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The Great Ocean Road is well known as one of the best places in Australia to see koalas in the wild.. The area is home to a large population of koalas that enjoy the pristine wilderness of the Otway Ranges and surrounding coastal areas. Seeing the furry native creatures in their natural environment is an experience not to be missed. And although they are quite shy, there’s several places you are almost guaranteed to see koalas on the Great Ocean Road.
Kennett River Koala Walk
A favourite attraction on the Great Ocean Road, this is one of the best spots to see koalas in their natural habitat. Most visitors stop close to Koala Kafe at the bottom of Grey River Road. Here you can see a koala or two but if you stroll or drive a little further up the road you can see many more nestled in the branches of the eucalyptus trees. They love to nestle in the tree branches that tower over the track.
The best times to see the koalas in Kennett River is either early morning or late afternoon. By mid morning tour buses arrive and the site can become quite crowded. If you find the area busy, continue another 6 kilometres further up the road to the Grey River Picnic Area, a lovely tranquil spot with BBQs. You can see koalas here too.
At Kennett River there is also an abundance of King Parrots and cockatoos. It’s a beautiful sight to see them flocking around however please heed the warning signs and do not feed the birds. They can become sick or dependent on the wrong type of food.
Cape Otway and the Great Otway National Park
Th Great Otway National Park is home to a sizeable number of koalas – some estimate the population to be around 20,000. They are often seen along Lighthouse Road as koalas love munching on the leaves of Manna Gums found in this area. You won’t see koalas from your car so the best tip is to pull over safely on the side of the road, go for a walk and look up into the trees.
Camp with Koalas
Kennett River Holiday Park
Midway between Lorne and Apollo Bay, if you stay at the Kennett River Holiday Park you’ll have some furry neighbours. Mature trees provide homes for koalas as well as shade and shelter for those who camp or rent a cabin at the site. This park is also a great place for spotting other native wildlife. Campers may see dolphins, whales, seals, King parrots, kookaburras and glow worms as well as koalas.
Bimbi Park in Cape Otway
At a secluded, tranquil spot under towering manna gums lies Bimbi Park, another site which offers guests the chance to camp beneath the local koala population. Accommodation ranges from bush camping sites and bunk rooms to vans and luxury cabins.
Tips for spotting koalas
Koalas are very shy and experts at camouflage. They are naturally more active at night and sleep during the day so may not be easy to spot. You’ll usually find koalas perched at the point where the branch leaves the tree trunk, so train your eyes to look for those spots in the trees. Binoculars and zoom camera lenses are useful as they may be high up in the top limbs of trees.
In the mornings koalas are most likely to be asleep so you won’t see too much movement, just the animal snuggled in the branches. By later afternoon they start to stir. Run your eyes up or down the tree truck, looking at the places where the branches join the tree, as this tends to be their favourite place to relax.
If you’re driving, you probably won’t see koalas from your car due to their excellent camouflage. Find a safe place to pull over and explore on foot, making sure to keep quiet to avoid disturbing them.
Lastly, don’t forget to look up wherever there are gum trees. Even though they are shy, koalas are often seen venturing closer to civilisation in their search for food.
How many koalas will you spot on the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road koalas are some of the best things to see on your trip down the coast. It’s increasingly rare to see koalas in their natural habitat so enjoy the experience and be respectful to Australia’s favourite animal.
Once you spot one koala you’ll find it easier to see many more. So stay quiet, keep your eyes open – and don’t forget to look up! You get extra points if you see a koala with a joey (baby) on her back.