Wallabies are the smaller members of the macropod family ie too small to be kangaroos.
Wallabies are not a distinct biological group. Nevertheless they fall into several broad categories. Typical wallabies of the Macropus genus, like the Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis), and the Red-necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) are most closely related to the kangaroos and wallaroos and, size aside, look very similar. These are the ones most frequently seen, particularly in the southern states.
Rock wallabies (genus Petrogale), rather like the goats of the northern hemisphere, specialise in rugged terrain and have modified feet designed to grip rock with skin friction rather than dig into soil with large claws. There are at least fifteen species and the relationship between several of them is poorly understood. Several are endangered. Captive rock wallaby breeding programs like the one at Healesville Sanctuary have had some success and a small number have recently been released into the wild.
The Banded Hare-Wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus) is thought to be the last remaining member of the once-numerous subfamily Sthenurinae, and although once common across southern Australia, is now restricted to two islands off the Western Australian coast which are free of introduced predators. It is not as closely related to the other hare wallabies (genus Lagorchestes) as the hare wallabies are to the other wallabies.
New Guinea, which was until fairly recent geological times a part of mainland Australia, has at least five species of wallaby.
There are a few places around the world where wallaby escapees have formed their own colonies. Sometimes this has meant the survival of that particular type of wallaby. the Hunter Hills behind Waimate, South Canterbury, New Zealand is one such place. Another significant colony could once be found on the island of Inchconnachan in Loch Lomond in Scotland with the occasional wallaby getting to the mainland if the loch froze over. The Peak District in England is another area where wallabies can be found.