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18 Best Places To See Koala In Melbourne 2024

16/09/2023
12 mins read
Koala
Source: David Clode

Want to trigger an Aussie in record time? Just utter the words “koala bear.” For the uninitiated, koalas are not actually bears—they’re marsupials, which means they carry their young in pouches like kangaroos.

From chill state parks to the most Instagrammable coastal towns, Melbourne and its surrounds are packed with spots to spy on our adorable, eucalyptus-loving buddies: koalas!

Whether you’re a local or just dropping by, these koala hotspots will have you snapping pics faster than you can say “drop bear” (iykyk). So, dust off that camera, and get ready to dive into the enchanting world of koalas in Melbourne. Trust me, it’s a vibe.

Don’t Miss

1. Koala Conservation Reserve on Phillip Island

The Koala Conservation Reserve on Phillip Island is dedicated to the conservation of koalas and offers visitors the opportunity to observe these animals in their natural habitat. The reserve features two treetop boardwalks, allowing for superb up-close koala viewing, as well as several walking trails through the lush native bushland.

Visitors can also learn more about koalas and their forest habitats through interactive displays in the visitor center and join daily Koala Keeper Talks. The reserve is home to other native wildlife, such as wallabies, echidnas, and colorful native birds, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

2. Kennett River

Kennett River, situated along the Great Ocean Road, is well-known for its koala population. The Grey River Road, surrounded by a eucalyptus forest, provides an ideal habitat for koalas and is the best place to spot them in this area. In addition to koalas, Kennett River is home to a variety of bird species, making it a great spot for birdwatching.

The Kennett River Koala Walk offers visitors the chance to see koalas up close in their natural habitat. This short walk is perfect for families and can be easily accessed from the Great Ocean Road. While visiting Kennett River, don’t forget to stop by the local general store for some essentials and hot food.

Kennett River is not only a fantastic place to see koalas but also offers beautiful beaches, bushland, and other wildlife, making it an ideal pit stop along the Great Ocean Road.

3. Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary, located in rural Victoria, is a zoo specializing in native Australian animals and is renowned for its close-up encounters with koalas, kangaroos, and other wildlife. The sanctuary is involved in breeding endangered species, such as the Helmeted Honeyeater, and plays a critical role in saving some of the world’s most endangered animals. It is just a one-hour drive from Melbourne CBD through the stunning Yarra Valley wine region.

Visitors can enjoy the daily Koala Keeper Talk, where they can learn about these adorable creatures and how to protect their forest habitats. The sanctuary also offers a range of animal encounters, including the Koala Experience, where guests can get up close and personal with these sleepy marsupials. In addition to koalas, Healesville Sanctuary is home to a variety of other native animals, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

4. Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park is a 25-acre biopark located on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne, Australia. The park offers visitors the chance to engage with over 70 Australian species, including endangered animals, in an enchanting bushland setting. Visitors can get up close and personal with iconic kangaroos and wallabies, hand-feed them, and even cuddle adorable koalas during the Koala Encounter.

The sanctuary is an award-winning wildlife park and an easy day trip from Melbourne or a perfect detour if you are visiting Phillip Island or the Mornington Peninsula. In addition to the Koala Encounter, the park offers a range of other animal encounters and tours, allowing visitors to learn more about Australia’s diverse wildlife and the conservation efforts being made to protect them

5. Maru Koala and Animal Park

Maru Koala and Animal Park is a family-owned wildlife park located in Grantville, Victoria, offering visitors the chance to get up close and personal with koalas and other native Australian animals. The park is dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife, providing a safe haven for these animals to recover and thrive.

Visitors can enjoy hand-feeding kangaroos and wallabies, patting koalas, and learning about the park’s conservation efforts through informative keeper talks and presentations. The park also features a mini-golf course and a pirate-themed playground, making it a fun day out for the whole family.

Maru Koala and Animal Park is an excellent destination for animal lovers of all ages, offering unique experiences and the chance to learn more about Australia’s native wildlife.

