. The male wallaroo can also grow to 2m tall.
- Swamp Wallaby - a smaller relative of the kangaroo standing about 80cm tall, has dark brown fur down its back and a tan belly and chest. Prefers thick forest undergrowth and sandstone heath.
- Red-necked Wallaby - smaller like the swamp wallaby but much more similar colouring to the Eastern Grey Kangaroo these wallabys can be destinguised by their white cheek markings and red colouring on the neck.
Koalas in the Blue Mountains
Koalas are a threatened species and are vulnerable to extinction across Australia. Their once thriving population has diminished as their suitable habitat declines.
The Blue Mountains is not an area known for its koala population and there is very little chance of visitors seeing one in the wild during a short visit. Most locals won’t have seen one in the local area, even if they’ve lived here for decades.
Over the last few years koalas have been spotted in parts of the Blue Mountains where they have not been seen for decades. In December 2013 after devastating bushfires in the Blue Mountains three koalas emerged from the burnt bushland in Springwood, and a koala was spotted in Wentworth Falls. This was the first record of a sighting in the upper mountains since the 1940s.
Although koalas are not normally seen in the ridgelines of the Blue Mountains there are historical records indicating they have been spotted in the valleys.
There is currently a national study led by the University of Sydney together with James Cook University and San Diego Zoo Global gathering information with the intent to prioritise koala populations for conservation management.
Science for Wildlife is a not-for-profit research partner working on a project to find and map local populations in the Blue Mountains, in order to help conserve them.
Koalas in the Blue Mountains are important to this project due to their genetic diversity and the large World Heritage Area might be utilised as an important habitat refuge for other populations.
Satellite tracking is currently in use tracking koala movements to gain an insight into their habitat preferences and their daily and seasonal movements. Koalas are more active in summer, which is mating season so they will move greater distances to find a mate, and young koalas will branch out on their own.
Koala sightings have increased in the Hawkesbury around Grose Vale, Kurrajong, Blaxlands Ridge, Bilpin and Colo Heights.
If you spot a koala in the Blue Mountains, be sure to let Science for Wildlife know.