Aus­tralian Walks: Great Ocean wildlife walks

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s great­est wildlife won­ders. Vis­i­tors can break up the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar coastal drive by em­brac­ing the lush green­ery and get­ting up close and per­sonal with the thriv­ing flora, fauna and habi­tat the re­gion has to of­fer on one of many wildlife walks.

The Great Ocean Walk is the mother of all na­ture walks. It may be taken in as a short 2km walk or multi-day ad­ven­ture, show­cas­ing a ‘mild to wild’ jour­ney as its re­mote­ness and rugged­ness in­creases fur­ther to­wards the 12 Apos­tles.

Stretch­ing from the sea­side vil­lage of Apollo Bay west to the 12 Apos­tles, the Great Ocean Walk passes along a dra­matic coast­line of soar­ing cliffs and re­mote beaches, with tan­gents ex­plor­ing giant eu­ca­lypt forests full of kan­ga­roos, wal­la­bies and koalas, and me­an­der­ing es­tu­ar­ies brim­ming with birdlife.

Tower Hill Wildlife Re­serve

De­clared Vic­to­ria’s first Na­tional Park in 1892, Tower Hill Wildlife Re­serve of­fers vis­i­tors a nat­u­rally di­verse ex­pe­ri­ence of the Aus­tralian bush where some of the coun­try’s most iconic na­tive birds and an­i­mals in­clud­ing emus, koalas, kan­ga­roos, wal­la­bies, echid­nas, black swans, wedge-tail ea­gles, mag­pie geese and sea­sonal rep­tiles roam freely.

Vis­i­tors can take one of five self-guid- ed walks and learn about the Abo­rig­i­nal Her­itage of the area at the Worn Gun­didj Vis­i­tor Cen­tre. The lush land­scape and thriv­ing wildlife of this re­serve sits in­side an ex­tinct vol­cano formed some 30,000 years ago.

Great Ot­way Na­tional Park

Vis­i­tors can im­merse them­selves in some of Aus­tralia’s best rain­for­est scenery in the Great Ot­way Na­tional Park, walk­ing through tall trees, an­cient plant life and lush ferns.

Walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest or ex­pe­ri­ence the full beauty of the rain­for­est with Ot­way Fly Tree­top Ad­ven­tures, of­fer­ing a breath-tak­ing birds-eye view of the rain­for­est on the Tree­top Walk or soar­ing through the leafy tree­tops on the Zi­pline Tour.

Ex­pected to open in De­cem­ber 2018, ‘Wildlife Won­ders’ at the Con­ser­va­tion Ecol­ogy Cen­tre will of­fer vis­i­tors to the Great Ocean Road un­sur­passed op­por­tu­ni­ties to ob­serve and pho­to­graph the iconic an­i­mals of the area in a nat­u­ral,

preda­tor-free set­ting.

Ac­com­pa­nied by a qual­i­fied con­ser­va­tion­ist guide, vis­i­tors will be able to see koalas doze in the tree­tops, po­toroos and bandi­coots for­age on the ferny for­est floors and kan­ga­roos hop along the horizon against a spec­tac­u­lar ocean vista.

The ex­pe­ri­ence will be de­signed and cre­ated by Brian Massey, who was the Greens Mas­ter for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ tril­ogy, Art Di­rec­tor of ‘The Hob­bit’ and land­scape de­signer of the highly suc­cess­ful ‘Hob­biton’ in New Zealand.

Torquay to Lorne

Those not will­ing to leave the scenic coast can take on the whole 66 kilo­me­tres or choose a sec­tion of the Surf Coast Walk that runs from Torquay to Lorne.

Ac­com­pa­nied by the rich ochre cliffs of Bells Beach and coastal forests of leafy green eu­ca­lypts, as well as the deep blue wa­ters of Bass Strait - its a walk that is def­i­nitely about the colour­ful jour­ney.

Great South West Walk

Vis­i­tors with time on their side can tra­verse the en­tire Great South West Walk which takes 12 full days with plenty of great dis­trac­tions along the way.

The lime­stone gal­leries of the Princess Margaret Rose Cave, the stun­ning dis­plays of spring wild­flow­ers along the Glenelg River, and the forests and wet­lands in Mount Rich­mond Na­tional Park to name a few.

Walk­ers want­ing to get a close look at lo­cal fur seals and pere­grine falcons should choose the sec­tion around at Bridge­wa­ter Bay. Four­teen camp­sites al­low­ing one-night stays are lo­cated along the walk with walk­ing sec­tions of 10.6 - 26.3 kilo­me­tres be­tween camps.

Above left: Ot­way Fly Tree­top. Be­low right: Bells Beach. Op­po­site page top: A koala in Tower Hill Na­tional Park.

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