6. Warrandyte State Park

Warrandyte State Park, located east of Melbourne, is the closest state park to the city and offers a fantastic location for nature lovers. With a variety of nature-based experiences, including hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, and birdwatching, this park is perfect for those seeking some peace and solitude not far from the city. Home to over 120 bird species and various native animals, such as Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp Wallabies, and Short-beaked Echidnas, Warrandyte State Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

The park offers several walking trails, such as the moderately challenging Jumping Creek Nature Trail, which takes you along the Yarra River corridor, providing a chance for solitude and beautiful scenery. While exploring the park, you may even come across remnants of the area’s gold mining history, adding an extra layer of intrigue to your visit.

Warrandyte State Park is an excellent destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway, offering a range of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages. Remember to pack a picnic and enjoy the natural beauty of this park, just a stone’s throw away from Melbourne.

7. Wildlife Wonders on the Great Ocean Road

Wildlife Wonders, located along the Great Ocean Road, is a unique wildlife reserve that offers guided tours through a stunning bushland setting. Visitors can see koalas and other native animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas, in their natural habitat while learning about the region’s diverse ecosystems and conservation efforts.

The guided tours are led by experienced conservationists who share their knowledge and passion for Australia’s native wildlife, ensuring an informative and engaging experience for all ages. Wildlife Wonders is not only a fantastic place to see koalas but also offers breathtaking views of the Great Ocean Road and the surrounding landscape.

8. Lorne and Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road

Lorne and Apollo Bay are two picturesque coastal towns located along the Great Ocean Road, known for their koala populations. These towns offer beautiful beaches, lush bushland, and a variety of wildlife, making them ideal spots for koala sightings.

Visitors can explore the surrounding areas, such as the Great Otway National Park, where koalas can often be spotted in the eucalyptus forests. In addition to koalas, Lorne and Apollo Bay are home to a variety of bird species, making them great spots for birdwatching. These towns are perfect for a relaxing getaway, offering a range of accommodation options, restaurants, and activities for visitors to enjoy.

9. Raymond Island Koala Trail

Raymond Island, located three to four hours from Melbourne, is home to over 200 koalas and offers visitors the chance to spot these animals in their natural habitat. The Raymond Island Koala Trail is a 1.2-mile circular trek that begins in a town and ends in a forest, providing ample opportunities for koala sightings.

In addition to koalas, Raymond Island is home to other native wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of bird species. The island is easily accessible by a short ferry ride from the town of Paynesville, making it a great day trip or weekend getaway for wildlife enthusiasts.

10. Cape Otway Lightstation

Cape Otway Lightstation, located along the Great Ocean Road, is Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse and offers stunning views of the surrounding coastline. In addition to its historical significance, the area is home to a large koala population, making it a great spot for koala sightings. The surrounding eucalyptus forests provide an ideal habitat for these adorable marsupials.

Visitors can explore the lighthouse and its grounds, learn about the area’s maritime history, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean. The Cape Otway Lightstation is not only a fantastic place to see koalas but also offers a unique insight into Australia’s history and the rugged beauty of the Great Ocean Road.

11. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, located in southwestern Victoria, offers visitors the opportunity to see koalas and other native wildlife in their natural habitat. The reserve is situated within an extinct volcanic crater and features a variety of walking trails, allowing visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and spot wildlife.

In addition to koalas, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is home to kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and a variety of bird species. The reserve also offers guided tours led by experienced guides, providing an informative and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

12. French Island National Park

French Island National Park, located in Western Port Bay, is home to a thriving koala population and offers visitors the chance to observe these animals in their natural habitat. The park is accessible by ferry from Stony Point and features a variety of walking trails, allowing visitors to explore the island’s diverse landscapes and spot wildlife.

In addition to koalas, French Island National Park is home to other native wildlife, such as echidnas, wallabies, and a variety of bird species. The park offers a unique and remote experience, with limited facilities and no shops or cafes, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a true wilderness adventure.

13. Werribee Gorge State Park

Werribee Gorge State Park, located west of Melbourne, offers a variety of nature-based experiences, including hiking, rock climbing, and birdwatching. The park is home to various native animals, including koalas, and features a range of walking trails that allow visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and spot wildlife.

