Australian Walks: Great Ocean wildlife walks
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,
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.