Great Ocean Road
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Nature & Wildlife

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Nature & Wildlife

In a region that is best known for the pristine natural environment, there are loads of ways to get back to nature or have encounters with wildlife. 

The natural environment is just as spectacular in the water, with world class snorkeling sites and an amazing diversity of marine life right along the coastline.  Snorkel or kayak the marine sanctuaries throughout the region or dip a toe in the water at any of the beaches - this is nature at its dramatic best.



There is plenty of wildlife to be seen in the region.  There are wild koalas throughout the Otways, particularly around Kennett River and Wye River.  Scores of kangaroos share the Anglesea Golf Course with club toting players.  After dark, glow worms come to life in the Otways.  And the elusive platypus can be seen at dawn or dusk on Lake Elizabeth.



Alternatively, take yourself off the beaten track and explore the 10 waterfalls within 10 kilometres of lovely Lorne, with the help of the Lorne Walks and Waterfalls guide. 

Meet koalas, emus, kangaroos and many species of waterbirds roaming freely in Tower Hill, between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, which sits inside an extinct volcano formed some 30,000 years ago.



Nestled in Port Fairy is Griffiths Island, where some 80–90 bird species have been recorded especially seabirds and waders. There is a large breeding colony ofshort-tailed shearwaters, locally known as ‘muttonbirds’, with a viewing platform constructed to facilitate watching the birds as they return in a swarm to their burrows at dusk. Other animals resident on the island include swamp wallabies, short-beaked echidnas, blue-tongued lizards and tiger snakes.

Experience blow holes, enchanted forests, freshwater springs in Portland and surrounds

Nature puts on an exhilarating show at every turn on the Great Ocean Road.  With sparkling ocean one side and towering rainforest the other, it is a truly breathtaking journey.


Longhorn YOUnique Tours

Longhorn YOUnique Tours is a 2015 and 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner, offering tours to the Great Ocean Road, the Otway's Rainforest, Grampians, Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley and can also customise a tour to suit your needs. You will see spectacular scenery, wildlife in the natural environment, learn about the area's history and culture, enjoy homemade treats and great accommodation as Longhorn's expert guides take you on a journey of discovery. Eco Tourism and Respecting their Culture accredited, Longhorn YOUnique Tours is a family owned business operated by Garry and Shirley Hamel, two Australians who know and understand the beauty of the country. With a range of tours from one day to multiple day tours and private or customised tours to choose from. Longhorn YOUnique Tours believe that guests should not feel rushed so tours are conducted in small groups travelling in luxury four wheel-drive vehicles with your comfort and needs a top priority. A maximum of six people on each tour will give you a personalised experience to remember. Longhorn YOUnique Tours are part of the Extinction Fighters program and have adopted a Tasmanian Devil at Healesville Sanctuary. Free wireless internet onboard all tours. Contact the friendly staff at Longhorn YOUnique Tours to enquire.

Balyang Sanctuary Geelong

A haven for waterbirds and popular with picnicking families, Balyang Sanctuary is situated in Geelong suburb Newtown. The centrepiece of the nine hectare park is a lake with three islands – two connected by bridges and the third retained as a safe nesting place for native birds. Feathered residents at the sanctuary include swans, pelicans, Eurasian coot, dusky moorhen, Pacific black duck, mallard, pied cormorant, geese and silver gulls There are also shady grassed areas, picnic areas, a rotunda, free parking and public toilet facilities.

Barwon River Geelong

From its beginnings in the Otway Ranges, the Barwon River winds its way through suburban Geelong before flowing into the ocean at Barwon Heads. The Barwon River is the site for a huge number of leisure pursuits for Geelong residents. There are several rowing clubs located in Belmont, and a little further south there is an area for waterskiing. At various points along the river as it runs through Geelong there are tracks for running, cycling and walking. There are also several parks, playgrounds, picnic spots and BBQ areas. The mouth of the river has sandy banks that are well used walkers and families who build sandcastles and paddle in the shallows. Fishing is popular on the jetties near the mouth of the river and kayakers and paddlers are often seen in this area. Barwon Heads also has a sailing club where laser yachts are often seen at high tide. There are also BBQs and picnic areas alongside the riverbank.

