Urban safari: explore the nature of South Australia and Western Australia’s cities

Not only do Perth and Adelaide offer fantastic food and wine, but the two Australian cities provide visitors with an incredible mix of nature and wildlife in the heart of the city which is as rare as it is special.

Spot nature close to the city with a tour of Australia's renowned vineyards.

Photograph by South Australia and Western Australia
By Amanda Smith
Published 22 Apr 2023, 10:00 BST, Updated 12 May 2023, 14:49 BST

Predominantly located around the island’s coastline, Australia's cities often come with stunning beaches, premium produce and alfresco living. But in Perth and Adelaide nature is embraced, not escaped from, with wildlife and waterways even in the heart of the city. City life is a fantastic way to get acclimatised to nature before you head to the outback. So, discover all of this with an urban safari in and around the state capitals of Perth and Adelaide.


Bold Park Reserve 

Australia’s sounds are as memorable as its sights. Experience the call of a native kookaburra ‘laughing’ at dawn and dusk. Perth’s Bold Park is a large reserve where you’ll spot kookaburras, magpies, parakeets, bats and possums, among the wildflowers, native plants and lively bushland. The colourful chorus of Australian birds – parrots, galahs and cockatoos – call you outside into nature’s amphitheatres. Also consider a nocturnal tour of Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary, an hour east of the city. Here, 268 hectares of wetlands, granite outcrops, and woodlands provide a snapshot of what the Australian bush might have been like 200 years ago. The entire sanctuary is surrounded by a feral-proof fence, which excludes cats and foxes and protects many native species, some of which are declining or regionally extinct.

The Swan Canning Riverpark 

A playground for people and native animals, the Swan Canning Riverpark is a window into an inner-city river ecosystem. Home to Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, seahorses, prawns, crabs and more than 80 species of water bird, the Swan River curls through Perth and flows out into the Indian Ocean. What’s more, you can sail, kayak or even take a water bike (a cross between a boat and a bike) along its waterways. Perth will open your mind to what a city can become when it supports its surroundings, rather than destroying them. This river park is nature thriving in a metropolis. It’s where a city, its people and wildlife coexist.

Explore Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island on a safari tour of Western Australia.

Explore Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island on a safari tour of Western Australia.

Photograph by Tourism Western Australia

Rottnest Island 

From Perth to paradise in under 30 minutes. A short ferry ride will transport you to the idyllic Rottnest Island. It’s heaven for snorkellers, surfers and day-trippers. The beaches – clearer than a swimming pool – will take your breath away, while underwater snorkel trails are sure to leave you speechless. Relax in a bay for the day, snorkel and sail the island and its shipwrecks, hike or cycle around the 14-mile perimeter – you’ll want to see every corner of this island sanctuary. Quokkas, the diminutive native wallabies of Rottnest Island, will charm and re-energise even the weariest traveller. You’ll feel the deep sense of being a guest on this island, acutely aware of its ecosystem. 


Morialta Conservation Park 

Less than 15 minutes east of Adelaide’s city heart is a conversation park many people dream of having in their urban backyards. Nestled in the Adelaide Hills, Morialta Conservation Park encompasses gorges, creeks, valleys and waterfalls, with abundant, native wildlife. Wander the trail to Morialta Falls, rock climb or hike to numerous lookouts, and spot an array of native animals and vegetation unique to the bushland area, including koalas. Here, you’ll enjoy the sounds of Australia. Endangered species, like the southern brown bandicoot and the chestnut-rumped healthwren, can be found in the park. 

Waite Conservation Reserve 

In the gorgeous foothills south of Adelaide, the Waite Conservation Reserve’s walking trail offers sweeping city-to-sea views, with the serenity you get without the crowds. More than 200 species of native flora and fauna embrace your gentle, 2.5-mile trek, with towering old eucalypts offering refuge from the sapping South Australian sun. You’re likely to spot locals on your bushwalk – kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, cockatoos, reptiles and birds. Extend your hike to the six-mile circuit by continuing on to the nearby Brownhill Creek walk, where you’ll experience an even vaster array of plant life.  

Kayaking in the city 

See Adelaide from a distinctly different perspective. Take a 90-minute kayaking tour to explore the River Torrens and all its birdlife. Kayaking though Adelaide’s signature greenbelt is a unique way to explore the city while you’re enjoying the water – a non-negotiable while you’re visiting Australia. An intimate, small-group experience, this is your chance to ask questions and reflect on all the wonderful things you see. Glide along the river, peacefully attuning yourself to both Adelaide and Australia. 

Cycling among the vines 

As one of the eleven Wine Capitals of the World, you can’t visit the city without a side trip to South Australia’s renowned wine regions. Three great areas to sample from are: the Valley, the Hills and the Coast. Each region has its own signature styles and quirks but, for the most historic experience and unique landscape, take a day trip to the Barossa – one hour’s drive north of Adelaide. 

The Barossa is steeped in tradition, while flowing with crafted, award-winning wines. As many South Australians do, you can tour vineyards of all varieties in one day. Penfolds, Seppeltsfield, Yalumba, Hentley Farm await, with modern Australian eateries peppered across the region, all ready to pique your palate. Cycling the valley’s varying terrains en route to both the world-famous and more intimate cellar doors, works up a big appetite, but take the time to stop and appreciate Barossa’s rolling hills and wonderful wildlife. 

Plan your trip

Book your flights to South Australia and Western Australia with Malaysia Airlines and discover all Adelaide and Perth have to offer. Travellers can enjoy fast connections with Malaysia Airlines as well as the opportunity to break the journey with a free (excl. taxes) return flight to another destination on the Malaysian peninsula. Book before 31 March 2023 to take advantage and travel before 30 June 2023.

For more information, visit malaysiaairlines.com

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