Flora & fauna
Nature and wildlife in Victoria
The distinct landscapes of this unique and varied state
are home to a plethora of wildlife, much of it rare or
endangered. From the wet temperate rainforest to the dry
eucalyptus forest, and from the coastal heaths to the
soaring granite ridges, this region is home to a truly
extraordinary range of species, many of which are not
found anywhere else on the planet.
The winding roads and walking paths that crisscross the
region will lead you to some of the world’s most intriguing
animal and plant life, but only if you keep your eyes, ears
and mind wide open. Take some time out to explore the
environment here and it will reward you with wildlife
encounters quite unlike any you’ve had before, but bear
in mind that Australian native species spent thousands
of years in isolation and are consequently extremely
shy. Take care not to disturb or scare them. Move
slowly and quietly or don’t move at all, stopping instead
to open your ears to your surroundings and let the
wildlife come to you.
Victoria’s flora and fauna is mind-blowingly diverse. In the heathlands look out for echidnas digging for ants and the springtime wildflower displays.
Where the grasslands and the bush meet, watch for mobs of eastern grey kangaroos and red-shouldered wallabies grazing in their family groups as the sun goes down. And in the wetlands near the coast keep your eyes peeled for waders and water birds nesting in the thick reeds and rushes.
Numerous species including the purple swamp hen and mountain duck are found here and this is also the habitat of the tiger snake, a slow-moving snake which is consequently easy to spot.
The Otways are a particularly fruitful area when it comes to wildlife spotting. Once an island range, this area was cut off from mainland Australia for a millennia, and is consequently a habitat for numerous endemic plants and animals which are found nowhere else.
The rich soils and high rainfall here have combined to produce some of the most impressive forest in Australia, including extensive areas of mountain ash and numerous leafy fern gullies. In the grassy eucalypt woodlands koalas are seen in the trees and crimson rosellas sit like Christmas decorations in the branches.
Deeper in the forest black wallabies can be seen and the eerie call of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo heard, and as the eucalypts give way to myrtle beech and blackwoods the atmosphere is cooler and damper, ideal for the endemic and carnivorous Otway Black Snail.
Wildlife lovers should also not miss Phillip Island
, where a vast array of Australian wildlife can be seen in a small area. The mangroves, mudflats and salt marshes of Rhyll Inlet are home to an enticing selection of birdlife including the long-beaked ibis and the stately black swan, while the island’s fantastic wildlife parks are the perfect place to encounter, and even pet, kangaroos and koalas.
Life in the waters of the Southern Ocean is just as varied as that on land. Along the coast, Australian fur seals sun themselves, while the beaches are home to plenty of shore birds including the white-bellied sea eagle, oyster catchers and both black and white hooded plovers.
Just after sunset, sit silently on the beach and you may even catch a glimpse of a little penguin making its way up the beach from the waves to its burrow – visit Phillip Island for guaranteed sightings at Summerland Beach.
In the ocean itself, the star of the show is the Southern right whale
, which can be seen here from May to October as the pod gives birth to and tends its young.
But common and bottlenose dolphins are also often seen and the offshore islands are havens for birds such as shearwaters, Australian gannets and orange-bellied parrots as well as the ever-popular little penguin.
Find out more about nature and wildlife around the Great Ocean Road
and how it relates to aboriginal culture
, and read our nature watching tips
for the Great Ocean Road.