Wildlife spotting on the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is home to plenty of furry friends and lovable sea creatures. You’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable wildlife encounter at the following spots:
Kangaroos are par for the course in Anglesea
Grazing ‘roos are a standard sight for golfers on the Anglesea golf course, where around 300 resident kangaroos roam freely around the fairways. On some days it’s easier to spot them than others, as it will depend on weather and the number of people about. But you can book a 30-60 minute kangaroo tour from the clubhouse (in golf carts fitting up to 5 adults). Don’t be shy to say hello if you are just playing a round, the marsupials here are well used to human interaction and you can approach them relatively safely!
Insider tip – if you can’t make it to Anglesea, you can easily spot kangaroos at Tower Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
Koalas at Kennett River are terrible at hiding
Spotting koalas at Kennett River is like playing hide-and-seek with a two-year-old: you know exactly where they will be before you even start looking for them.
Local tour guides know pretty much which trees you’ll find koalas in at any time of day. But even if you’re doing it on your own, you’re guaranteed to spot at least one koala in the trees if you get off the Great Ocean Road at Kennett River township. Turn onto Grey River Road, then follow the road up through the bush (woodland). You can do this on foot if you like, or drive as far as you like and then find a place to park.
This is one of the most popular spots in Australia for spotting koalas (with good reason), so if it’s too busy you can backtrack. Head back through Kennett River township towards Kennett Road and Hitchcock Gully, where you might be lucky and spot a few less attention-seeking koalas.
Insider tip – if you want to see the koalas a little more active than during their daytime snoozes, visit in the late afternoon and early evening. You might catch one or two grooming themselves, chomping on leaves, or moving from tree to tree scoping out a new spot!
Watch the whales from Logans Beach
Few places in the world can boast such a majestic wildlife encounter just by walking to the beach as Logans Beach can. Just outside Warrnambool, this quiet sandy beach is home to the Victorian Southern Right Whale Nursery. Female whales return here between June and September to give birth and rear their young. Since they are still finding their fins and avoiding the open ocean, these whales will often pass within 100m of the shore! So, rather than having to book a boat tour and head out on whale-watching cruises like in many other places, you can simply spot whales from the beach, or from the specially constructed viewing platform over the dunes.
Aren’t you forgetting our furry (seal) friends?
Don’t worry – if you’re craving a fur seal fix while on the Great Ocean Road, head to Cape Bridgewater to see fur seals up close. Or visit the Southern Hemisphere’s largest colony of Australian fur seals at Lady Julia Percy Island.
National Parks and wildlife walks on the Great Ocean Road
Twisting through some of Victoria’s most pristine scenery, it should come as no surprise that the Great Ocean Road is the access point to some superb protected areas of natural beauty, gorgeous bush walks, and native wildlife refuges. Among them:
Great Otway National Park
The best known national park on the Great Ocean Road, Great Otway National Park does not disappoint with landscapes covering rugged coastal cliffs, idyllic beaches, dense temperate rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and the peaks of the Otway Ranges. Start the lengthy Great Ocean Walk from here towards the Twelve Apostles, visit the iconic Cape Otway Lighthouse, walk the 1-hour loop track up to the Triplet Falls, stroll the boardwalks through the bush at MaitsRest, enjoy a picnic at Blanket Leaf or Moggs Creek, or tackle one of the many, many other waterfall walks throughout the park.
Port Campbell National Park
Encompassing 1,750 hectares of protected nature, the Port Campbell National Park holds a lot more beyond its world-famous Twelve Apostles and other Shipwreck Cove landmarks. Walk the 1.5-hour Port Campbell Discovery Walk for amazing coastal views, wildlife watching opportunities, and clifftop views onto the sleepy settlement that gives the park its name, spot Little Penguins on the beach as they return to their nests at dusk, or camp out at Port Campbell Recreational Reserve.
Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary
Located just outside Apollo Bay near the sandy beach at Marengo, the Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary is an essential addition to any Great Ocean Road itinerary for lovers of marine life. Explore the rocky beach and the accessible parts of the inner and outer Little Henty Reef see tidal rock pools and reefs teeming with life – invertebrates, seaweed gardens, soft corals, sponge gardens, kelp forests and sea urchins are among the many species that live here. The beach is also great for families, with no end of sealife-spotting ways to entertain curious children!
Discovery Bay Coastal Park
For those planning to venture a bit further along the Great Ocean Road, the remote Discovery Bay Coastal Park offers prime camping and nature opportunities stretching up from Cape Nelson towards the border with South Australia. See long stretches of sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes and dramatic coastal cliffs, most of which you’ll likely have to yourselves, or head inland and visit the rich natural wetlands and freshwater lakes that are home to a diverse habitat of local wildlife and vegetation.