Where to spot ’roos..
1) Never played golf in the presence of kangaroos before? Change that on the Great Ocean Road, where you can tee off alongside admiring (or critical, depending on your skill set) ’roos in the natural bush setting of Anglesea Golf Club.
2) Close to Warrnambool, also on the Great Ocean Road, you can meet roaming kangaroos in Tower Hill State Game Reserve, the site of a volcano (don’t worry, it’s extinct). You can also sign up for starlit wildlife walks at the reserve.
3) Going camping in the Grampians or in Gippsland's Wilson's Promontory National Park? Chances are you’ll clap eyes on eastern grey kangaroos – though they won’t hang around if they see you. They’re most active at dusk and dawn.
4) Not far from Melbourne, you can sometimes see kangaroos in their natural habitat in the You Yang Ranges; it’s also possible to spy them in the Yarra and Dandenong ranges.
5) Of course, the Melbourne Zoo has a kangaroo enclosure – a replica of their natural habitat. Healesville Sanctuary in the scenic Yarra Valley is also home to a mob of red kangaroos.
Where to spot koalas...
1) While you’re ’roo-spotting at Tower Hill Reserve, Victoria’s first National Park, keep an eye out for koalas, too. (The reserve is also home to a dizzying array of flora and fauna, including wallabies, echidnas, reptiles and emus.) To get the most from your trip, join a Worn Gundidj guided walking tour to learn about the reserve’s wildlife and its history from the Aboriginal guides.
2) Challenge your companions to a koala count at Kennett River, about a 20-minute drive from Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, where it’s possible to spy 30 or 40 koalas snoozing in the gum trees (if you’re the lucky possessor of beady eyes). While you’re here, have some fish and chips from the Kafe Koala – best enjoyed on the beach.
3) If you’re driving on Lighthouse Road, which runs down to the Cape Otway Lighthouse, keep your eyes peeled for cars that have stopped by the side of the road – you’re pretty much guaranteed of a sighting.
4) Award-winning Echidna Walkabout isn’t stingy when it comes to koala-spotting opps: there are a range of tours, from one-day adventures to four-day stints. Proceeds from your visit go to conservation and research, so you’ll actively be helping the koalas have a brighter future.
5) Koalas pootle around freely at the Healesville Sanctuary in the bucolic Yarra Valley, an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Follow the clever boardwalks that take you up to branch level, so you can snoop on dozing koalas. The region is famous for its wineries and restaurants, so don’t rush off.
When to go Victoria is knee-weakeningly lovely in spring (September–November) and autumn (March–May), when it’s warm but not too hot for exploring. In summer, Melbourne has a party atmosphere, with plenty of free activities on offer; this is also a great time to join the locals and hit the coast. Winter (June to August) may be a little cold and wet, but clear skies suit wine tours in the Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula (www.visitmorningtonpeninsular.org).
Where to sleep Once you’ve amassed a respectable kangaroo-and-koala count, sleep off the adventure in one of Smith’s Victorian sweethearts – there are eight to choose from.
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