Best Places to See Koalas in Australia
By : Mike Jerrard
When one thinks of Australia one of course first envisions the iconic kangaroos bounding across the outback. Coming in a close second place would have to be the adorable koalas.
While seeing kangaroos is almost certain in many areas across Australia, the koala is much more shy and elusive which makes planning a necessity when it comes to seeing one in the wild.
First off the koala is found in Eastern Australia from Queensland down into South Australia so should you be visiting Perth, Darwin, or Uluru you will be out of luck if a wild koala is what you wish to see. Thankfully many visitors come into Australia via Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide all of which offer opportunities to go home with a snapshot of the adorable marsupial.
Of course there are many parks and zoos across Australia which can offer up close and personal encounters with koalas there is nothing like seeing one in the wild….although be warned that sleeping is their main hobby so don’t be disappointed if you don’t come away with stunning action shots.
So here are some top places to see a wild koala.
Raymond Island – Victoria
You have to be cursed with bad luck to not see koalas on this small island. A large population flourishes here after being introduced back in the 1950s as part of a conservation effort. The island is accessed via a very quick free for pedestrian ferry which takes you to a beautiful charming island with many accommodation options which will allow you to sleep with koalas right outside your window. A well set up trail allows all types to enjoy seeing wild koalas up close.
Kangaroo Island – South Australia
Kangaroo Island is home to literally tens of thousands of koalas. They far outnumber the human residents of the island. From just a few dozen introduced in the early 20th century their numbers have exploded, so much that a controversial cull was implemented at one point. Now a relocation program has replaced the culling.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place you are sure to get glimpses of wild koalas as well as other wildlife. A reasonable $9 entry fee with have you coming home with some great images.
If you want a really wild experience hunting for koalas then I recommend Lathami Conservation Park on the North side of the island. I have had really good luck spotting koalas here as well as the rare and beautiful Glossy black cockatoos. You will find yourself alone in pristine wilderness …alone except for the wildlife of course.
Kennett River – Victoria
Besides being one of the world’s most scenic drives, the Great Ocean Road provides many good places to see koalas in the wild. A top spot is Kennett River which lies between Lorne and Apollo Bay. Take a drive or hike along Grey River Road which starts at the Kennett River Coastal Reserve. You are bound to see many koalas and should you visit in the spring you may see the young baby koalas
Port Stephens – New South Wales
An hour outside of Newcastle, Port Stephens and its swamp mahogany trees offer great habitat for koalas and ample opportunities for spotting them. Tilligerry Habitat Environment Centre offers self guided or volunteer guided tours where you can not only spot koalas but also many species of birds.
Bimbi Park – Victoria
How would you like to sleep with a koala, or at least camp underneath them. Bimbi Park in Cape Otway offers wonderful accommodation options in the heart of the Great Ocean Road wilderness with pristine beaches and bushland. Really dive into nature here with incredible hiking options and abundant wildlife. So although you cannot technically snuggle up and sleep with the koalas you are bound to spot and camp amongst them.
Should you wish to see koalas on your Australia trip but aren’t quite up to getting out into the wild bush then here is some recommendations for sanctuaries and parks that offer guaranteed captive sightings. Many offer hands on encounters and are in many cases easy to get to from major cities across Australia. So if time is limited then these may be a better option for you.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – Brisbane
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve – Canberra
Featherdale Wildlife Park – Doonside Sydney
Healesville Sanctuary – Melbourne
WILD LIFE – Hamilton Island