Top 8 Animal Street Signs from Australia and New Zealand

The first time I went to Canada, I thought the yellow street signs with a deer picture on it, warning you that a deer might cross the road, were very cute. Coming from Indonesia, I’d never seen street sign bearing an animal picture before.

To most people, kangaroos and penguins are not everyday sights. Unless you live in Australia and New Zealand the chance to meet them in the wild is slim to none (maybe if one escapes from the zoo?) In the past few months as we’ve traveled around Australia and New Zealand, I’ve been very excited every time I see one of the exotic animal street signs. It feels like I might get a chance to spot something amazing! It’s more than just kangaroo and penguin signs, there are lots of other fascinating animal signs too. And every time I spot one I peel my eyes wide, trying to to spot one from the road as we drive. Or I might take a walk in the woods for the chance to see them in the wild. So, let me show you some of our little journeys in spotting them!

Kangaroos

A kangaroo doing midnight hop.

A kangaroo taking a midnight hop.

We’ve seen many kangaroos in zoos and animal parks, but it’s not the same as seeing them in the wild. Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck until recently. Last month we drove all the way up the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Cape Tribulation, passing through Brisbane and Cairns, and didn’t spot any except roadkill. Things got a lot livelier as we went inland and into the outback: our favourite encounter happened a few hours from Cairns, in a little town known for its caves, called Chillagoe. Here kangaroos and wallabies alike were jumping or standing all over the place, especially at the dusk and during night time. I need to emphasize here that Ryan drove very carefully and slowly, so we wouldn’t hit any (and we didn’t!) At one point, we stopped the car just to watch them hopping around in the dark. It was very difficult to get a good photo, but there must have been at least 50 of them!

Playing with rock wallabies at Granite Gorge. Do you see the baby Joey?

Playing with rock wallabies at Granite Gorge. Do you see the baby Joey?

On another occasion, we visited the Granite Gorge near Mareeba, a privately owned nature park with gorgeous river and gigantic boulders, also a wild sanctuary of rock wallabies. The rock wallabies here are not very wild anymore since they have frequent encounters with tourists. We had so much fun playing with them.

Note: Despite the cuteness of the kangaroo street signs, the danger is real. Kangaroos are plentiful in the Australian outback, and driving at night can be really dangerous. Read the driving stories from Mike and Amanda about their dangerous encounters with kangaroos.

Tree Kangaroo

I have no doubt that all of you know kangaroos. But before we visited the Atherton Tableland in Queensland, Australia, we had no idea that there’s such a creature as a tree kangaroo. Kangaroos that live in trees? Apparently they’re real! They don’t really look like a regular kangaroo, but they share similar ancestors. They are not too graceful on the ground, but they are great tree climbers and can even hop from tree to tree.

Two tree kangaroos cozying on a tree branches.

Two tree kangaroos cozy in a tree.

As we entered the forested area and saw the tree kangaroo street sign, we got excited. We thought spotting them would be very difficult since they are quite small and the trees are quite dense, but it must have been our lucky day! Near a pretty little waterfall, a group of kids asked us whether we wanted to see some tree kangaroos. Hell yeah! They led us to a nearby spot where there were a couple of them eating leaves peacefully in a tree. We watched them for about 10 minutes. They didn’t care we were there, they just enjoyed stuffing themselves with leaves. So happy to see such a rare animal in their natural habitat!

Cassowary

 

Clearly illustrating how a cassowary look like before and after a car accident. (Can you guess it's modified from a bump sign?)

Clearly illustrating how a cassowary looks before and after a car accident. (Can you guess it’s modified from a bump sign?)

Cassowary street signs are a normal sight in north Queensland, but unfortunately this big bird with its beautiful blue head and big brown crest is very shy. Even though we saw countless signs, including the one says “Cassowary recent crossing”, in the end we never even saw one! It was pretty disappointing. A few months ago, when we visited the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney, we saw some of them in captivity. I guess for now we have to be happy with that.

