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(This post was about the best time to see kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough was updated in March 2019)


I am sure everyone in Australia and abroad has seen stunning images of kangaroos on a beautiful beach at dawn. If you are a nature lover and/or a keen photographer and would like to have the opportunity to take your own photographs (or simply enjoy the experience of seeing kangaroos and wallabies in a beautiful setting) the place you need to go is Cape Hillsborough National Park in Queensland


Situated only 50 km north of Mackay,  Cape Hillsborough offers visitors wonderful wildlife experiences and also the opportunity to explore forests, beaches and volcanic headlands. Cape Hillsborough was named by explorer James Cook in 1770. Before European settlement the Yuibera Aboriginal people lived in the area for thousands of years.


Cape Hillsborough offers visits the opportunity to explore and experience the natural beauty of the Mackay region and is a worthwhile addition to any Queensland itinerary.


If you are planning a trip to Cape Hillsborough to see the kangaroos and wallabies my guide will help you make the most of your visit. Your questions answered.


Are the Cape Hillsborough kangaroos and wallabies wild?

Can I get close to the wildlife at Cape Hillsborough?

What time do I need to be at the beach? (Which beach? Where?)

What do I need to take with me to the beach?

What facilities are there at Cape Hillsborough?

What are the accommodation options at Cape Hillsborough?

YouTube video of Cape Hillsborough

Key links and websites



The kangaroos and wallabies come down onto the beach to feed at dawn off the seed pods that have been washed onto the shore and then hop off just after sunrise to chill out for the rest of the day.


Whilst the majority of the animals  are wild there there are a couple of hand-reared  kangaroos who also hop down to the beach for their breakfast.




You can get quite close to the animals though I would be wary of going too close as these are after all WILD animals.


Do not stand between a kangaroo and the back of the beach. I inadvertently did this and was asked to move. It is important not to make the animals feel trapped and cut off their escape route. If the animals feel uncomfortable they need to be able to leave freely.


A sign giving instructions about seeing kangaroos and wallabies at Cape Hillsborough in Queensland Australia and how to keep safe | The Best Time to See Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time

It also should go without saying – DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!


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Early….and I mean early!


You need to be on the beach at sunrise if not a few minutes before. If you arrive too late all you will see is an empty beach with not a kangaroo in sight.


There is only ONE beach at Cape Hillsborough and if you follow the road to the end you will arrive at it. I have had some e mails from readers concerned that they won’t find the beach but you really can’t go wrong. The main thing is to be early – if you are late you will miss them!


If you are driving through the park to the beach be careful as kangaroos are active at dawn. It is entirely possible that they could jump across the road in front of you.




Do not forget your camera or phone to take some video.


If you are visiting during the cooler months wrap up warmly as it can be really chilly on the beach before the sun rises.


Also bring a hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellant (after being chased down the beach by the biggest scariest insect last time I was there I really would strongly advise insect repellant!)


Collage of photo of kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough



There are a number of areas to park your car near the beach. The parking is free.


There are picnic benches near the parking areas.


Toilets are also available near to the beach.


TIP – Why not take a picnic with you and enjoy breakfast at one of the picnic benches once the kangaroos and wallabies have left?




Once the kangaroos and wallabies have left the beach you may be wondering what else there is to do at Cape Hillsborough.


  • Visit the Diversity Boardwalk (1.2 km return/grade easy) and Yuibera plant trail (1.2 km return/grade easy) to learn about the Yuibera people who have lived in the area for thousands of years.


  • Go for a walk along one of the many hiking tracks – as above plus Beachcomber Cove Track (2.2 km return/grade moderate)



  • Look out for other wildlife in the area. We were lucky to see a huge stag on one occasion as we drove through the park.


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If you are staying in Mackay it is a 30 minute drive to the beach.

I would recommend staying in the park if possible as it is much easier getting up early in the morning if you are a few minutes walk or drive away (especially in winter).


On our most recent visit to Cape Hillsborough we managed to find an Airbnb about 5 minutes drive away from the beach. It made it so much easier to get there before sunrise and we were probably the only people on the beach for the first 10 minutes!




Camping is available at Cape Hillsborough – check the links at the bottom of the page for further info.


There are cabins available near the beach. Please be aware that accommodation gets booked up in advance – months in advance especially during the summer and school holidays.

For more information about accommodation options click the link below. 










  • Pets are not permitted in the park.



  • If you are planning to swim in the ocean you will need a stinger suit.




I have lots of posts all about visiting Australia and a number of these are focussed on the beautiful state of Queensland. With an enviable climate, wonderful wildlife, stunning beaches if Queensland is your destination these posts will help you get the best of your visit! If you are seeking some inspiration these 15 photographs will have you booking the next flight!


  • My ultimate guide to Australia has links to every post I have written about Australia and is great starting point when planning your visit.






  • Click here if you are interested in learning more about the 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.



