A pristine beach, the sun rising and wild kangaroos, what more can you ask for in Australia? In my view it’s definitely worth seeing the kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough in Queensland.
For anyone planning a trip along the East Coast of Australia, the idea of seeing kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough is something that would, and probably should, be on every visitors bucket list. Whether it’s as idyllic as you picture in your mind is something we’ll come on to but now that we’ve done it, seeing Australia’s most famous marsupial on the beach at sunrise was an experience that we’ll remember forever.
This activity however is quite controversial with some either saying it was one of the best things they’d done in Australia whilst others leaving very disappointed. Let’s talk about that after giving you an overview first.
HOW TO SEE THE KANGAROOS ON THE BEACH AT CAPE HILLSBOROUGH
Cape Hillsborough is situated on the east coast of Australia in Queensland less than 50km north of Mackay and around 125km south of Airlie Beach. Many travellers will pass Cape Hillsborough entirely choosing to get to Airlie Beach sooner rather than later to experience one of the (almost certainly) best things to do in Australia; sailing the Whitsunday Islands. For those that are in charge of their own trip, those of us who are on a slow road trip from Sydney to Cairns (or vice versa), I would say that Cape Hillsborough is definitely worth a short stop.
This area of Queensland is absolutely stunning; think eucalyptus forests, clear blue ocean and tropical weather. Given that Cape Hillsborough National Park is a little off the main A1 road and that there is a ‘do not miss’ experience so close, this area can be quieter and therefore extremely peaceful. Perfect for a relaxing walk along the beach or through the rainforest. Remember however that this is crocodile territory so swimming is not advised!
To see the famed kangaroos that arrive for their breakfast at dawn, you’ll need to head to Casuarina Beach in Cape Hillsborough National Park and the tourist/caravan park of the same name. Each and every morning you can expect to see a small number of kangaroos and wallabies come onto the beach for their feed of seedpods and seaweed.
I can’t quite remember where we stayed the night before in the campervan (probably some non-descript side-of-the-road free camp) but we woke at 5am, drove whilst it was still pitch black and arrived before the other tourists had wandered down from the campsite. I can imagine it would have been much easier to pay for a pitch at the campsite ($42 for one night with power) but every dollar saved meant we could travel that little bit further.
Whilst we had experienced the whole kangaroo/human relationship at many campsites across Australia, we had hoped for a slightly more ‘natural’ experience at Cape Hillsborough. That wasn’t what we got though and this is probably why many people do leave disappointed.
The kangaroos in this region probably did feed from the beach but now the situation is entirely ‘man-made’ including the placement of cones around the beach from which the kangaroo’s breakfast is served. Some of the visitors, the two kangaroos we saw, were hand-reared too by the tourist park so please don’t expect the most natural experience.
When we visited, the sun forgot to turn it’s rise on so we were met with a dull cloudy brightening that could easily have been mistaken for the east coast of England if it weren’t for the kangaroos and wallabies hopping around. That said, it did still make for cool and one of a kind photo opportunities that I made sure I took full advantage of. For the photographers out there, I found that my telephoto lens (Fujifilm 55-200mm) worked best so that I didn’t get too close to the wildlife.
Unfortunately, even in this remote part of Australia, you couldn’t escape the tourists who would do anything for a selfie with a kangaroo. The tourists definitely outnumbered the wildlife that decided to join us that morning so, with not wanting to outstay our welcome, we left after not too long and headed onwards to Airlie Beach.
I told you that I would explain why many people leave seeing the kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough disappointed but, if you have time to spare and go in fully prepared, then I would say definitely visit Cape Hillsborough and I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
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