The park’s most popular trail, the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk, takes visitors through the stunning gorge, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and river. In addition to koalas, Werribee Gorge State Park is home to kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of bird species, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

14. Budj Bim National Park

Budj Bim National Park, located in southwestern Victoria, is known for its koala population and offers visitors the opportunity to spot these animals in their natural habitat. The park is also home to a variety of other native wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and a range of bird species.

In addition to its wildlife, Budj Bim National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for its ancient Aboriginal aquaculture systems and cultural significance. Visitors can explore the park’s walking trails, learn about its rich history, and enjoy the stunning landscapes and wildlife that the park has to offer.

15. River Murray

The River Murray area, located in southeastern Australia, is home to a koala population and offers visitors the chance to observe these animals in their natural habitat. The river and its surrounding areas provide a variety of recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

Visitors can explore the riverbanks and surrounding bushland, where they may spot koalas resting in the eucalyptus trees. In addition to koalas, the River Murray area is home to a variety of other native wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and a range of bird species, making it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

16. You Yangs Regional Park

You Yangs Regional Park, located southwest of Melbourne, offers a variety of nature-based experiences, including hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching. The park is home to various native animals, including koalas, and features a range of walking trails that allow visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and spot wildlife.

The park’s most popular trail, the Big Rock Walk, takes visitors to the summit of Flinders Peak, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. In addition to koalas, You Yangs Regional Park is home to kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of bird species, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

17. Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary, located near Geelong, offers a variety of nature-based experiences, including hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. The sanctuary is home to various native animals, including koalas, and features a range of walking trails that allow visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and spot wildlife.

The park’s most popular trail, the Wildlife Walk, takes visitors through the park’s wetlands and woodlands, offering the chance to spot a variety of bird species and other native animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas. Serendip Sanctuary is an excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts and families looking for a fun day out in nature.

18. Great Otway National Park

Great Otway National Park, located along the Great Ocean Road, is known for its koala population and offers visitors the opportunity to spot these animals in their natural habitat. The park is also home to a variety of other native wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and a range of bird species.

Visitors can explore the park’s walking trails, such as the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk, which takes you through a lush rainforest filled with ancient tree ferns and towering eucalyptus trees. In addition to koalas, Great Otway National Park offers stunning waterfalls, rugged coastline, and beautiful beaches, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.

Best Places to See Koalas in Melbourne at a Glance

Our list of best places to see koalas in Melbourne goes like this:

  • The best place to see koalas near Melbourne: Warrandyte State Park
  • The best place to see koalas along the Great Ocean Road: Kennett River
  • The best wildlife sanctuary for koalas: Healesville Sanctuary
  • The best conservation park for koalas: Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
  • The best koala reserve on Phillip Island: Koala Conservation Reserve

Discover these fantastic locations and more in our comprehensive guide to the best places to see koalas in Melbourne and its surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I see koalas in their natural habitat near Melbourne?

Warrandyte State Park and Kennett River along the Great Ocean Road are great places to see koalas in their natural habitat near Melbourne.

Which wildlife sanctuaries near Melbourne are best for koala encounters?

Healesville Sanctuary and Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park are excellent wildlife sanctuaries near Melbourne for koala encounters.

Can I hold a koala in Melbourne?

It is not allowed to hold koalas in Victoria, but you can have a photo taken with one at Ballarat Wildlife Park, Moonlit Sanctuary, or Healesville Sanctuary.

Are there any guided tours to see koalas near Melbourne?

Yes, there are guided tours available to see koalas near Melbourne, such as Wildlife Wonders on the Great Ocean Road, which is led by experienced conservationists.

How far are these koala hotspots from Melbourne’s city center?

Many of these koala hotspots are within a 1-4 hour drive from Melbourne’s city center, making them ideal for day trips or weekend getaways.

Madie

Madie is a lifestyle and travel writer at HumbleTrail. With her roots in the sunny coastal town of Eden, New South Wales.

She moved to Melbourne straight after high school and is now the go-to person in the team for the best local gems around Melbourne. She's got her ways in staying up to date with the upcoming cafes in the city before they become mainstream.

Madie's day starts off at 5 AM for her morning gym session. By 10 AM, you'll find her energized with her second coffee of the day, often sharing her latest K-pop crushes with the team.

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