Crocodile

When we were in New Zealand, as we drove along the Lake Taupo, we were enchanted by the beauty of the sunset, so we made an impromptu decision to dive into the inviting water. We then sat on the beach watching the last minutes of the sunset, resulting in being eaten alive by hundreds or thousands of sandflies.

A big croc named Fat Albert.

A big croc named Fat Albert.

When you are in the north part of Australia, you should think twice (or more times) about jumping impromptu to inviting water bodies, because you might meet…. saltwater crocodiles! Going by the nickname “salties” these crocs are the largest living reptiles on earth, with males growing to 5-6 m long. In Australia, approximately 1-2 deadly salties attack on humans are reported every year. So it’s definitely best not to mess around with them. The sign we posted here was from Yorkeys Knob beach.

Since croc sightings in nature could be dangerous, we decided to seek expert help to find some. We joined Bruce Belchers’ expedition on the Daintree River. Bruce was an excellent guide, having done this for many years, and the trip was not disappointing: we spotted 7 saltwater crocodiles! They were seen sunbathing on the beach along the river, some with jaws wide open. With the intimidating length of 5 meters, a croc named”Fat Albert” was the most impressive one. Unfortunately it’s not very easy to see this magnificent size from the photo, as I failed to persuade anybody to sit beside him to get the size perspective!

Stingers/Jellyfish

 

I like the warning sign in the right picture: the stinger looks monstrous.

I like the warning sign in the right picture: the stinger looks monstrous.

Again, this sign is not actually found on the road, but typically on the beach sides. In Queensland, especially during the summer months, stingers are frequent visitor to its beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. The sting they cause could result in only localized stinging pain, or severe aches in body parts, or even death. As we were there during the winter time, the chance to encounter a jellyfish should be smaller. We indeed didn’t see them by our eyes, however Ryan got stung in his arm by a small one when we were snorkeling by Michaelmas Cay, in the Great Barrier Reef. The sting made a 10 cm long red mark in his inner elbow, and fortunately even though it caused some stinging pain for a few days, it didn’t get more dangerous than that.

Cows

 

Cows crossing

Cows crossing

Cows on the road in Australia? We were quite surprised the first time we saw that! Seeing cows in fenced fields or valleys was a pretty commonplace scene in the New Zealand. But in some parts of Queensland, apparently fences are optional! How to keep them of the road so they don’t get hit by cars? Well, we hope the cows have the right sense about it, but in fact we indeed saw some of them wandering on the road! They might rely on the fact drivers will try really hard to avoid collisions with them: they are quite massive, you will hurt not only the cow, but your car and yourself.

Penguins

I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw a street sign of penguins! I thought they only lived in the South Pole, but apparently New Zealand is also home to many kind of penguins, and sometimes they do cross the road along the coast! Of course we wanted to spot these penguins in their natural habitat. We went to a small city called Oamaru on the east coast of South Island of NZ, home to two different kind of penguins: the little blue penguins, and the yellow eyed penguins. Our yellow eyed penguins spotting was a bit painful. It was in the middle of winter time, during a long rainstorm that hit the area for days, and the observation platform was high on the top of a high cliff. Wet, very windy, and freezing cold. The first observation day was a failure, but glad we were back the next day. We spotted 2 of them down the beach. A kind penguin watcher lent us his binoculars so we had a good look of them. What a pretty creature! I love how around the eyes, the color of the skin is yellow, giving impression that they are wearing a little yellow bandit eye-mask!

Save distance to see a penguin in the wild.

Safe distance to see a penguin in the wild.

The little blue penguins were easier to spot, but with some cost. In the past, there were heavy machinery left from an old mine not far from a cliff, and a blue penguin colony used it as their home. Now the machinery is all gone, and they’ve built small houses for the penguins, who seem to love it too just like their old machinery homes. After waiting for the sun to set, the penguins come ashore in large groups. Very adorable creatures! In groups of 10 or 20 they’d wash ashore onto the rocks. With their two short legs and no flippers they’d hop and climb up the steep cliff. You’ve got to see this yourself to see how adorable they are scaling the rocks! Their color is dark blue, and they are only a foot tall. Cute and tiny. We saw them from very close, one of them even ran right between us! Unfortunately no photographs, but it was an amazing experience.

