Despite the koala's shyness and propensity to sleep through much of the excitement, opportunities abound for spotting koalas in the wild as you travel around Victoria.
Find them in the forks
The koala spends much of its time in the high forks of eucalyptus tree branches. Adjust your vision and hone in on the treetop hotspots to see koalas dozing among the leaves, especially in Gippsland and on the Great Ocean Road.
Some furry facts
While eucalyptus is obviously delicious and has a sufficiently high water content to ensure koalas only need to drink occasionally, it provides few nutrients. As a result, koalas sleep for around 20 hours a day and move sluggishly when they're awake. A marsupial that's closely related to the wombat, the asocial koala weans its joey at 12 months and sends it out to find its own way in the world.
Koalas in Victoria
Victoria's koala population is large and continues to maintain healthy numbers; however, increasingly koalas are becoming vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In general, the moist, temperate climate of Victoria suits these cute fur balls, which grow up to 14 kilograms. Their northern Australian relatives weigh only around 8 kilograms and have shorter, sparser fur.
The Great Ocean Road is prime koala-spotting territory, along with the route to the lighthouse at Cape Otway. A short ferry ride from Paynesville in Gippsland will take you to nearby Raymond Island, where you can see koalas lazing about in the trees along the Raymond Island Koala Walk. The relatively undeveloped French Island, in Western Port Bay, is home to a sizeable and healthy population of wild koalas, and well worth a visit.
For a guaranteed sighting of a koala and a chance to see them from their treetop vantage point, visit Healesville Sanctuary and the Koala Conservation Reserve on Phillip Island. Maru Koala and Animal Park in Gippsland and Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park on the Mornington Peninsula allow you to get up close to koalas. Conservationists at Wildlife Wonders on the Great Ocean Road lead you through bush to spot wild koalas, and Melbourne Zoo's koala-viewing area is also a highlight.
Koalas have been known to topple from trees. They usually survive falls and immediately climb back up, but injuries and deaths from falls do occur. They can be hit by speeding cars, so take care on the roads.