7 winter wildlife encounters

Here’s where to experience incredible animal encounters in South Australia.

1. Short-beaked echidnas | Flinders Ranges

Visit the Flinders Ranges during the colder months and you might just spot this egg-laying mammal bumbling along in the bush (pictured above). While short-beaked echidna’s are quite commonly seen during the day all-year round, these spiny anteaters put on an extra special show during winter because it’s their mating season.

Be on the lookout for an echidna train – a female echidna followed by an orderly queue of three or four eager males who don’t want to let her out of their sight.

2. Giant cuttlefish | Whyalla

Swimming with the cuttlefish is a magical experience. Image: SATC/Carl Charter

See all the colours of the rainbow when you swim among the thousands of giant Australian cuttlefish that congregate to breed in the brisk waters near Whyalla during winter. This phenomenal number of cuttlefish occur nowhere else in the world with the males putting on a spectacular show to look their best.

Hire a wetsuit and snorkelling or diving gear locally or join a guided tour. Don’t want to get your feet wet? There is a glass-bottom boat experience instead.

3. Platypus | Kangaroo Island

Your chances of spotting the elusive platypus is better in winter. Image: Getty

Winter is a great time to spot Australia’s notoriously elusive duck-billed, poison-clawed, semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal. In the colder months, the platypus forages for food not only at dusk and dawn, but often during the day to find enough food to survive the cold.

Head to Kangaroo Island’s Rocky River region to try your luck at spotting a platypus in the wild. If you do miss out, there is lots of other wildlife on the island to discover.

4. Great white sharks | Port Lincoln

Sharks and people in a cage
See magnificent great white sharks in Port Lincoln. Image: Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions

For an adrenaline-pumping animal encounter, come eye-to-eye with these marine predators.

Safely contained within a cage – you, not the shark – you’ll be lowered into the wintry depths near Neptune Island to be amazed and thrilled by these magnificent, powerful giants.

5. Lemurs | Monarto Safari Park

Lemur on a branch
Get up close and personal with lemurs at Monarto Safari Park this winter. Image: Tourism Australia

You don’t need to go to Madagascar to mingle with these wide-eyed primates. Watch lemurs play and leap through the treetops knowing the Land of the Lemurs experience at Monarto Safari Park supports conservation efforts in Madagascar.

You may even be lucky enough to hear the pitter-patter of little winter newborn feet.

6. Migratory shorebirds | Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park

Thousands of birds flock to the lake after the rains. Image: Getty

When the rain hits Australia’s largest salt lake, the region becomes a bird-watchers dream. The lake comes to life as thousands of waterbirds appear out of seemingly nowhere to breed and feast. Pelicans, banded stilts, gull-billed terns, sharp-tailed sandpipers and many more bird varieties flock to the lake.

For the best view, join the birds in the air on a joy flight.

7. Whales | Victor Harbor

Humpback whales (pictured) and Southern right whales migrate to our warmer waters in Winter. Image: Getty

See these magnificent visitors when they travel from Antarctica to our warmer, sheltered shores between May and October. SA’s coastal waters are a breeding and socialising ground for southern right whales, and a stopover for humpback whales passing through. Join a boat tour and see the gentle giants breeching up close or watch from a land-based vantage point along the coast.

Get a map from the South Australian Whale Centre and check their website for up-to-date sightings in the area.

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