Ducks

 

Duck crossing!

Duck crossing!

 

Duck crossing! Are you serious?!

We found this 2-3 hours away to the south from Sydney. People in the neighbourhood must love ducks so much, or probably they have a rare type of duck there.

So, I hope you enjoyed the collection of  animal street signs! Which one do you like best? Tell us what unique street signs you have in your area or you’ve encounter in your travels!

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46 Responses to “Top 8 Animal Street Signs from Australia and New Zealand”

  1. Mike Liang
    29 July 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I have a picture of cow crossing taken from Germany, but can’t upload the pic here. Very interesting article…

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 9:26 pm #

      Hi Mike! Thanks for coming :) In Germany, eh. I don’t remember seeing one there. If you upload that picture somewhere, I would love to see it :D

  2. Camila
    29 July 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Haha, when I was NZ near the place I was staying there was a Ducks crossing sign…and ducks actually crossed in that exact place :)

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 9:28 pm #

      Hahhaha, that must have been quite a sight! The duck sign plus the duck rows! I like the fact that they paint several ducks, not only just one, in the street sign. Like those classic pictures of a row of ducks.

  3. Norbert
    29 July 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    These signs are really cool. It seems like they have a sign for every single animal that can walk and cross a street. I wonder how many more are there.
    .-= Norbert´s last blog ..Tsunami Blessing- The Evil Sea – Part 3 =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      Indeed! I wonder how many animals have their own street sign out there. I also saw deer sign in Canada, as well as kiwi and sheep in NZ, also horse with rider in Oz. No picture though unfortunately (I regret not taking picture of them!)

  4. Adam
    29 July 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    I love street signs! I keep a collection of them on my Flickr account. Some countries have some really strange ones, especially Australia!
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..Sleep is for the Weak =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 9:53 pm #

      Then I need to check your flickr account!!

  5. Jen
    29 July 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Awesome signs. Penguins are awesome.

    In southern California on the interstate I saw a people crossing sign. It wasn’t one that you’d see at an intersection. It was the silhouette of a lady running with a baby on her back as she held the hand of her child…creepy especially since it was about 10 min from the Mexican border.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Four Mental Health Necessities To Take On The Road =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 9:58 pm #

      What a weird crossing sign! Is it supposed to show the immigrants? Now I’m curious about the sign, did you take a picture?

  6. Eli
    29 July 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I never even heard of a tree kangaroo before! I’ve seen moose and deer crossing signs. I can’t imagine seeing a penguin crossing a street, but I’d love to see it.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 10:03 pm #

      I never heard of tree kangaroo before going there either! The street sign intrigued me since I didn’t know what was that, until we saw one of the sign that has another sign underneath, mentioning it’s a tree kangaroo area.

      You can imagine, every time we were passing penguins area, we opened our eyes so wide! We want to see them so badly :D

      I saw the deer sign too! In Canada, not far from Ryan’s parents’ house. I was actually mentioning that in the post’s first paragraph, but gt cut out when we edit it.

      I would love to see moose sign.

  7. Rebecca
    29 July 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    I love Oamaru! I paid to watch the little blue penguins roll onto shore and while it was super touristy, I still loved it. And even saw some in the parking lot when trying to leave!

    I also got really good at spotting ‘roos in Australia. Dusk is the best time, especially on golf courses!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Australia – Couches Buses =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 10:08 pm #

      I think we went to the same penguin spot in Oamaru! What time you were there? We were there at dusk after sunset, watching them coming back to the land. It was low season, in very stormy and floddy day, so there’s not many people. We took a peek underneath our campervan before we left the parking area, but we saw no penguins hiding there :D

      Golf courses to spot roos, eh, good tips! And I love imagine them playing golf, hehe..

