Melbourne, the capital city of the Australian State of Victoria was awarded as the ‘world’s most liveable city’ for the seventh consecutive year and it is not hard to see why. With its cosmopolitan city life, gorgeous beaches, botanical gardens, art lanes and the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne and its surrounds offer plenty of immersive experiences for all kinds of travellers. It is also a great place to begin exploring the unique wildlife of Australia as there are several nature parks, wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and aquariums in and around the city. You will have a chance to catch a glimpse of penguins, seals, koalas, kangaroos, platypus, wombats and several other rare creatures when you travel to Melbourne.
Here is a list of top wildlife experiences that you just can't miss in and around Melbourne:
Enjoy the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park
Phillip Island Nature Park is located 90 minutes away from the city of Melbourne and home to the world famous penguin parade. Line the observation boardwalks at Phillip Island Nature Park at dusk to see the little penguins race up Summerland Beach to their burrows. Not only this, you will have a chance to go on a virtual tour of Antarctica at the Nobbies Centre with the help of augmented reality technology, you will be able to pat a penguin or stroke a seal. You can find out more about Phillip Island Nature Park here.
Click a selfie with a Koala at the Koala Conservation Centre
Located at Phillip Island, only 90 minutes away from Melbourne is the Koala Conservation Centre. It’s a fantastic place to spend time with koalas in their natural habitat. You can take an observant stroll on the two elevated boardwalks as koalas go about their daily business of sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more and marvel at the laugh of kookaburras and enjoy the abundant bird life as you wander through the natural Australian bushland. One can also spot other animals like wallabies, echidnas, and bats in these woodlands. Opening hours of the Conservation Centre are from 10 am to 5 pm daily. Read more about Koala Conservation Centre here.
Feed a Kangaroo at Maru Koala and Animal Park
Come, hand feed and pat the koalas, kangaroos and wallabies at Maru Koala and Animal Park at Grantville, located an hour away from Melbourne. You can join the hourly tours inside the koala enclosure for a close encounter experience or enjoy Pirate Pete's mini-golf adventure. Opening hours are from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily. Find out more about Maru Koala and Animal Park here.
Meet Super Croc 'Crunch' at Ballarat Wildlife Park
Experience close contact with koalas, wombats, kangaroos, little penguins and even crocodiles at Ballarat Wildlife Park near Melbourne. Spot the rare Tasmanian Devils and their beautiful Southern Cassowary, Xena too. The five-metre long Super Croc called 'Crunch' is the centre of attraction in the park. Visitors can attend his daily feeding and make memories worth a lifetime. The opening hours of the park are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. You can get more information here.
Discover the largest fur seal colony at Phillip Island Nature Park
Get acquainted with Australia's largest fur seal colony on a Wild Ocean EcoBoat Tour at Phillip Island Nature Park 90 minutes away from Melbourne. Take the express tour to get up close to the seals or extend the thrills on a 90-minute tour to the Seal Rocks, the explosive Nobbies blowhole and the rugged cliffs. You can check the EcoBoat tour schedule here and find out more about Phillip Island Nature Park here.
Tickle the tummy of a platypus at Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary at Yarra Valley near Melbourne is one of the best places to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. You can have close-up encounters with some the world's rarest animals like koalas, kangaroos, wombats, emus, dingoes and many more. One can also enjoy the world-first interactive Platypus show here. You can visit the Sanctuary from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Read more about Healesville Sanctuary here.
Observe nocturnal animals at the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
The Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park is located only a 50 minutes drive from Melbourne. It is home to over 60 Australian species. Meet critically endangered orange-bellied parrots and regent honeyeaters and cuddle up to koalas, feed kangaroos and wallabies as they are free to roam through the bush, giving visitors a chance of the rare natural encounter. Colourful parrots and several waterbirds feel at home in extensive wetlands of the park. At night you can join the world-famous lantern-lit tours to observe the activity of nocturnal animals like owls, quolls, pademelons and other night birds. The Sanctuary is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Learn more about the experiences here.
Observe the iconic Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and other exotic animals from around the world at Melbourne Zoo
Just five minutes away from the city centre, you can discover more than 320 species of animals in their natural setting at the Melbourne Zoo. It is also home to the much sought after Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and stroll through the lush Asian and African rainforests, Australian bushland and even dive underwater. See tigers as they roam, explore the trail of elephants, and witnesses other rare animals like koalas, kangaroos, wombats, Orangutans and emus and more. You can also see the Victoria's iconic Little Penguins and Australian Fur Seal in the zoo's underwater world. Opening hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Learn more about Melbourne Zoo here.
Discover 11 zones of SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals. One can enjoy interactive animal encounters, state of the art displays and animal feeds here. There are 11 zones that you can experience; the stunning Croc Lair exhibit, Bay of Rays, Seahorse Pier, Penguin Playground, and many more. Also, newly launched Ancient Oceans exhibit will allow you to get close to some remarkable animals that have lived for millions of years. You can visit the aquarium from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Find out more about Melbourne Aquarium here.
In association with Visit Melbourne.