Eastern Park

Eastern Park is 185 acres of sporting facilities, walking tracks, parkland and recreation space. Located on the edge of the Geelong CBD and bordering the Geelong Waterfront precinct, it’s a fantastic spot to enjoy fresh air and outdoor activity. The gravel track around the park is used by many locals for jogging, walking and cycling. There are 5 hard wicket cricket ovals as well as pavilions, BBQs and playgrounds, including the award winning Geelong Playspace.

Geelong Botanic Gardens

The Geelong Botanic Gardens are a wonderful mix of old and new featuring traditional heritage gardens as well as the contemporary and waterwise 21st Century garden. The gardens were established in 1851 and as such feature fabulous mature trees, including some rare and exotic. Within the 17 acre space there are rose gardens, shaded lawn areas perfect for picnics, a teahouse. There are also regular guided walks exploring different aspects of the gardens and special interest areas.

Jerringot Wetlands Geelong

Jerringot Wetland is a freshwater marsh within Belmont Common and is part of the Barwon River's natural floodplain. It is a surprising sanctuary for wildlife within an urban setting. Over 120 species of birds visit or live at Jerringot through the year. The internationally significant Latham’s Snipe fly 20,000km from Japan to south eastern Australia and can be found in good numbers during spring and summer. Other significant species include the Australian Shoveler, Hardhead, Baillion’s Crake, Cattle Egret, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Great Egret. It is an excellent habitat for frogs, including the endangered Growling Grass Frog. Native fish such as Common and Spotted Galaxias and the rare Australian mudfish find a home in the waters as well as many aquatic plant species. River Red Gum, River Bottlebrush and Teatree, as well as thickets of Tangled Lignum fringe the river side of the wetland.

Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens

The Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens were founded in 1985 as a not-for-profit community organisation to support the beautiful Geelong Botanic Gardens. The FGBG support and celebrate the Geelong Botanic Gardens as a place for plants and people, discovery and learning, ideas and innovation, engagement and pride, conservation, environment and quiet contemplation. The FGBG also provide a range of on-site activities for the members as well as the public;these include the 'Growing Friends Nursery' open every Wednesday from 9.30 am until 12.30 pm at the rear of the Geelong Botanic Gardens and seasonal weekend plant sales. Guided walks in the Gardens through their Discovery walk series including free guided walks on Wednesdays at 11am and Sundays at 2pm. Meet your guide at the front steps of the gardens. Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens have a year round program of events and activities for both members and the public. Maintenance of the Perennial Border and Rose Garden, Growers Nursery and Botanic Art Classes. FGBG provide financial support to the Geelong Botanic Gardens, refer to the FGBG website in the achievements section for a comprehensive list of supported projects. Please subscribe to the Friends' 'Jubaea' quarterly newsletter for more information about what's happening at the Geelong Botanic gardens by visiting their website.

You Yangs

Rising from the flat, volcanic plains between Geelong and Melbourne, the granite peaks of the You Yangs are a terrific destination for many outdoor activities. Walk to Flinders Peak for panoramic views of Geelong, Corio Bay, the Western Districts and beyond. There are several walking tracks within the park catering for varying abilities. The You Yangs are popular for mountain biking; the two designated mountain bike areas offer 50km of track. The park is also popular for rock climbing, abseiling and horse riding and there are BBQ and picnic areas available, as well as toilets.

Barwon Heads Bluff

The tidal flows at the mouth of the Barwon River have created an amazing landscape at the Barwon Heads Bluff. It is one of the best spots in the region to observe marine life in rockpools. More than 90% of the creatures found at the Bluff are only found in Southern Australia and nowhere else in the world. The Bluff has an enormous diversity of seaweeds from tiny encrusting pink coralline algae to mighty forests of giant and bull kelps. There are many different species of fish, snails, seastars, and other invertebrates that all make the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary their home. The high lookout at the bluff has views towards Port Phillip Heads to the east and along the Surf Coast to the West.