  8. JR Riel
    29 July 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Did anyone else notice how the car was taking on more damage than the cow? I loved the before and after sign!
    .-= JR Riel´s last blog ..Journal of an Expat- Part 4 – Beating the Heat of Kaohsiungs Streets =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 10:12 pm #

      That’s what I heard! I hear even kangaroo can make damage to small cars. In the “beware” picture, indeed looks like the cow wins. But I wonder, is the cow usually get killed too.

      I love that before and after sign too! Soo funny!! I was totally amused when we passed it!

  9. Travelogged
    29 July 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    I love this post! The penguin sign is especially cute. The alligator one is scaring me a little :)
    .-= Travelogged´s last blog ..Guy Walks Across America In Under 2 Minutes =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 10:16 pm #

      Thanks :D

      The first time I see penguin crossing sign near Wellington, I was jumping up and down! Never thought there’s going to be street sign that cute!

      The crocodile sign is scary indeed. So many creeks have that sign, including the ones where we saw some people were swimming!

  10. Brooke, WhyGo Australia
    29 July 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Now I really want a rock wallaby as a pet. Thanks, Dina. ;)
    .-= Brooke, WhyGo Australia´s last blog ..Australia Travel News 07-29-2010 =-.

    • Dina
      29 July 2010 at 10:18 pm #

      Brooke, I really want rock wallabies as pet too!! I wish I smuggled some in our campervan from Granite Gorge, hahaha!! They are very cute. The face look very innocent and interactive, and the eye lashes are much longer than mine.

  11. vewe
    29 July 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    Liking this post Dina! :)
    I especially like the ‘Cassowary’, the after sign, and baby Joey is really really cute :)

  12. Jade
    30 July 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Best Post Ever! I love the tree kangaroo signs… and really wish I had seen one while we were in Australia. I’m pretty sure I saw those exact signs of the Cassowary near Daintree National Park. Too funny!
    .-= Jade´s last blog ..Don’t Panic- How to do the Great Wall of China Mutianyu by bus =-.

    • Dina
      30 July 2010 at 11:09 am #

      Awww, thank you for the compliment :D
      The tree kangaroo sign is cute, isn’t it. At first we wondered what animal was that, until we saw one sign that has another sign underneath, saying “tree kangaroo. next … km”. Actually spotting the animal was truly precious for me, didn’t thought we can find one.

      Haha, if you go to Daintree across the river (by ferry), it’s difficult to miss the sign :D It’s hilarious! Do you see any cassowary there?

  13. Earl
    30 July 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    That is an awesome post!

    Those cassowary signs are hilarious. I never saw one in the wild either while I was there.

    And I know that in the outback there are also “Wild Camel Crossing” signs as well…
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..A Moment’s Loss of Faith in Humanity =-.

    • Dina
      2 August 2010 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks Earl! Now I have to chase that wild camels and their sign! At some point… wish me luck!

  14. soultravelers3
    1 August 2010 at 5:23 am #

    These are funny! We’ve really enjoyed the new ones in Europe, Morocco and Turkey that we have discovered on our open ended world tour, but looking forward to these!
    soultravelers3´s last post…Darling Dordogne- Vacation Holiday in France

    • Dina
      2 August 2010 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks a lot! Do they have many of the animal street signs too in Europe, Morocco, and Turkey? What animal sign do they have?

  15. Suzy
    1 August 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    I love the cow/car crossing sign. This post makes me want to head to Australia and New Zealand just to see all of these animals in person along side the road.

    • Dina
      2 August 2010 at 9:34 am #

      I think it’s interesting that the car looks more damaged in than the cow in the sign! Seeing those animals crossing the road or along the side road is a lot of fun! I just wish the best for them, next time they are getting too close to the road, no vehicle will hit them.
      Thanks Suzy :)

  16. Dave
    2 August 2010 at 6:16 am #

    That’s great – I love the pictures, especially the Jellyfish “crossing” :-P

    I hope to avoid any before/after Cassowaries…
    Dave´s last post…Donate Rice In Person

    • Dina
      2 August 2010 at 9:36 am #

      Hahhaha, I love that Jellyfish sign in the right side picture. It looks like the giant jellyfish might actually climb out the water and attack people on land!

