Broome’s Native Wildlife – Kangaroos, Wallabies and More
Kangaroos are powerful wild animals that must be approached with caution and respect. If they feel their young are threatened, they can become extremely aggressive and even attack!
Wallabies are smaller versions of kangaroos that belong to another animal group (Macropodidae). Their shorter legs make them agile, and they live in forests or woodland areas.
As sunset approaches and you encounter a kangaroo on the beach at dusk, chances are it belongs to one of over 50 species in the Macropodidae family of kangaroos (red and grey kangaroos that inhabit Australia savannas; tree kangaroos living high up rainforest canopies; musky rat-kangaroos that traverse rugged escarpments); etc.
As their names imply, kangaroos’ legs are designed for speed. Their tails may even be prehensile to help support themselves around branches when necessary. Size can also provide a good indicator: typically larger animals like kangaroos tend to outnumber wallabies in terms of species diversity.
Does of kangaroos give birth to small, underdeveloped infants known as joeys that remain attached to their mothers for months until it’s time for them to venture off on their own. Weeks prior, however, they begin peeking their heads out to observe their environment.
Kangaroos live in social groups known as mobs, courts or troops and communicate using scent, eye contact, avoidance hops, jabbing and boxing to communicate their needs and wants. Researchers are exploring their complex communication behaviors including gentle touches and grooming behaviors to better understand them.
Roebuck Bay’s kangaroos have developed an intimate relationship with humans; not only do they provide food and shelter, they serve as key pollinators and seed dispersers of native plants in Roebuck Bay. Visitors should remember, however, that kangaroos are wild animals which may become aggressive if provoked.
Kangaroos tend to avoid humans when approached, yet can become aggressive if threatened or startled. When encountering kangaroos, keep your distance, avoid feeding them, and always have your dogs leashed – these measures should keep all parties involved safe from potential conflict.
Broome’s native bird population is both diverse and abundant–ranging from predatory raptors to beautiful shore birds. To gain more insight, visit the Broome Bird Observatory where staff have an in-depth knowledge of local species that will lead you on an exploration. In particular, they’re known for pointing out all sorts of hidden treasures around Roebuck Bay each year, like Gouldian finches which migrate through there each winter!
Roebuck Bay provides an idyllic environment to experience Australia’s iconic wildlife. Kangaroos and wallabies, in particular those roaming free around Broome’s bushland, and can frequently be spotted at dusk on Cable Beach. If an injured kangaroo is encountered please call Broome Vet Clinic or Kimberley Wildlife Rehabilitation inc as these species require specialist care. Additionally, Nyamba Buru Yawuru are exploring creating an all-native predator-free wildlife sanctuary on their traditional land around Broome; making them both pioneering Northern Australian initiatives with regard to native organisations leading and representing them both.
Broome’s birdlife is outstanding. The bay’s tranquil shoreline hosts an abundant population of both endemic and native birds, as well as being an important stop along migratory routes such as East Asian-Australian Flyway. Additionally, Barred and Willie Creeks’ protected mangroves teem with bird life that includes waders, raptors and unique waterbirds such as Kimberley Lemonbellied Flycatchers.
Snub fin dolphins are another must-see marine mammal, and it is easy to get close up with these slow-moving beauties in Roebuck Bay. Nicknamed ‘snubbies,” these rare dolphins sport distinctive round noses and always appear happy – it seems they never stop smiling!
Look out for wildflowers and exotic eucalyptus trees like the bodhi and boab; in addition, file snakes, pythons and colubrids may also be found throughout this region.
Salt water crocodiles can often be seen during the wet season in coastal waters and creeks near Broome and occasionally on Cable Beach beachfront. Always treat them with respect as wild animals and give them space.
Keep a sharp lookout for other reptiles such as lizards, geckos and snake-eating spiders; Broome’s dry savannah landscape also serves as home to 23 different venomous land snake species.
Broome is known for its 300 species of birds that inhabit its tidal mudflats, sandy beaches and mangroves – you’ll find both shore and waterbirds around Roebuck Bay, with dolphins (known as “snubbies”) often providing added entertainment! Birdwatchers can stay at one of several self-contained chalets, donga bedrooms or unpowered camp sites at the Broome Bird Observatory near Roebuck Bay; an unpowered camp kitchen provides communal meals each evening while observation are compiled into an evening ‘bird call’ where all observations are collected for compilation each night! Remember to pay your Twitchers Tax (50c per bird seen!).
Roebuck Bay is a Wetland of International Importance recognized by RAMSAR and home to millions of waders or shorebirds traveling between their breeding grounds in Asia and Western Australia. These species feed off of its rich intertidal mudflats at low tide before returning at high tide for restful roosts on its beaches at high tide. Tours can be organized through Broome Bird Observatory.
Yawuru Country Managers at Roebuck Plains have discovered an important sighting of spectacled hare wallabies – which had been thought extinct since foxes were introduced into their region a decade earlier – at Roebuck Plains. While this discovery is welcomed news for this vulnerable wildlife species, more should be done to ensure its long-term survival.
The Yawuru people aim to establish a fenced, predator-free wildlife sanctuary on their country – this would mark an unprecedented accomplishment both within northern Australia and internationally, being led by an Indigenous organization.
Owing to a lease grant by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions to Native Animal Rescue Broome, sick and injured marine turtles may soon have access to a purpose-built rehabilitation centre in Broome. Currently housed temporarily at temporary facilities, Native Animal Rescue needs permanent housing to meet the high standard of care needed for such species. The McGowan government values this critical work of these groups and is proud of their support; furthermore the new facility will co-locate with another local volunteer organisation, Kimberley Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc.
Whales & Dolphins
Broome offers an unspoiled coastline bounded by the clear aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean and Roebuck Bay’s creeks and mangroves that provides sanctuary to an impressive diversity of wildlife, from kangaroos and snub fin dolphins, salt water crocodiles, salt-water crocodiles, unique reptiles and amphibians and much more – truly unmissable on any visit in Australia!
Broome’s most notable native animals include whales and dolphins that frequent its beaches and oceans. The Kimberley is home to the world’s largest humpback whale nursery, where thousands of these gigantic creatures come each year to breed, build up their blubber, and return southwards before leaving again in search of Antarctica. You might also spot bottlenose dolphins, pygmy killer whales pilot whales or even snub fin dolphins while exploring Broome.
Humans have had a detrimental effect on marine animals and their environments for many reasons, from hunting them for food and bait, to slaughtering for sport killing. This has resulted in significant population decreases among many species around the globe; thanks to Australian Government passing Whale Protection Act in 1980 it now illegal to kill, capture or interfere with these marine animals in Australian waters.
Rowley Shoals Marine Park boasts one of the world’s most spectacular and diverse reefs with over 233 coral varieties and 688 fish species – as well as being an excellent place for marine mammal observation! Snorkelling or diving here can bring the chance of seeing dugongs, sea turtles, rays, or sharks among many other amazing marine animals!
Yawuru, the indigenous land owners of Broome region are investigating opportunities to establish a fenced feral predator-free wildlife haven on their land – the first such refuge in northern Australia run by an Indigenous organisation and which would provide both ecological and financial benefits for local rangers aspiring to conservation management careers. As well as ecological benefits, this project could generate income via cultural tours or spotlighting tours as well as high-end visitor accommodation as well as provide career pathways in conservation management for young local people aspiring to become rangers themselves.