PIN FOR LATER – A guide to seeing the Cape Hillsborough kangaroos

Photograph of a kangaroo on a beach in Cape Hillsborough Queensland Australia | The Best Time to See Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time Photograph of a kangaroo on a beach in Cape Hillsborough Queensland Australia | The Best Time to See Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos featured by top international travel blog, Tracy's Travels in Time




Top 10 things to do in Mackay Queensland

What you need to know about finding platypus in Eungella National Park

101 Things to Know When Visiting Australia



Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

128 thoughts on “A guide to the best time to see Cape Hillsborough kangaroos

  1. wiola says:

    Gorgeous place to see kangaroos with the ocean in the back~ ๐Ÿ˜‰ Awesome! We haven’t seen these creatures here, but we had a similar experience in Lucky Bay, next to Esperance in Le Grand NP! Kangaroos go to the beach to chill ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s very picturesque too!

  2. Ada says:

    AH you have no idea how much I wanna go to Australia and see those wonderful Kangaroos! They are so beautiful and cute! I am glad to find this blog post before I went, now it will help me to plan my trip! Your photos are stunning!

  3. Lance says:

    What an absolutely fun experience. My kids would love this. Your pictures are amazing. Cannot wait to put this on our bucket list.

  4. Danila Caputo says:

    Australia is so high on our bucket list! I knew kangaroos don’t like it when people get too close but I love the fact that going to the beach early will allow you some (mostly) alone time with them!

  5. Laurence says:

    Nice! Thanks for sharing this post to when the best time to see Kangaroos. Nice post with the Kangaroo, that’s so cool! So they’re not scared of people?

  6. Liana Moore says:

    Wow, beautiful photos! I’ve never been to Australia but would love to. And even more would love to see a kangaroo in its natural habitat. Nature & wildlife are great. #FlyAwayFriday

  7. Gabby says:

    This is so cool! I never knew kangaroos lived so close to the beach and even visited the beach, just brilliant! Maybe a dumb question but… what are they eating? Seaweed I guess?

  8. Medha Verma says:

    Wow these are definitely fantastic shots of the sunrise with the kangaroos on the beach! I’m not usually an early morning person, but to get these pictures, i’d be more than happy to wake up really early and watch the kangaroos. I haven’t been to Australia yet but I do plan to go there early 2019 and hopefully I’ll get to see such great sights! Thanks for the tips and recommendations.

  9. Dada says:

    Ahh that I didnt stumbled upon your post much earlierโ€ฆlike in 2014! I would definitely wake up before the sun to catch a perfect shot of the kangaroos at the Cape Hillsborough! So unique experience! We are going back to Australia for sure and trust me I will get that shot!

  10. Neha says:

    I love the pictures you have captured a lot. I am yet to see a Kangaroo can you believe. The kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough are such amazing experience to visit.I have noted the details for my future travel . Sunrise with kangaroos is a great idea.

  11. Jen says:

    I had no idea that you could find kangaroos and wallabies by the beach. That is so interesting! I have only seen a few from the zoo. To see them out in the wild is incredible! Iโ€™m not an early riser but I will wake up before dawn just to see this. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your sunrise photos with the kangaroo or wallaby is amazing! But, I have no idea how you were able to take a photo with a kangaroo in a very close range. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Rachel says:

    The video turned out great! It must be brilliant to see such cool animals in the wild, and I’m glad to hear there are decent protections around not disturbing them etc. People these days… The sunrise looks stunning, too. I am not a morning person but I think even I would make an exception for this!

  13. Michelle says:

    What an incredible experience. I just love seeing animals in their native habitat. I love that you remind your readers that this is the kangaroo’s beach, and we are just visitors. Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. Sara says:

    I’m not going to lie – this is soooo cool to me!! Those pictures with the early morning light and water reflections are STUNNING. Just love the silhouette effect. My friend’s little brother got kicked by a wallaby so they definitely are no joke. I’d love to see these animals in their habitat though!

  15. Lillian Small says:

    Beautiful pictures. It reminds me of the time I spent in Australia over 10 years ago. I visited a kangaroo sanctuary in Alice Springs… and saw the most adorable baby kangaroos. Great guide!

  16. Sarah says:

    Wow – I guess I don’t know a lot about kangaroos but I didn’t even know they lived around beaches? I though they were more inland animals. But… talk about an amazing photo op! Those first photos you have of the sunrise with the lone kangaroo and her reflection on the beach is pretty incredible!

  17. Esther says:

    OMG! We went there as well and so SOOO many kangaroos and walibees, I absolutely LOVED it. Thanks for sharing, it brings back memories.

  18. Unta says:

    Kangaroos on the beach, that’s probably the best beach in the world! I’ve seen them only in the ZOO. ๐Ÿ™
    Australia has some dangerous animals, but it doesn’t matter because it has cutest too.

  19. Bernie says:

    Beautiful pics and great advice. I like the thought of a breakfast picnic there, all full of excitement after seeing the roos. I hadn’t thought about leaving the escape route for them too; that’s really helpful information. I’ve only ever seen kangaroos in the wild in Adelaide, and there they were, rather unexpectedly, browsing by the side of the dual carriageway leading to the business park.

