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Published March 27th 2017
Make Koala Spotting a Fun Family Outing
When we think koalas we think cute and cuddly. Getting a look at these iconic Aussie animals are high on the wish lists of locals and overseas visitors alike. They can be seen and sometimes patted or held in Melbourne's zoos and wildlife parks but nothing beats seeing our koalas in the wild. There are a number of places around Melbourne and throughout Victoria where this is possible.
Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals. (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
Koalas spend most of their time in the tree tops nestled in the forks of trees and can sometimes be hard to spot amongst the branches. Persistence and a keen eye will get your reward. Binoculars are not necessary but you might take them along for a closer view. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. Koalas are generally thought to be quiet animals. In fact they make deep grunting sounds particularly if they are stressed or unhappy.
Aren't I cute. (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
1.Raymond Island Koala Trail. Wild koalas in residential streets, who would have imagined. In the unique environment of Raymond Island, you can find koalas in the tree tops above people's homes. A large information board at Ferry Park is covered in interesting koala facts, details the 1.2 km koala trail. Raymond Island is a short ferry ride from Paynesville which is in the Gippsland Lakes area. It is around a three and a half to four hour drive from the Melbourne CBD. It's an easy afternoon out from Lakes Entrance or Bairnsdale. Click here for further information about Raymond Island.
Look for koalas in the forks of trees. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
2.Cape Otway Lightstation. It was on Lighthouse Road heading for the Cape Otway Lightstation that I spotted my first in the wild koala. It was not hard to find. I saw it from the car as we passed. Pick a safe parking space on the road side before craning your necks to the tree tops. The Cape Otway Lightstation is in the Great Otway National Park. Travel from Melbourne on The Great Ocean Road which is recognised internationally for its spectacular scenery. Click here to download the park notes and a map. Cape Otway is around a two and three quarter hour drive from the Melbourne CBD. It is only 20 minutes from Apollo Bay.
Those claws are made to grip tree branches (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
3.Kennett River Koala Walk. This 45 minute combined drive and walk runs along Grey River Road, Kennett River. It includes a 30 minute walk in the Otway rain forest. The drive is on an unmade road. The koalas tend to rest through the day and become more active towards late afternoon. There are said to be hundreds of koalas in the Kennett River area making this a great place for sightings. Kennett River is part of the Great Otway National Park. Click here to download the park notes and a map. Click here to download the Koala Walk brochure. Kennett River is around a two hour drive from the Melbourne CBD.
Koala in eucalyptus at Kennett River, Great Otway National Park (Photo by KobiWiki (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
4.Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. As well as koalas keep an eye out for kangaroos, wallabies, emus, echidnas and a variety of birds. There are a number of walks crossing the reserve which is surrounded by picturesque Tower Hill Lake. Koala sightings are not guaranteed but with so much to see you are not likely to be disappointed with your trip. Click here to download the Visitor Guide and map. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is at 105 Lakeview Road, Tower Hill just 15kms from Warrnambool which is around a three and a quarter hour drive from the Melbourne CBD.
A mother carries her joey on her back (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
5.French Island National Park. The Island is home to a colony of around 1,500 koalas. Koalas from French Island are disease free and are often used to restock populations on the mainland. Click here for the park notes and maps. French Island can be accessed by a 10 to 15 minute ferry ride from Stony Point which is an hour and a quarter's drive from the Melbourne CBD. Ring (03) 9585 5730 for ferry details and timetables. The ferry docks at Tankerton Jetty near the Ranger Station. There are a variety of short walks and rides commencing at the Tankerton foreshore.
Koala, French Island, Victoria (Photo by Hal 1945 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
6.Warrandyte State Park. The Yarra River winds through Warrandyte State Park, the closest national park to Melbourne. Koalas are commonly seen at Pound Bend Reserve, a picnic ground with easy walks and trails. Click here to download the park notes and a map. Warrandyte State Park is around a half hour drive from the Melbourne CBD. Pound Bend Reserve is accessed from Pound Road, via Warrandyte Road, Warrandyte.
There you are. (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
7.Werribee Gorge State Park. As well as koalas the park is home to Eastern Grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, echidnas, platypus, wedge-tailed eagles and Peregrine falcons. There a number of walks available in the park but some are suitable only for the more experienced hiker so check the park notes before setting off. With over 500 million years of geological history on display the scenery in the park is amazing. Click here to download the park notes and a map. Werribee Gorge State Park is around 50 minutes from the Melbourne CBD and is 8km west of Bacchus Marsh via the Western Freeway and Pentland Hills Road to Myers Road.
Koalas get little nutrition from the eucalypt leaves that form their diet and spend large parts of the day asleep. (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
8.Coolart Historic Area and Wetlands. Look carefully as you move around Coolart throughout the day and you may spot a koala although they are not prolific here. Do not despair if you don't find a koala as there is much more to see and do here. The wetlands are rich in bird life which can be viewed from a bird hide. The easy walking tracks pass through coastal woodlands, wetland areas, lagoons and the formal gardens which surround the historic homestead. Click here to download the park notes and a map. Coolart is on Lord Somers Road, Somers on the Mornington Peninsula around an hour and a quarter's drive from the Melbourne CBD.
Koalas move across the ground as well as in the trees. (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
9.Brisbane Ranges National Park. The koalas you may sight in the Brisbane Ranges National Park are descended from stock drawn from French Island and Phillip Island in 1957 and 1977. They are more often seen in the northern section, near Reids Road. You might come across Eastern Grey Kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, possums or sugar gliders so keep your eyes peeled. Click here to download the park notes and map. The northern section of the park can be accessed by Reids Road, Balliang via Bacchus Marsh and is around and hour and a half's drive from the Melbourne CBD.
I see you (Photo in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
Koalas are only one of the reasons to visit these wonderful parks which abound with wildlife. Many are located in tourist areas and overnight accommodation is not difficult to find should you decide to make the trip a weekend getaway. The park notes detail the walking trails and facilities available. Most parks have picnic and BBQ areas and some have children's playgrounds. Some have wetlands, lakes or rivers and some have sweeping views across magnificent landscapes. For more information click on the links above or telephone the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963.