From: $1,175 USD
Duration: 3 days/2 nights
Type: Private Charter.
Departs: Every Tuesday & Friday (October to April); every Tuesday (May to September)
About Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours:
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours was founded by Roger Smith and Janine Duffy in 1993, with the vision to bring people and wildlife together for mutual benefit. The award-winning team believes that observing and connecting with wildlife is a key element in enriching the lives for people of all backgrounds; whether this interaction is for pleasure, new experiences and learning, for connection to the land or the basic needs for humans to breathe clean air and drink clean water via healthy ecosystems.
Price per person based on double occupancy, including touring & accommodation. Single supplements apply. Black-out dates may apply. Pricing is subject to availability and all prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Currency fluctuations may affect prices as quotes based on AUD. Prices are current at time of posting (1/4/2023) and may differ when you book your travel. Please contact us for our current pricing and itinerary details*
Upon departing Melbourne, guests will travel west to the beautiful eucalypt forests of the Serendip and You Yangs National Parks to spot wild Koalas and cockatoos including Corellas, Galahs, the iconic Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Other birds that may be encountered include White-winged Choughs, Emus, Cape Barren, Magpie Geese, Laughing Kookaburras.
"I’ve had a connection with the You Yangs for a really long time since I first discovered that wildlife was my thing. My partner and I went there on our first date - and I didn’t realise then that I would end up spending so much of my time there with the Koalas. I got used to it and I just think it’s extremely beautiful - it’s the kind of landscape that I think people expect Australia to look like. White gum trees, the grass underneath, open vistas - it’s absolutely beautiful."
Janine Duffy - Guide & Co-founder
Led by an experienced Wildlife Guide, the group will be alongside a Koala Researcher, searching for these sometimes elusive arboreal mammals. To help protect these adorable animals, guests will take part in the “Make a Home for Koala Clancy” conservation project by removing the invasive Boneseed weed.
On the grassy plains, wildlife guides will share how to approach wild mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos without disturbing them. A fascinating insight will be given into the complex social life of Australia’s most iconic animal, with the opportunity to get close enough to observe these behaviours.
Emus, cockatoos, Superb Fairy-wrens, numerous honeyeaters, Swamp Wallabies, Blue-tongued Skinks and Jacky Lizards are also likely to be encountered.
After a substantial picnic lunch, we continue to the Great Ocean Road where we explore the landscapes and wildlife of this iconic coastline. Travel inland to our guesthouse in the small town of Forrest nestled high in the forest of the Otway Ranges. Prepare for tomorrow morning’s early start to search for Platypus.
Accommodation is at Forrest Guesthouse, a boutique country guesthouse, only a short stroll from the Terminus Hotel pub and bistro.
Begin your day at dawn for a magical canoe trip looking for Platypus on calm Lake Elizabeth deep in the rainforest of the Otway Ranges – a once in a lifetime experience.
Returning to the famous Great Ocean Road, guests will enjoy some of the world’s most spectacular coastal scenery, traversing through rainforests, beaches and dramatic cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone, that have been weathered by the surging Southern Ocean surf.
Guests will travel past quaint seaside holiday villages with glorious beaches and into the rainforest of the Great Otway National Park. This forest rings with the calls of Crimson Rosellas, Golden Whistlers, Pied Currawongs.
Later the group will travel through Port Campbell National Park, looking out for Short-beaked Echidnas, Red-necked and Swamp Wallabies, Rufous Bristlebirds and Southern Brown Bandicoots in the rich coastal heathlands. Linger a while to take in some of nature’s handiwork at the Twelve apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
Accommodation is just outside Port Campbell at the Daysy Hill Country Cottages.
After a leisurely breakfast, guests will travel to the remote western edge of the Great Ocean Road to see the glorious limestone coastal formations the morning light. Heading inland guests will then encounter coastal forests and the Western Plains; a land of enormous sheep stations and dramatic skies.
The Western Plains were created by many small volcanoes over the past two million years. Many birds benefit from the open lands, including Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brown Falcons and Nankeen Kestrels which can be seen soaring overhead. The region is also home to many large permanent lakes, which we travel past, stopping to watch for waterbirds. The group then returns to Melbourne in the late afternoon after an amazing three days spent with your expert wildlife guide.
