While planning our trip to Queensland, kangaroo beach experience at Cape Hillsborough was on top of my ‚must see‘ list. Simply because I really wanted to be there and take photos of kangaroos and wallabies at the beach in the beautiful peaceful morning light. A postcard from Australia, a photographers dream, am I right?
But being there on the spot left me with a feeling that I was cheated. Why? Let me share with you some thoughts from our visit with a goal to help you plan yours.
Fact 1- Kangaroo Beach is a pure tourist attraction
But before I start, let me tell you, that I’m going to talk only about the kangaroo beach experience at Cape Hillsborough and not the Cape Hillsborough National Park itself, which is gorgeous and is worth visiting at any time!
While doing the research for the visit I have read plenty of controversial opinions, some saying that ‘they loved it’ some saying that it wasn’t what they were hoping for. But since I was dreaming of going there I decided to see it for myself.
Cape Hillsborough’s beaches were indeed visited by kangaroos during sunrise times, but it was 30-40 years ago before people moved in. Nowadays all the roos and wallabies you see live on the premises of the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park and rest there during the day. They are not wild and are not living in their original habitat. In other words CH Nature Tourist Park is pretty monopolist in terms of kangaroos, turning the animals’ into zoo exhibits. At the check-in you will get a ‘do’s and don’t’s list for your kangaroos experience.
Fact 2 - you have to pay for your visit
For meeting the sunrise with animals you have to stay close to the beach and you can only do so if you stay at the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park, meaning you have to indirectly pay for your visit. The other option is that you stay somewhere else and come during the night to meet the sunrise at the beach, but I wouldn't recommend to drive those roads in the dark. The campground and the premises of the Tourist Park are ok, but in the other circumstance you would choose something else. It’s quite pricey for the service as well. We stayed at the park though.
There is another option of staying overnight in the area – Smalleys Beach Camping, but it’s located on the other beach and it's a long walk to the kangaroos from there. It is way cheaper and nicer than the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park, but the parking spaces are very limited.
Fact 3 - Kangaroos are being fed.
After people moved in in the area kangaroos stopped coming to the beach. But it was too good opportunity to miss, so the owners of the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park started feeding them. Now they have a special person who takes care of the animals and gives feeds them. For the 'beach show' the food is distributed along the ground to keep animals at the beach.
Fact 4. There are more people that kangaroos on the beach.
Even though the photos look peaceful and uninhabited, there were literally crowds on the beach with us. There were about 5 people for 1 kangaroo or wallaby. Some were almost hugging animals for a ‘great selfie’, which I found very disturbing.
To sum it all up. It was not the experience I was hoping for. It felt like having an organized photoshooting where instead of models you had roos who had nothing to say.
I don't want to sound dramatic here and it's up to you to decide whether to go or not.