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Information Species Best place Identification Habitat Foraging Reproduction Sociality Readings
Parma Wallaby
Parma Wallabies held as a breeding colony in captivity.
Parma Wallaby habitat'
Thick Antarctic Beech habitat favoured by Parma Wallabies.
Waterfall in Parma Wallaby habitat
Waterfall in moist habitat favoured by Parma Wallabies.
Geographic distribution of the Parma Wallaby
Geographic distribution of the Parma Wallaby represented by coverage of 1:250,000 map sheets of Australia (see www.ga.gov.au for Australian maps).

General information

Kangaroos are marsupials and belong to the Family Macropodidae (i.e. big feet) that is grouped with the Potoroidae (potoroos, bettongs, rat-kangaroos) and Hypsiprymnodontidae (musky rat-kangaroo) in the Super-Family, Macropodoidea. This comprises around 50 species in Australia and a dozen or more in New Guinea.  Some of the smaller species, such as Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, Burrowing Bettongs, accompanied Pig-footed and Golden Bandicoots, Bilbies and possibly Hairy-nosed Wombats into extinction with the advent of pastoralism. However, the largest species remain in much of their original range with the grey kangaroos expanding inland as grazing habitat increased and coastal habitat was lost in clearance for agriculture. The defining feature of the kangaroo family is that they are the largest vertebrates to hop (both currently and from what we know from palaeontology).

The genus Macropus includes not only the large kangaroos but a range of mid-sized macropods known collectively at wallabies or brush wallabies. The exception is the Swamp Wallaby which is in its own genus Wallabia by virtue of its different chromosome number and other features. With the advent of agriculture and pastoralism the wallabies have fared less well than the kangaroos with most species in reduced ranges since European settlement. One species, the Toolache Wallaby (Macropus greyi) is extinct. In this pattern of range contraction, the Swamp Wallaby, is again an exception as it remains reasonably abundant in many peri-urban parks and reserves.

The Wallabies like the larger Kangaroos are predominantly grazers but may take some browse, especially the Swamp Wallaby. They share a similar body form and habits to the larger Kangaroos and are sympatric with Grey Kangaroos or the Antilopine Wallaroo in the north.



Parma Wallaby

Macropus parma


Best place to see

Allyn River Forest Park, New South Wales

Allyn River Forest Park is a recreation area in the Stat Forests of the Lower Barrington Tops about 3.5 hours drive north of Sydney. The Forest Park has picnic tables, toilets and a swimming area at Ladies Well. Parma Wallabies forage on the grassing picnic areas late in the evening and in the night. You area also likely to see Red-necked Pademelons. There is accommodation in the nearby townships such as Gloucester and camping in Barrington Tops National Park.



The Parma Wallaby shows some sexual dimorphism with males larger (averaging 5 kg to female's 4 kg) and stockier than females.  The back is predominantly grey-red with brown stripe from the nape of the neck to the mid-back. The white cheek stripe on the face is well-defined but is common to the larger Red-necked Wallaby that may be found in the same habitat. The undersides are white through to light grey with a pure white throat. The ears are short backed by red-grey fur.



The Parma Wallaby was thought to be extinct and only found in New Zealand where it was introduced along with Tammar Wallabies and Brushtail Rock-Wallabies in the mid-1880s. In 1967 it was found again in Australia at Gosford and then several other locations to the north. They prefer wet sclerophyll forest with a thick understorey of scrub or temperate rainforest but can be found in dry sclerophyll forest. They shelter in thick vegetation during the day and emerge into openings in the forest caused by tree-fall and other disturbance. Thus they are unlikely to be seen emerging onto open pasture but stay within their forested habitat.


Foraging behaviour

Predominantly grazers with some forbs (herbs) in the diet. They favour kangaroo grass Themeda australis  and other native grasses.


Reproductive behaviour

The reproductive biology of the Parma Wallaby is typical of the Brush Wallabies with a pouch life of 7 months. However, oestrus is not post-partum but more like Grey Kangaroos occurring in some individuals a week or two after birth or is mid-lactational (3-4 months later). Young are predominantly born in the first half of the year. Females mature quickly at one year of age when they weight less than 3 kg.


Social organisation

Individuals are usually solitary but females will associate with dependent young-at-foot and consort with a male around oestrus.


Further readings

Maynes GM (1973) Reproduction of the parma wallaby, Macropus parma Waterhouse. Australian Journal of Zoology 21, 331-351.

Maynes GM (1977) Distribution and aspects of the biology of the Parma Wallaby, Macropus parma, in New South Wales. Australian Journal of Wildlife Research 4, 109-125.

Read DG, Fox BJ (1991) Assessing the habitat of the parma wallaby, Macropus parma (Marsupialia:Macropodidae). Wildlife Research 18, 469-478.