Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, Victoria

Tower Hill, Victoria 3283

Tower Hill can be found in Victoria, to the west of Warrnambool.

Tower Hill

Home to an abundance of flora and fauna, Tower Hill is one of the most beautiful natural reserves in the region. As well as peaceful, picturesque surroundings, it also boasts fascinating geological formations and a tonne of local Aboriginal history. These aspects combined create a fascinating landscape that draws in thousands of visitors every year.

The Crater of Tower Hill

Tower Hill itself is characterised by a huge volcanic crater that is edged by surreal beds of volcanic ash. All around the crater, conical hills thrust upwards from the boggy ground which, when it’s particularly wet, form islands that jut out of a shallow, swampy lake.

It’s inside the crater where all the magic happens, though. The conical hills connect together to create a popular wildlife reserve which is home to large populations of native birds and other critters. Here, you can expect to see koalas, kangaroos, emus, water birds, and other fascinating creatures.

The Origins of Tower Hill and Post- European Settlement

At the heart of the reserve, the visitor centre provides a modern scene amongst the ancient landscape. Designed by Robin Boyd, it is run by Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative and houses a collection of aboriginal arts and crafts which you can pick up as a souvenir.

The history of Tower Hill is fascinating. The extinct volcano is thought to date back 30,000 years, but it wasn’t until 1892 that the area was declared a National Park – Victoria’s first. . However, there was a lot of work to be done to bring the park back to its original status. When the Europeans arrived in the area, the vegetation was removed to make way for farming and quarrying. In 1961, a major re-vegetation program is introduced into to the park with the main reference being a painting done by Eugene Von Guerard in 1855 of the layout of the park before it was cleared out. After the park was rejuvenated, native plants and animals such as kangaroos, wallabies and possums returned to the land and today, Victoria’s first national park is a thriving environment protected by the traditional owners of the land and the local government.

The plethora of animal species and the stunning backdrop mean it’s the perfect place for visitors to enjoy the Australian bush and learn more about the indigenous and natural history of the region.

Wildlife at the Tower Hill Reserve

Kangaroos in the Tower Hill

But it’s probably the wildlife that beckons most visitors. With over 300,000 trees providing habitats for all manner of species, it really is an animal-lover’s dream. Tower Hill is home to more than 200 native kangaroos and koalas, many of which live around the hiking routes and the visitor’s centre, and there are plenty of wallabies, echidnas, and seasonal reptiles to discover, too. The layout of the reserve and its dedication to conservation means you can easily get up close and personal with these critters in their natural habitat.

Guided Tours

As well as animal spotting, visitors can also get stuck into the hikes and guided tours that leave from the visitor’s centre every day. On these walks, there is plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, enjoy picnics and barbecues, and marvel at the spectacular views from up on the crater. These tours are guided by a local who each have their own interests in relation to the park. Over a 90-minute period, the tour which is personalised and run different depending on the guide, will have you learning about the history of the park, the wildlife and how native plants were used by the Indigenous Australians for medicinal purposes.

Self- Guided Walks

You have a couple options on how to explore the reserve but ultimately, it’s all about what interests you the most. There are 4 self-guided walks to choose from depending on what you want to see, whether it be the natural scenery or the wildlife.

  • Peak Climb: This steep walking trail is a 30-minute return circuit of around 1.5 kilometres. Once you reach the top of the Yatt Mirng Crater, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the entire park.
  • Wagon Bay Loop: This walk is the gentlest of them all. It’s a predominantly flat trail with only some steps to climb. The track takes around 30 minutes to complete and is a 1.5-kilometre circuit. The walk circles Wagon Bay pond where different bird types are visible around the water.
  • Lava Tongue Boardwalk: Over 1.6 kilometres, this trail is perfect for those who want to explore some of the wildlife at the reserve. You have the opportunity to spot koalas, birds and echidnas. The walk crosses through to Fairy Island but not before it traverses an outcrop of an ancient lava flow.
  • Journey to the Last Volcano: This is the longest and most demanding of the walks as there are some steep walks. The circuit takes an hour to complete and spans a distance of 1.9 kilometres.

The Nearby Town of Port Fairy

Port Fairy is only 20 minutes away from Tower Hill Reserve and should definitely be a stop to make if you’re in the area. It’s a cosy coastal town known for its trade in fishing, and the last stop on the Shipwreck Coast. Heritage is an important factor in this town with many of the buildings being made out of stone, and lots of 19th centuries cottages to look at. Port Fairy is also home to one of the largest folk festivals in Australia, with the local art and music scene thriving. If there’s a golf lover travelling in your group, this unassuming town also boasts one of Australia’s best golf courses.

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