One of the joys of a visit to Victoria is a chance to see our unique wildlife. Fortunately, opportunities abound for such sightings both around Melbourne’s city centre and a little further afield. Here are some of our favourite places.
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is the place to see what wildlife inhabits the waters surrounding Australia. There are thousands of aquatic animals and one of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles. The Croc Lair Exhibit is one of the 12 zones of discovery at the aquarium. Other highlights include the display of Elephant sharks in Bay of Rays while Coral Caves is home to the clown fish made famous in the movie “Finding Nemo”. The Seahorse Pier is home to numerous species of Australian seahorses and seadragons.
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park is home to 50 Australian species. Visit during the day, and you’ll see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingoes and reptiles. Join a guided lantern-lit evening tour, and you’ll discover such Australian nocturnal animals as feather-tail gliders, a nightjar, quolls, Tasmanian devils, owls, possums, bettongs, potoroos and pademelons. Another highlight is the birdlife. Bird species include parrots such as the critically endangered Orange Bellied parrots, honeyeaters, Red-tailed Black cockatoos, gang gang and bower birds.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Though Werribee Open Range Zoo is best known for its larger animals from around the world, it’s also home to a number of native Australian fauna. Walk through the Australian Journey grasslands and you’ll find kangaroos, emus, brolgas and koalas. Set on the banks of the Werribee River, this immersive exhibit also features the Wirribi River Walking Trail which is a predator-proof release site for the Eastern barred bandicoot. The Bandicoot Hideout is also home to other local natives including Squirrel Gliders, Fat-tailed Dunnarts and the Tawny Frogmouth.
The Australian bush area at Melbourne Zoo is home to numerous indigenous fauna, including koalas, wallabies, emus, wombats and Tasmanian devils. The Great Flight Aviary houses an array of bird species including Red-tailed Black cockatoos, Wonga pigeons, Apostle birds and Jabiru. “Wild Sea”, Melbourne Zoo’s largest ever exhibit, showcases the distinctive animal inhabitants and natural beauty of Victoria’s coast and ocean. Here you will find little penguins, Australian Fur Seals and Australian pelicans.
Healesville Sanctuary, in the heart of the Yarra Valley, is regarded as one of the best places to see Australian wildlife in its natural habitat. It’s home to koalas, kangaroos, wombats, emus, dingoes and platypuses. Other highlights include Spirits of the Sky, a free flight presentation featuring Australian raptors such as the wedge tailed eagle and colourful parrot species. There’s also an interactive platypus show where you can watch these usually very shy creatures interact with keepers, play in the water and even have their tummies tickled. Another highlight is the Australian Wildlife Health Centre, a working veterinarian hospital treating over 1,500 orphaned, ill or injured wildlife every year.
Ballarat Wildlife Park
Ballarat Wildlife Park houses a rich collection of native Australian wildlife in 16 hectares of natural bushland. The park is home to kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas and spotted-tail quolls. There are also plenty of Australian reptiles including some of our most venomous snakes such as the inland taipan, common death adder and tiger snake. The park features a million-dollar crocodile enclosure where Crunch, a 5-metre long saltwater crocodile, lives.
Phillip Island truly is a wildlife watchers delight with penguins, seals, koalas and numerous species of birds all found here. Visit the Penguin Parade any night of the year around sunset and you’ll see hundreds of little penguins race up Summerland Beach to their burrows. The Penguin Parade includes numerous tour options catering for all budgets. There are several ways to see Australia’s largest fur seal colony which calls Seal Rocks home. You can visit by boat or you can take advantage of the high powered binoculars at the Nobbies.
The Koala Conservation Centre features 35 koalas with a number located in two boardwalk areas, designed to allow close up views of both the koalas and the surrounding bushland. There are also koalas in the six hectares of Australian bushland surrounding the boardwalks. Birds from all around the world can be seen on the island at different times of the year including a colony of pelicans at San Remo which are fed daily.