Wildlife Wonders is just up the Great Ocean Road from Apollo Bay but feels like a world away.
Full of native plants and wildlife, it is a glimpse of what the Otways once was, what it was like before the invasion of introduced species. It truly is a special place and well worth the visit for so many reasons – let’s get into a few of them here.
National Geographic has named the planet’s 25 most exciting destinations for 2022 – and Wildlife Wonders is one of them! Named under the best places to enjoy nature for the amazing experience and the conservation efforts connected to the Otways.
The journey you take at Wildlife Wonders has been crafted and created by Brian Massey — an Art Director of ‘The Hobbit’ films, and landscape designer of New Zealand’s award winning Hobbiton experience. The beautiful hand-built undulating walkway and hand sculpted wooden rails blend in seamlessly with the surroundings. I would say it’s worth a visit just to experience this!
Least to say my guide Jess, an Environmental Scientist, really knew her stuff. Jess talked us through the different ecosystems we were walking through such as the Eucalypt woodlands, the grasslands where you can really hear all the birds, frogs and insects and the cooler fern gully. She pointed things out that I would otherwise missed — things like how to spot wallaby tracks through long grass and a plant called the Mother Shield Fern which comes with a beautiful story as to why it is named so. On the Mother Shield Fern, the mother fern grows a baby fern on the end of one of its leaves, then once the baby gets heavier, the mother drops it into the ground to grow roots. The mother fern leaf will then detach and pop back up to shield the baby fern from the sun while it grows. How incredible.
Wildlife Wonders has been built with accessibility in mind so everyone can enjoy the experience. The tour and the cafe are all wheelchair accessible — welcoming everyone to come and learn about the wonders of the Otways.
This means there is no patting or feeding the animals. These animals are wild, this is a truly genuine experience of what the Otways once was.
At the beginning of the tour, you are presented with your own binoculars which you will be using a lot. You’ll always be keeping a keen eye out for tree creeping birds, eagles soaring above, koalas snoozing in tree forks, and wallabies and kangaroos staring at you through the long grass. If you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of the tiny white lipped snake or a timid Bandicoot!
Wildlife Wonders is all about taking the time to look and to listen.
With your binoculars in hand, up on the hill with an incredible view over Blanket Bay. Looking up you will likely see eagles and hawks, and below — it is a perfect vantage spot across the expanse of the Southern Ocean to spot a migrating whale or even a pod.
Whilst Wildlife Wonders is surrounded by a fence to keep out predators and pests like rabbits, some of the animals you will see (and all of the birds) have made their own way in because it looked so enticing! Koalas came in jumping from treetop to treetop (yes believe it or not, they can jump!), and birds of all kinds have made new homes. Other wildlife you will find here includes Swamp Wallabies, Red Shouldered Wallabies, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Potoroos, Pademelons, Bandicoots, Frogs, Sugar Gliders and stacks more.
Wildlife Wonders is run by the Conservation Ecology Centre in Cape Otway and all the profits from Wildlife Wonders go directly toward working to conserve the unique Australian plants and animals across the Otways. This passionate team works tirelessly on the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways region.
Along the way, your guide will point out their camera and sound tracking systems, how and why the equipment is used to collect data for their research. Toward the end of the tour, you will explore the Research Base which shows you how big a Wedge Tailed Eagle’s wingspan really is, how fire is used for regeneration and the opportunity to see some of the research tracking data collected on their screens. This is such an important educational part of the tour that explains why conservation efforts are needed in the Otways.
It’s not just about looking for animals, it’s about smelling the different ecosystems as you walk through them and sensing their different climates. The scent of the eucalypts or the coolness of the fern gully. It’s about hearing what’s around you that you may not be able to see. Then of course it’s about taste. Sitting down at Emu Cafe and chatting about what everyone experienced on the tour with a delicious meal cooked in their kitchen or an afternoon coffee and cake stop.
With an abundance of books on Indigenous culture, plants, animals, birds, how to make your own possum nesting boxes and insect homes, you’ll be browsing for a while. Beautiful locally designed cards, locally crocheted native animals, Wildlife Wonders souvenirs and so much more – and plenty for kids too. It’s the perfect place to find a gift or a take home momento.
You can keep up to date with the latest on their Instagram @wildlifewondersaus
To find out more, read the FAQs and to book tickets, you can jump on their website wildlifewonders.org.au
Make sure to tag any of your photos with @visitgreatoceanroad for the chance to be shared on the @visitgreatoceanroad Instagram.
We hope you absolutely love your Wildlife Wonders experience!
Trying to get too close to wildlife or feeding them, while nice for you, is harmful to the behaviour and health of the animal or bird — and often with detrimental long term effects. You should never feed birds or wildlife, always let wildlife be wild.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.