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When you’re visiting Australia, don’t be alarmed if you hear a cackling sound coming from the trees. That would be the laughing kookaburra, the most common type of kookaburra in Australia. Kookaburras are found throughout eastern Australia — from the tip of Cape York, in Queensland, to the tip of Victoria’s Wilsons Promontory, you will find this funny native Australian bird. Here are the best places to visit to see kookaburras, both in the wild and in zoos.
There are several national parks across New South Wales where you can spot the laughing kookaburra. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s website has a comprehensive guide to kookaburra hot spots. Look up along the Great North walk in Berowra Valley National Park; Blue Gum Hills Regional Park has a lot of opportunities to spot the kookaburra; and go bird watching in Cattai National Park, Mount Kaputar National Park, or Murrumbidgee Valley Regional Park.
The laughing kookaburra is actually the largest bird in the kingfisher family. There are both laughing and blue-winged kookaburras calling Australia Zoo home. Tok is a 17-year-old laughing kookaburra who has a very important job at the zoo: He keeps other kookaburras out of Australia Zoo’s Crocoseum. Kookaburras stay in the same territory year round, so the Crocoseum is classified as his territory.
Magnetic Island is not only a top spot to see koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies in the wild. There are also plenty of kookaburras residing on the island. Because half of the island is protected as Magnetic Island National Park, there are plenty of big trees for kookaburras to call their own (they are very picky when choosing their home). On Magnetic Island, visitors will spot both laughing and blue-winged kookaburras since the latter is found primarily in coastal north Australia.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is one of Australia’s best privately owned wildlife parks. Located in Greater Western Sydney, it’s the perfect place to spend the day when visiting Sydney. Not only will you get the chance to see laughing kookaburras, but Featherdale Wildlife Park is home to a lot of other bird species and native animals too. This includes kangaroos, koalas, quolls, tasmanian devils, bilbies, and wombats.
Established in 1948 by Australia’s first naturalist, Eric Worrell, the Australian Reptile Park is now one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. At the Australian Reptile Park, you can hand feed kangaroos, walk alongside a Galapagos tortoise, and see a crocodile feeding. You can also see both the blue-winged and laughing kookaburra as well.
Laughing kookaburras were actually introduced to Kangaroo Island. They can be found in the island’s open woodlands; they like trees with hollows for nesting. Raptor Domain on Kangaroo Island is an education and rehabilitation centre, caring for orphaned birds of prey. They look after Banjo and Clancy, who are laughing kookaburras, and Mike and Mal, the blue-winged kookaburras.
From 1906, laughing kookaburras were introduced to Tasmania to try and decrease snake numbers. These small but mighty birds are indeed meat eaters, feeding on everything from venomous snakes to lizards to mice. You will find them in many national parks, forest reserves, and conservation areas in northern and eastern Tasmania. This includes Freycinet National Park, Ben Lomond National Park, and Mount William National Park.
The many townships along the Great Ocean Road are home to some of the best native wildlife viewing in Australia. Apollo Bay is a must-visit location for spotting laughing kookaburras. You could also stay at Kookaburra Cottages, which has beachfront accommodation on a 260-acre Shetland pony farm. Kennett River and Lavers Hill are also popular bird-watching locations on the Great Ocean Road. Kookaburras are regularly spotted on the Great Ocean Walk too.
Located in Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is one of Sydney’s most popular tourist attractions. The zoo cares for animals through conservation, its wildlife hospital, Australian and global breeding programs, and education. It is home to many native animals, including the laughing kookaburra.