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Published May 9th 2012
Let's get one thing straight for overseas visitors to Melbourne. You are not going to see any kangaroos jumping down Bourke Street avoiding trams. You can see kangaroos in an Animal Park or zoo but it's much more exciting to come across a mob of kangaroos in the wild.
Luckily Melbourne and its environs provide plenty of opportunities to see wild kangaroos. The bad news is that finding the kangaroos can be a bit like winning Lotto and no guarantees can be given that you will spot any kangaroos at a place on any given day. The lack of certainty actually makes the experience more exciting.
We have seen wild kangaroos at many places around Melbourne and here are the places where we think there is a reasonable chance to find kangaroos:
The park is huge and totals over 700 ha in size. You may need to wander around to find the kangaroos. The last time we were here we saw over one hundred kangaroos near the Homestead but the fenced 'Back Paddock' is the best spot to see kangaroos and other wildlife.
Woodlands Historic Park provides an insight into life for the settlers in the 1840s. There is a Homestead with memorabilia and some old out-buildings to explore. Near the Homestead some of Australia's best retired racehorses can be seen at the "Living Legends" area.
Picnic tables, water, toilets and BBQs are available at the Somerton Road picnic grounds.
Woodlands Historic Park is open to vehicles daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm, extending to 6.00pm on weekends and public holidays from 1 November until the end of daylight savings. However, pedestrian access is available at all times.
The Homestead is open 7 days a week from 10am – 4pm and serves Devonshire tea and coffee.
Woodlands Historic Park is about 22km from the city and located just to the north of Melbourne Airport. To get there follow the Tullamarine Freeway from Melbourne and turn right into Oaklands Road (Melways: 177 J9) or walk from the Somerton Road Picnic Area (Melways: 178 C6).
Eastern grey kangaroos and black-tailed wallabies live throughout the Sugarloaf Reservoir Park. Take a walk from the Ridge Picnic Area to the Saddle Dam Picnic Area and there is a reasonable chance of seeing kangaroos or wallabies in the bush beside the track. The park is located on Simpson Road (via Eltham - Yarra Glen Road) in Christmas Hills (Melways: 273 A2).
Kangaroos Beside the Track at Sugarloaf Reservoir Park
There are several groups of wild kangaroos at Cardinia Reservoir Park. To maximize your chance of a successful sighting try early in the morning or late afternoon. There is a special Kangaroo Viewing Trail adjacent to the reservoir wall which has information along the trail in order to learn more about kangaroos.
Cardinia Reservoir can be accessed from Wellington Road (Melway 126 C11) or Red Hill Road (Melways: 210 G4).
Lysterfield Lake Park also has Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Black Wallabies which can be spotted on occasions. Access for Lysterfield Park is from Horswood Road (Melways: 108 D2).
Note: Feeding and approaching kangaroos are strictly prohibited at all these locations. Be sure to stay at a safe distance.
If, despite all our hints on the best spots for sightings, you fail to see any wild kangaroos, then you can pay to take an organized tour and increase your chances to practically 100 percent.
I can confirm that Sugarloaf Reservoir is a good place to spot them - especially when it hasn't rained for a few days and they want the water. You can get quite large groups of them; I found them a bit intimidating when I did the walk around the dam! Also if you happen to be driving around St Andrews in Melbourne's north-east at dusk or early in the morning, you have a reasonable chance of seeing the grey kangaroos - drive carefully, some of them are huge.
Churchill National Park is also a pretty good bet for Eastern Grey kangaroos - especially up towards the top, which has the bonus of fantastic views. I can vouch for all your other suggested places. The biggest male eastern grey I have ever seen in my life was at dusk walking around the Lysterfield Lake circuit. It was taller than me and quite scary - though impressive from a distance!
Gresswell Forest Wildlife Reserve, Greenwood Drive, Macleod VIC 3085. Go for a walk just before sunset. You might not see them straight away, make sure to take your time, walk, relax and enjoy. Chance of spotting kangaroos is nearing 100%. We've been there plenty of times, never left disappointed.