Flora and Fauna
50 million years of isolation has led to a unique evolutionary sanctuary of plants and animals. Australia has an exceptional range of species with more than 80% of the native mammals, frogs, reptiles and flowering plants found nowhere else in the world. Endemic mammals include the kangaroo, koala, platypus, echidna, possum, wombat and dingo. There are also a number of interesting birds, such as emus, brightly coloured parrots, cockatoos and the laughing kookaburra.
Distinctive plants include the ubiquitous gum tree or eucalypt, of which there are some 700 species. Other common plants are wattle, banksia, waratahs, bottlebrushes, paperbarks and tea trees. Australia is also home to some of the oldest flora on the planet - from the tropical rainforests of the Daintree National Park to ancient pine forests towering over Tasmania, and the recent discovery of the Wollemi Pine in the Blue Mountains, thought to have been extinct since the Jurassic Era.
- Please do not feed - or attempt to touch - any wild animals, including marine creatures and live corals.
- Whether swimming, snorkelling or diving, resist the urge to touch what you see. Coral are made up of thousands of tiny living polyps which are incredibly delicate.
- When collecting shells, check for live animals that may be living inside them. If there are any tiny creatures, gently return the shells to where they were found.
- It is illegal to damage, collect or otherwise take coral - including dead coral, and protected shell species (including giant triton, helmet shells and giant clams) in the Great Barrier Marine Park without a permit.
- It is also illegal to pick flowers or collect plants in Australia's national parks.
- You can help care for Australia's national parks and natural environments by keeping to paths provided, treading carefully and walking quietly for the best chance of seeing - without scaring - the native wildlife, and carrying all rubbish (including organic litter) with you to dispose of thoughtfully after your visit.