Macropods – Kangaroos, Wallabies, Potoroos, Bettongs – are a fascinating group of 71 living (extant) species in Australia, Papua New Guinea and West Papua.
Australia has 51 species of macropod, but few people have ever seen them all. Wouldn’t it be fun to try to see most of them, in the wild?
A mission like that would take you to some of Australia’s most exciting places – Kakadu & Arnhemland for the Black Wallaroo, Mungo for Red & Western Grey Kangaroos, Tasmania for the Tasmanian Pademelon, far north Queensland for the Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo, Croajingolong, Victoria for Red-necked Wallabies and Long-nosed Potoroo, Katherine Northern Territory for Spectacled Hare-wallaby.
Sadly 4 species of the 51 Australian macropods are not really possible to see in the wild. Only a handful of researchers ever see wild Boodie, Gilbert’s Potoroo, Banded Hare-wallaby or Mala. Protection of the small populations of these macropods is paramount – rather than trying to see them maybe spend your time lobbying for better feral animal control and climate change mitigation, and donating to organisations that improve and create habitat – like Nature Conservancy, Bush Heritage, Mount Rothwell Biodiversity & Interpretation Centre, Arid Recovery Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
A further 4-6 species are very difficult, but still possible to see in the wild. Seeing the Long-footed Potoroo, Cape York, Sharman’s or Godman’s Rock-wallaby, Nabarlek or Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo would involve nighttime spotlighting in remote locations and a lot of luck.
But it’s not a mission without a challenge!
That leaves +/-41 species that will be fun to find. Here’s a full checklist of all the Australian Kangaroos & Wallabies. Or you can open it here and download to create your own list (go to file > download as..)
New Guinea (Papua New Guinea & West Papua) has another 20 species – many of which are very difficult to see. If you are interested in that full list, click here:
One of the easiest ways to see kangaroos and wallabies is with an experienced Wildlife Guide – they know where to look and sometimes have access to some off-limit places. We recommend these companies:
FNQ Nature Tours: Lumholtz’s & Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo
Exceptional Kangaroo Island: Kangaroo Island subspecies of Western Grey Kangaroo, Tammar Wallaby
Lord’s Arnhemland Safaris: Agile Wallaby, Wilkins’ Rock-wallaby, Black Wallaroo, Antilopine Kangaroo
Premier Travel Tasmania: Tasmanian Pademelon, Tasmanian Bettong, Long-nosed Potoroo, Bennett’s (Red-necked) Wallaby, Forester (Eastern Grey) Kangaroo.
Arkaba: Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo, Common Wallaroo
.. and of course, we at Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours can show you 8 to 10 species of macropod on the 21 day Maximum Wildlife tour.
Thanks to Tim Bawden, Chris Sanderson, Jon Hall, Chris James, Ry Beaver, Marc Gardner and Ratu Simon Greppler who provided information for this blog, mostly through the wonderful facebook group Australian Mammal Watching.
Please follow Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group on facebook and keep up to date with Australia’s most endangered macropod. There are less than 100 alive, but a recent release to another WA island site is doing well. We might not be able to see them in the wild now, but if they get some help, we might in 10 years!
Tim Bawden is a renowned birder and mammal watcher based in Melbourne, Victoria. He is very generous with his time and knowledge. http://gobirding.com.au/
Ry Beaver is based in Perth, WA and is a passionate photography and citizen scientist. https://wildlifewatchingaustralia.wordpress.com/
Jon Hall is an avid bird and mammal watcher, currently based in New York. He is the only one I know of who’s seen almost all the Australian macropods – 48 out of 51 at this time. http://www.mammalwatching.com/
Marc Gardner lives in Katherine, Northern Territory. He passionately follows the birds, mammals and reptiles of that area and has found and monitored rare birds including Gouldian Finches, Yellow-rumped Mannikins and Hooded Parrots. He is very generous with his knowledge.