  20. Lyne says:

    If I ever visit Australia I’d absolutely love to do that,seeing kangas is on my bucket list but seeing kangas on a beach would be double win, I had never heard of this before.

  21. Sylvie Anne Hanes says:

    This post made me smile! I love kangas and got a chance to finally see some in real life during our Australian cruise. What beautiful pictures you have shared – the ones at sunrise are spectacular. Thanks for sharing

  22. YUKTI says:

    You have provided a great guide on how to spot a kangaroo in Australia. Kangaroos are my favorite animal and they look so lovely and rare species. When I was living in Melbourne and was going towards Puffy Billy side, we saw one kangaroo just crossed the road. What a splendid sight for me but then it got hid somewhere. As you have provided all details and watching them closely, next time, I will take care of all details. Watching kangaroo on beach with a early start of day is really a beautiful start of day. I will now go early to watch these lovely species.

  23. Mimi & Mitch says:

    We are in love with our shot of the sunrise and the Kangaroo! It is so cute they just come hand at the beach too, didn’t know they would wander around there! Wouldn’t get too close of them if they are big though! Would love to visit Cape Hillsborough, it looks fantastic.

  24. Iulia says:

    This is sooo nice ๐Ÿ™‚ And, despite being wild, the kangaroos look very friendly ๐Ÿ™‚ I assume that, at some point, they get used to the people that arrive each morning. You have taken some great photos – I am sure it was an extraordinary experience. And, on top of getting to see kangaroos, you also managed to catch a breath-taking sunrise ๐Ÿ˜‰ I feel sorry, though, for the dead kangaroos – I was not aware that there were so many ๐Ÿ™

  25. Ruth says:

    This is so adorable! I would like to see kangaroos on the will but I think it is extra cool to see them at the beach. That is not something you see from where I come from. #feetdotravel

  26. Anna says:

    Wow! These pictures are amazing! And I can’t believe how close you guys got to the kangaroo. I would have been so nervous. This looks totally worth it to get up early for! How amazing to see wild kangaroos just doing their thing.

  27. Matthew says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips on how to experience seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat and how to interact with them properly. Australia has been on my list for so long…hopefully I can make that happen and share in this same experience ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Deborah Regen says:

    I am glad to see that the wildlife authorities have signs near these beaches to remind people to respect these beautiful wild animals and to keep at a distance. I hope that everyone abides by these common sense rules. Not being from Australia I did not know that any kangaroos venture out onto the beach shores. That is so interesting! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  29. Emese says:

    Great post and beautiful photos! I’ve only seen kangaroos in a zoo in Australia, though we were able to get close enough to pet one. They are so much softer than I expected! To see them wild would be a dream. Maybe next time…. Love your photos! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  30. Anisa says:

    The kangaroo is such a neat animal. I remember one of the highlights from my trip to Australia was my coffee with the kangaroos. I thinking seeing them on a beach like this may be even better. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  31. Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields says:

    I never get tired of seeing kangaroos in the wild. We have kangaroos and wallabies which visit us every evening. They eat the grass in our back yard. Remarkably we live in Sydney – though we are next to a national park. Even so when we travel in Australia we still seek out places to see them. I wish I had known about Cape Hillsborough last time we were in Mackay.

    • TracyJane says:

      We were at our friends in Melbourne and saw them every night in front of the house – such a lovely thing to see! Next time you are in Mackay you can visit Cape Hillsborough ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Deeptha says:

    Fabulous photos, Tracy. Looks like a wonderful place to visit and spotting kangaroos on a beach is so different from spotting them elsewhere. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  33. Anda says:

    Ah, Tracy, your pictures are absolutely fantastic! I’ve never seen kangaroos in the wild. No matter how cute these animals are however, it’s always good to keep a distance from the wildlife. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • TracyJane says:

      Thank-you Jill – it is pretty special seeing something like this. Hope you get the chance to come to Australia so you can see them for yourself – magical experience!

  34. Urska | sliva says:

    Awesome! Too bad, I didn’t come across articles like this before going to Australia. I was so eager to see them every day, all day, haha. Anyway manage to saw then a couple of times, not at the sunrise but mostly just before the sunset.

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  36. Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) says:

    This is fantastic! We SO want to do this – and we will take your advice to stay nearby. Another great To Do for our ever-growing Australian Bucket List. Great photos, btw. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard and #WeekendWanderlust!

  37. Barry says:

    Nice one Tracy – I don’t think I will ever get bored of seeing Kangaroos. I’m living in Tassie at the moment and you tend to see more wallabies here.

  38. Travel Lexx says:

    I love how close you guys were able to get to them and we had similar experiences in the outback. I love kangaroos and getting so close to them (especially on a beach) would be incredible!

  39. Kana says:

    Oh my goodness, YES PLEASE! My dream is to see kangaroos and this place seems to be perfect for it! Love your photos!!! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo

  40. Angie FeetDoTravel says:

    I never became bored of seeing kangaroos when I lived in Australia, sadly I never made it here but I wish I had! We intend to return to Oz so I’ve pinned for when I do, I definitely want to check this out, thanks for bringing it to my attention. #feetdotravel

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