How can you resist this adorable Australian marsupial with its fluffy ears and a black-button nose?
When you visit Australia, seeing a koala, especially in the wild, should be on your to-do list!
Or you can see koalas up-close like this one at many animal sanctuaries in Australia.
You can pay extra at Moonlight Sanctuary in Victoria to take photos with this koala.
Interestingly, the koala gets its name from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” because the animal receives over 90 percent of its water from the Eucalyptus or gum tree leaves it eats.
And when you spot koalas in the wild, you’ll see them doing one of two things – eating or sleeping!
Since we’ve travelled along the Great OceanRoad route on two separate occasions, I thought I’d share the best spots to see a koala in its natural habitat. Fortunately, the Victoria region contains the country’s highest population of koalas. You’ll also find koalas in most coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia as well as in inland woodlands, but none in western Australia or Tasmania.
Where to Find Koalas along the Great Ocean Road:
Apollo Bay to Lorne
After spending the night in a tranquil setting with seaviews of Apollo Bay, we hit the road in the morning. My husband had just turned onto the main road when I squealed. He pulled the rental car over to the side of the road in a furry and asked me what the hell was wrong. I had just seen my first koala up in a tree!
Hubby didn’t find this too funny and said my squeals of delight and imminent danger should be different sounds. Ha ha! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of this koala, but basically be on the lookout when driving from Apollo Bay to Lorne. According to the Victoria Parks website, the coastal bushland between Lorne and Apollo Bay is home to a large population of koalas.
Beautiful view of Apollo Bay, but no koalas here.
Driving along the 12-km route on Otway Lighthouse Road, I became the master koala spotter and found heaps of these cuddly creatures in the middle of the Great Otway National Park. We drove slowly and pulled over whenever I spotted a potential koala or when another car ahead of us did.
The koalas blend into their surroundings quite well…grey-colored fur next to grey gum tree bark and silver-green eucalyptus leaves. But as you’re gazing up into the trees, you start to recognize the shapes of koalas and the search becomes pretty easy!
Sadly, the koalas recently had overpopulated in this area and basically ate themselves out of house and home on the local manna gum trees. At the end of 2015, about 400 koalas were moved from Cape Otway to northeast of Lorne so they would have a different species of gum trees to munch on in the forest.
It’s worth driving all the way to the end of the road and checking out the historic lighthouse at Cape Otway.
Thanks to the helpful tourist information lady in Lorne, we heard about the tiny village of Kennett River, which became the easiest place to spot koalas. Just park near the Koala Cove Café and follow the rest of the tourists gazing up into the gum trees. The koalas are usually more active in the late afternoon when they are eating leaves or seeking new branches to climb.
Did you know that koalas eat half a kilo of leaves per day?
Or you might find a lot of koalas sleeping amongst the branches like we did! Koalas spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping because eating is such difficult work! The eucalyptus leaves are very low in nutrition and high in fibrous matter so they take a large amount of energy to digest.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also see some of the colorful Australian parrots that call Kennett River home. These cheeky birds will land right on you and feed out of your hand!
This post is linked up with #WeekendWanderlust by travel bloggers A Southern Gypsy, A Brit and a Southerner, Justin Plus Lauren and One Modern Couple. Hop on over to their blogs to see more travel stories!