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

Located near the mouth of Barwon River, Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary protects 17ha of predominately composed of reef. The eastern half of the reef is basalt, formed from lava flow, and is exposed to the flow of the river. The western side is old sandstone and influenced by ocean swell. On the outer edges of the reef are the wrecks of two ships. The variation in conditions across the reef results in the presence of a huge diversity of plants and animals. Visitors can see anything from feather stars and barnacles to rock lobsters, rays and schools of fish. Bull Kelp, sandstone arches and sponge gardens create a fascinating and complex underwater world. Before you go Conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.


The Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on five acres of land on the Northern edge of Barwon Heads. Jirrahlinga, Aboriginal for 'Seek a home for a kangaroo', was established more than 30 years ago by Tehree Gordon to be a haven for injured wildlife. Following the Ash Wednesday Bush fires in 1983, Jirrahlinga received national and international media coverage acclaiming the rescue mission launched to seek out and treat shocked and burnt animals. However, Jirrahlinga is not just for distressed native animals, it is primarily about people. Particularly people who have a disability, a special need, the frail or the aged. What better therapy could there be than to come into a supportive environment to work quietly with animals or just visit and touch a koala or joey that do not place demands on a person's physical or mental capacities.


Searoad Ferries connects the Great Ocean Road and the Bellarine to the Mornington Peninsula, the 40 minute crossing is a stress free alternative to driving through the city. Two specially designed all weather 60 metre ferries have easy drive on/drive off facilities, spacious comfortable lounges with full-length windows, a tempting cafe and plenty of deck space. Watch out for dolphins, whales in winter and enormous ships as you breathe incredibly fresh air. Arriving at Sorrento, you will have a perfect view of multi-million dollar mansions sitting atop cliffs, tiny coves filled with boats, the beautiful foreshore and old limestone buildings. Whether you are going home or on a journey far away, there's no better way to see the bay than with Searoad Ferries. Passengers with vehicles are advised to arrive at the terminals at least 20 minutes prior to departure. The ferries depart from Queenscliff Harbour, Queenscliff and the Sorrento Pier, Sorrento. Special Features on the 40 minute journey are the unparalleled views of historic lighthouses, the Point Nepean fortifications, navigational features, seals and dolphins are available from the comfortable lounge areas, cafe style seating or numerous observation decks. Both vessels are fully equipped to cater for passengers with disabilities, including an internal lift from the vehicle deck to the passenger lounge. Coaches may be booked ahead. Seven days notice is advisable to secure passage.

The Surf Coast Walk

Whether you're a nature lover or a fun lover, whether you take an hour, a day or a week, the Surf Coast Walk puts a stunning and unique coastal environment within easy reach. - Offering natural beauty and easy access - A world-class walking destination for all to enjoy - On the edge of the stunning Great Ocean Road - Do a section or do it all; at your own pace - More than a walk, over half the track is suitable for bikes Relish the rich ochre of the Bells Beach cliffs, the deep blue of Bass Strait and the leafy green of eucalypt forects. Discover traditional Wathaurung country, fascinating surf culture and abundant wildlife as the walk connects you with the coastal town comforts of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.

Auswalk Walking Holidays

Come and experience the real Australia on foot with Auswalk Walking Holidays. Do not watch it pass you by from the windows of a vehicle, get out there and be a part of it! Auswalk Walking Holidays offer guided groups of like-minded people day hikes in fabulous national parks. There are two guides looking after each group, so you will have a choice of easy or hard walks each day. At night stay in comfortable accommodations and enjoy good food and wine. Auswalk Walking Holidays also have self-guided walks through superb National Parks from one accommodation to the next. Walk with your own group of two or more people and start any day of the year. You will be supported along the way with luggage transfers, marked maps and detailed walk notes. Auswalk Walking Holidays can customise a trip for you, your club, group of friends or family. Victorian destinations include the Grampians as it is the best place to see native animals in the wild. There is a rich indigenous history as well as challenging hiking to magnificent rocky peaks. Another great destination is Great Alpine Walk, traverse Victoria's high country, staying overnight in secluded alpine villages. Great Ocean Walk is a long time favourite, this iconic track hugs the southern ocean in parts and ventures inland into the mighty forests of the Otway Ranges. You will see kangaroos while on the track. Great South West Walk is a perfect choice for those who enjoy walking long distances on easy terrain. Highlights include the Glenelg River Gorge and the Three Capes section. Other destinations around the country include the Flinders Ranges, Snowy Mountains and many other beautiful national parks around Australia. Please enquire with Auswalk Walking Holidays for more information.

