By Catherine Best published with permission from Escape, August 2023
Spotting a koala in the wild can be a rare treat, however sightings are almost guaranteed at this wildlife sanctuary on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
“Can you hear that?”
…guide Johnny Boyd whispers, head tilted, index finger poking the misty dawn air. I strain my ears and it comes: a distant drumming thud. “That’s an emu,” Johnny breathes with the enthusiasm of a palaeontologist who’s just glimpsed a living dinosaur. We stand still, listening, waiting, but the elusive bird is soon eclipsed by koalas. Three of the furry marsupials are curled up in the eucalypts around us – one on a spindly low-hanging twig of a branch that looks in danger of snapping beneath its girth.
The koalas here – in the Otways, along Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road – are special.
They’re bigger, darker and furrier than their northern cousins – with a kind of armour against the cold that comes with living in a habitat fringing Bass Strait. Spying koalas in the wild is a rare treat. But at Wildlife Wonders, a predator-proof sanctuary 5km southwest of Apollo Bay, sightings are almost guaranteed.