Despite its crippling shyness and propensity to sleep through much of the koala-spotting excitement, there are opportunities to spot 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, so adjust your vision and hone in on the treetop hotspots to see koalas dozing in the trees, 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 and 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 has grown steadily compared to other Australian states. The moist, temperate climate suits the furballs, which grow up to 14 kilograms, while their northern relatives are only around eight kilograms and have shorter thinner fur.
The Great Ocean Road is prime koala spotting territory, with Kennett River ground zero, along with the route to the lighthouse at Cape Otway. A short ferry ride from Paynesville in Gippsland will get you to nearby Raymond Island, where you can see koalas lazing about in the trees along the Raymond Island Koala Walk. Finally, 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 Centre on Phillip Island. Maru Koala and Animal Park in Gippsland lets you get up close to koalas, and you can actually cuddle a koala at certain times at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park on the Mornington Peninsula. The 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, particularly by speeding cars, so take care on the roads.
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