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Top 5 Animals To Spot In The Northern Territory

By: Dakota Murphey January 31, 2024
Known for being the heart of Australia is the Northern Territory, home to some of the country’s most remarkable wildlife. As you explore this area’s diverse landscapes, keep watch for unique animals around every turn.

In the tropical Top End, you may spot lazy crocodiles sunning themselves along riverbanks and nimble rock wallabies bounding over ancient boulders. Down in the dusty Red Centre, watch kangaroos kick up red dirt as they hop across sweeping plains, while emus roam freely. The Northern Territory is brimming with iconic Aussie critters, so pack your hat and sturdy shoes for your Northern Territory adventure.

Red Kangaroo

The red kangaroo is an iconic mammal and the largest of its kind in the world. With muscular frames, large feet and deep red-brown fur, these impressive animals are a sight to behold as they bound across the rusty landscapes of Australia’s Northern Territory.

For your best chance at spotting them, head to the wide-open grasslands and woodlands of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, West MacDonnell National Park or Litchfield National Park. Aim for the late afternoon and early evening when the ‘roos are most active. Watch in awe as mobs of red kangaroos graze on grasses or pause to stand tall and alert, displaying their full imposing size. For a majestic photo, try capturing these creatures silhouetted against a blazing outback sunset.

Observing the largest marsupial in the world bouncing through the wild Northern Territory bush is a truly incredible experience. Seeing the iconic red kangaroo in its natural habitat is sure to become one of the most memorable highlights of your trip down under.

Gouldian Finch

With its extraordinarily vivid plumage in striking shades of sapphire, emerald, gold and crimson, the Gouldian Finch is considered one of the world’s most colourful and beautiful small bird species. This petite rainbow-feathered finch was named after the prominent 19th century British ornithologist John Gould.

Once found across all of Northern Australia, the brilliant Gouldian finch is now restricted to small isolated populations in the tropical savanna regions of the Northern Territory and Kimberley area of Western Australia. Within the Northern Territory, prime spots for potential sightings are areas like Yinberrie Hills and Keep River National Park.Your best chances of observing these finches are during the dry season between May and October, when they gather in small flocks near scarce water sources and seeding native grasses. Bring along a pair of binoculars and watch patiently as these agile birds flit and feed amongst swaying grass stalks or pause to perch on low branches. The males in particular make a vibrant splash of colour against the neutral Outback backdrop.

Freshwater Crocodile

The freshwater crocodile is an impressive prehistoric reptile that can reach lengths over 3 metres. While smaller than their notorious saltwater relatives, freshwater crocodiles are still an incredible sighting for Northern Territory visitors.

These crocodilians prefer to inhabit the freshwater billabongs, creeks and rivers of northern Australia. The best spots for potential sightings include the wetlands of Mary River and Yellow Waters Billabong in Kakadu National Park. Although more shy and less aggressive than saltwater crocodiles, these creatures should still be observed from a safe distance. 

Patiently scan along the muddy riverbanks for a glimpse of their elongated snout and armoured brown scales – you may even spot one swimming with just its eyes and nose poking above the water, camouflaged as a floating log.

Northern Quoll

In addition to the more well-known kangaroos and crocodiles, keep a lookout for the northern quoll – a small carnivorous marsupial distinguished by its striking reddish-orange fur. Nocturnal and energetic, these endangered quolls reside across northern Australia’s Top End, including inside Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.

As a lesser seen Australian native animal, spotting a northern quoll is a special treat for wildlife enthusiasts exploring the wilds of the Northern Territory. Your best chances of observing one is on a night-time wildlife tour when they emerge from their dens to hunt for food like small mammals, reptiles, insects and other invertebrates.

Patiently watch for a fleeting dash of bright tangerine coat peeking out from tree hollows or scurrying quickly across the forest floor. Seeing one of these adorable yet fierce tiny predators illuminated in your flashlight is an exciting and memorable sight. Though often overshadowed by giant crocodiles and kangaroos, the rare and elusive northern quoll is a true local treasure.

Green Tree Frog

Keep your eyes peeled in the wetlands and rainforests of the Top End for glimpses of the iconic green tree frog. Named for its vivid emerald-green skin, this frog species is found across northern Australia and is considered a quintessential Aussie amphibian. Prime areas to spot them include around Darwin and inside Kakadu National Park.

Although more often heard than seen, listen closely for their unique laughing-like mating call near the water’s edge at night and dawn. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one clinging to a reed or tree branch overhanging the water. With bulging eyes and sticky toe pads, these agile frogs are well adapted to climbing and hunting insects in their arboreal homes.

The green tree frog is likely more familiar to Australians as the mascot of a well-known beer company. But seeing one in its natural rainforest environment, camouflaged in vegetation with its signature grin, is a true delight for wildlife enthusiasts touring the Top End.

The Northern Territory is your ticket to seeing Australia’s most iconic wildlife in the flesh. From lazy lizards to giant ‘roos, this rugged region lets these awesome Aussie animals thrive just as they have for ages. A journey through the NT lets you enjoy Australia’s wildlife wonderland up close. You’ll make lifelong memories of these brilliant creatures that make Australia one of a kind. The Northern Territory awaits – it’s time to meet Aussie wildlife at its finest! Reach out to the team at Happy Travels now for more info on planning your next NT trip!

Blog written by Dakota Murphey