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Packages & Offers

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.

Autumn Walk at Otway Fly Treetop Walk

Zip down to Otway Fly for the ultimate Treetop Adventure this Autumn and take advantage of this exclusive offer.

Family Escape at BIG 4 Port Fairy Holiday Park

Stay in a Fully Self Contained 2 bedroom cabin $129.00 per night for a family of 4!

Family Fun at Belfast Cove Holiday Park, Port Fairy

Family Fun at Belfast Cove Holiday Park, Port Fairy for Four $109 per night!

Couples Escape at Belfast Cove Holiday Park, Port Fairy

Come and stay in a Deluxe One Bedroom Cabin for 2 nights and receive 50% off your third night.

Experience the spectacular Great Ocean Road and Heritage Centre

Enjoy overnight accommodation in a one bedroom garden view apartment at Cumberland starting at $171 per night.

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.
Enjoy table service in elegant surroundings, exquisite food, quality tea and real coffee!

$40.00 per person and includes immediate return travel on the same ferry for a leisurely experience.

Every Sunday from February to November
12pm sailing from Sorrento
3pm sailing from Queenscliff.

To book visit or contact 03 5258 3244


Autumn Walk at Otway Fly Treetop Walk

Zip down to Otway Fly for the ultimate Treetop Adventure this Autumn and take advantage of this exclusive offer, of 20% discount on adult or child treetop walk ticket and receive a complimentary coffee or warm drink from the Black Snail Café.

Simply present this voucher on-site at Otway Fly to redeem your Autumn Walk offer.


Family Escape at BIG 4 Port Fairy Holiday Park

Stay in a Fully Self Contained 2 bedroom cabin $129.00 per night for a family of 4! (Standard price $210.00 per night)

  • 2 Bedroom Family cabin
  • Valid for stays between May 15 and September 15 ($20.00 per night surcharge applies for Queens birthday weekend.)
  • Additional $20.00 per night for additional people.
  • 2 night minimum stay.
  • No further discounts apply.
  • Subject to availability.

Call (03) 5568 1145 to book


Family Fun at Belfast Cove Holiday Park, Port Fairy

Stay in a fully self-contained Two Bedroom Holiday Unit and enjoy full access to the parks indoor heated pool, giant jumping pillow, playground, tennis court & giant outdoor chess.

  • Valid Sun - Thur only. An additional charge of $15 per night for bookings made on Fri & Sat nights
  • Two night minimum stay. Available June 27th - July 18th 2015
  • Price includes 2 Adults & 2 Children - Additional guests $15 each per night

Call (03) 5568 1816 to book


Couples Escape at Belfast Cove Holiday Park, Port Fairy

Come and stay in a Deluxe One Bedroom Cabin for 2 nights and receive 50% off your third night.

  • Includes a late check out of 12pm, two delicious latte vouchers and a packet of Tim Tams
  • Available to book from April 7th - June 4th 2015

Call (03) 5568 1816 to book


Experience the spectacular Great Ocean Road and Heritage Centre

Enjoy overnight accommodation in a one bedroom garden view apartment at Cumberland starting at $171 per night. Each apartment features a spacious lounge and dining area, private balcony, large bathroom with corner spa. Accommodation includes complimentary use of Resort facilities, including indoor heated pool and undercover car parking. Quoted rate is based on one bedroom garden view apartments, available 7th April – 30thof May Sunday – Friday.

To book phone: (03) 5289 4444