      That before and after cassowaries are hilarious. That’ my favourite street sign vandalism ever!

  17. Starlet
    4 August 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    The penguins are SO cute – and the Cassowaries After….I thought it was “Snail Crossing”…

    • Dina
      6 August 2010 at 11:22 am #

      Hey Let, thanks a lot for visiting our blog :) And now you had said it snail crossing, it does look like a snail crossing for me too!

  18. James Clark
    11 August 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Great post. I really know I am back home when I see a kangaroo sign. We also have Emu and wombat signs as well, but you can’t go past that cow roughing up the car sign.

    • Dina
      24 August 2010 at 10:15 am #

      :) Must be welcoming indeed, those kangaroo signs. I haven’t seen emu and wombat sign, I think. I really want to see wombat one. That cow beats the car sign is funny, but sad in the same time. Maybe not funny at all if we actually picture in our mind that it can happen…

  19. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
    20 November 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Hah, on that one pic it looks like a giant squid is attacking that poor guy’s leg. And never knew that Aussie cows are so big they can tip over cars :p
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World´s last post…How To Survive Long Airport Layovers

    • Dina
      11 February 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      Haha, yeah, I love the giant squid that look like going to the road and attack people there as indicated by the picture.

      About the cow, I don’t think it will look that way in such an accident. more like the car hit the cow’s legs, the cow massive body crashes on the windshield and lands between you and Jack. – Don’t try!

  20. Erin
    19 March 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    LOVE this post! One of my favorite things about traveling is discovering the interesting signs (satisfies the designer in me:). And Julio and I are dying to go to Australia!
    When you come to Costa Rica, you can add iguana signs to your collection. Ticos (Costa Ricans) go out of their way and even endanger themselves to avoid running over animals, so be prepared for sudden stops and crazy swerving!

    • Dina
      25 March 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      I would totally jump up and down if I see iguana signs! Is iguana protected there? Sounds like Ticos love iguana so much that they will swerve for a small animal.

  21. Kat
    24 March 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I live in the Atherton Tablelands and to see a tree kangaroo is quite rare, unless you’re actively searching for them. Sometimes someone at the local markets will have a tame tree kangaroo they’ve rescued in the wild. Not very often but it does happens. Granite Gorge is the most amazing place. The place stretches out for kms, rocks are all gigantic and it’s a good place for a hike. The wallabies are quite tame and sometimes they sell pellets to feed the wallabies with. If you ever want to see a kangaroo go to Mareeba golf course. You can always see heaps of kangaroos there. Always. There are some platypus signs at at Petersons Creek in Yungaburra but platypus are extremely shy so it’s rare to see them. I’ve never seen a cassowary in all my years of living here. People I know have seen them so they are there though. Although the animal signs don’t guarantee there will be those animals there they’re a nice feature to the road and I’m glad they’re there.

    • Dina
      25 March 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      It’s great to get a local’s feedback!
      We should consider lucky to see 2 tree kangaroos then, they were beside one of the falls. We love Granite Gorge, we did the hike on the rocks, it felt cool to be surrounded by gigantic boulders. We also fed the wallabies with the pellets, those little cute things are so eager to be fed. We saw a platypus there! We were really quite behind the fence, and really enjoying watching it playing around in the water! Cassowary is the only thing we couldn’t find from the street signs. So it’s quite rare sight, eh!

  22. Steph
    29 May 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Brilliant post. I love the cassowary before and after signs. :)

  23. I Hart Travel
    24 October 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Great posts! I actually think that the pedestrian crossing signs in QLD and NSW are funny too. The sign makes it look like you have to be a well-dressed person to cross the street.
    I Hart Travel´s last post…Pont Alexandre III Bridge Paris

  24. Kristy
    7 January 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Great article guys! I found it very funny, especially the modified sign with the Cassowary. The only problem for those big chickens is that in Oz they have been decimated by cars and, as a result, they are strongly endangered…

  25. Kate Dircksen
    20 November 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Do you know which snake stands out as the longest?

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