Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published January 3rd 2015
Koalas, kangaroos and echidnas and that's just the start
Wild koalas in residential streets, who would have imagined. I had seen koalas at the zoo and at Phillip Island. I saw one in the wild near Apollo Bay but I had never thought to see them in the tree tops above people's homes. In the unique environment of Raymond Island, that's exactly how it is.
Raymond Island is a short ferry ride from Paynesville which is in the Gippsland Lakes area 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.
We turn up at the ferry terminal at Paynesville and are delighted to find pedestrians and cyclists travel for free. Since everything on Raymond Island is within walking distance we leave the car at Paynesville. The ferry is a chain drawn punt and a great experience for the children. The ride is so relaxing it's almost a shame it only takes only minutes to do the 200 metre trip.
We disembark and step into Ferry Park. Parents sit at a shaded picnic table while energetic children enjoy the playground. A large information board covered in interesting koala facts, details the 1.2 km koala trail. I take a free trail brochure from a plastic holder and we set off at a leisurely pace.
We see a kookaburra first, perched on a low branch just above our heads. Then, in the treetops above, there are sleeping koalas. In sufficient numbers to guarantee sightings, they are easily spotted. Imagine excited children running from tree to tree pointing them out. The koalas were introduced to Raymond Island in 1953 as a safeguard against extinction when 32 of them were sent from Phillip Island. There are more than 200 there now.
Around a bend someone has put out seed for the birds. Rainbow lorikeets peck about in the ground in front of us. There are some eastern rosellas there too and perched in a nearby tree, a crimson rosella. What a delight.
We round off our visit to the island with a stroll along the boardwalk. Boats and yachts are moored at the jetty and everywhere there is a rail or post to perch on, are crested terns. They number in the hundreds.
The Island is alive with wildlife; here humans and animals live together in harmony. Sightings of kangaroos and echidnas are common.
Raymond Island is a five minute ferry ride from Paynesville. Paynesville is a three and a half to four hour drive from the Melbourne CBD along the Princes Highway via Bairnsdale.
The ferry operates at regular intervals throughout the day. See the boards at the departure and arrival points for times or check the website. Pedestrians and cyclists ride for free. There is a charge for vehicles.
There is no cost for the Raymond Island Koala Trail.
Ferry Park has BBQs, picnic tables, a children's playground, public toilets, a dry creek bed garden and visitor information boards. There are no shops on the island so bring your own picnic supplies.
Further information about Raymond Island can be found at www.raymondisland.net. There are walking and cycling trails and tracks, safe swimming beaches and plenty of fishing spots.