Pick-up and Drop Off Point: Melbourne city hotels
Pick-up and Drop-off Time: 8:00am on day one, Approximately 5:00pm on day four.
Private Touring: Tours are private departures and price depends on group size. From $1,700 (based on group of 5+). Additional extended touring options available, please enquire.
Please note: tour does not operate on or through 25 and 26 December or 1st January .
WINNER Best for Wildlife Conservation at the World Responsible Tourism Awards London • 2014
WINNER Seatrade Cruise Award for World’s Most Innovative Shore Excursion • 2017
WINNER TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2018 • 2017 • 2016 • 2015 • 2014
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours contributes observations of flora & fauna via iNaturalist, the world’s leading global social biodiversity network. This platform allows our team to create research-quality citizen science data that enables a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists bodies such as the CSIRO, ecologists and other decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species.
Our guides record observations with iNaturalist Australia by using the iNaturalist app on mobile phones or desktop computers. An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location in Victoria. We require photos to be attached to observations for them to become research grade and added to the Atlas of Living Australia.
This is where you can greatly assist us in capturing images out in the field! Although we make broader observations that we think are valuable to the local scientific community, we have identified the following species to track when we are exploring Victoria by vehicle or on foot.
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours has been at the forefront of policy development for responsible Koala viewing based on over 27 years of research. In 2006, the organisation launched the Sustainable Koala Watching Code, implementing a welfare policy for guides, researchers and staff members in order to reduce human behaviours that cause Koalas to respond negatively as much as possible.
This includes policies such as maintaining a distance of 10 metres (horizontally) from any wild Koala, never surrounding a Koala’s tree and avoiding excessive movement or noise around wild Koalas.
Interestingly, a recent scientific study has found that even captive Koalas subjected to people at close proximity (5 metres) do experience higher levels of stress than when people are further away, highlighting the importance of this requirement. Given that the organisation often visits and studies the same Koalas on a regular basis, this code has enabled a positive, or at least benign relationship to form with these wild Koalas.
Echidna Walkabout’s decade long Koala research that commenced in 2006, showed that wild Koalas rarely use eucalypts surrounded by thick infestations of Boneseed – an introduced weed native to South Africa. Consequently, in 2011 the Make a Home for Koala Clancy weed removal project began, which includes the opportunity for all guests on tours across the You Yangs and Great Ocean Road, to remove a weed to help a Koala. It is estimated that 50,000 weeds have been removed every year on these tours.
In 2014, Koala Conservation Days for locals were added to the project to educate and involve local people as volunteers in activities such as weed removal, tree planting and maintenance, with the costs of these days heavily subsidised by Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours and Koala Clancy Foundation donors. It is estimated that 400,000 – 650,000 boneseed weeds are removed each year on Koala Conservation Days for Locals with an estimated total of 1,500,000 weeds removed between locals and tourists.
In 1998 Echidna Walkabout’s co-founder Janine Duffy discovered a revolutionary method of identifying individual Koalas through their distinctive natural black and white marking patterns inside their nostrils. That discovery launched a non-intrusive wild Koala Research Project that continues to this day.
The study documenting nose markings over 22 years and across more than 100 individual Koalas in four locations in southern Victoria, showed that the nose pattern stays essentially the same throughout life, with no two Koala patterns being identical. This method provides a cost-effective and reliable non-intrusive process of monitoring wild Koala populations and has since been embraced by Koala research groups across Australia. Koalas are identified by observation at a distance, through binoculars, without the need for tagging, handling or causing stress to individual animals.
Every wild Koala sighted in the You Yangs or Brisbane Ranges National Parks has been photographed, named & identified, their sex established, location taken and tree species and height in tree noted. The Wild Koala Research Project is Echidna Walkabout’s own initiative, and fully funded by their social enterprise structure, with Koala researchers employed to input data, conduct research analysis and reconnaissance. This ensures a high degree of success with Koala sightings and adds valuable monitoring data to each day’s sightings.
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours created, and remains the primary supporter of, the not-for-profit Koala Clancy Foundation. The foundation is set up to support, advocate and plant trees for wild koalas, particularly around the You Yangs and on the Western Plains of Victoria. Started in 2015, the charity relies on the donations and promotional reach of international travellers, and the willing hands of local volunteers and private landowners to restore koala habitat to the rivers and creeks of western Victoria.