How to spot the best wildlife along the Great Ocean Road

How to spot the best wildlife along the Great Ocean Road

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 09/12/2019

Reading time: 4 mins

It’s not just tourists hanging out along the Great Ocean Road, sharing the area are hundreds of native animal species, some of which can hardly be found anywhere else in the world! Whether you’re a keen twitcher, hopeful whale watcher, or searching for the most iconic of Australia’s wildlife, the Great Ocean Road is a nature-lover’s dream.

The 243km stretch of the Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations, with visitors flocking to see the incredible views, staggering rock formations, and beautiful beaches. Many also come to search for the cutest of Australia’s native species, the koala, but there are so many other incredible creatures to see. Not sure what to look for or where to find it? Well, we’ve got everything you need to know, right here!

  • Koalas


    Naturally, koalas are first on our list. The Great Ocean Road is one of the only places in Australia where you can find these cute bundles of fluff and you’ll be happy to know that your chances of seeing one are high. Travel to the Kennett River and gaze into the gum trees that flank the Grey River Road. Amongst the eucalyptus branches, you may spot a distinct lump nestled between them, a sleeping koala! Due to their eucalyptus leaf diet being so low in nutrients, they spend up to 20 hours a day asleep. So. if you see one awake, count yourself lucky!

    Koalas can also be seen in the trees at Cape Otway as you head towards its lightstation. Interestingly, the lightstation also provides an opportunity to see other awesome animals, whales.

  • Whales

    During the winter months, though the weather is cooler, the conditions are perfect for southern right whales. Around 10,000 of these whales gather here to breed and raise their young as they travel from the Antarctic to the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. Distinguished by their dark grey and white colouring and their lack of dorsal fin, they can often be spotted from the raised lookouts along the Great Ocean Road.

    Keen whale watchers may also be treated to a sighting of a humpback whale during winter or even a blue whale in summer. Keep an eye on local reports to be in with your best chance of spotting one.

  • Kangaroos and Wallabies


    Look out for not one, but two types of wallaby on the Great Ocean Road! Distinguished by their grey bodies and reddish-brown ears and stomach, swamp wallabies can be spotted in amongst the trees of the Otways and occasionally in open woodland. Red-necked wallabies, however, have more red and grey colouring and are slightly harder to find. Look out for them in grasslands close to forests, particularly in the morning and evenings.

    Easier to spot along this incredible stretch of road are the eastern grey kangaroos. With their pale bellies and grey backs, they can be spied in the grasslands close to forests. Look out for them in the mornings and evenings as they hop across the open fields and cross the roads to find the next best grazing patch.

  • Birds

    You won’t be surprised to hear that the Great Ocean Road is home to many amazing birds. Listen for the distinctive laugh of the kookaburra, the flash of colour from a parrot and the beautiful swoop of a welcome swallow. If you’d like to get up close and personal with some of the birdlife then you can feed the king parrots at the Kennett River where you’ll end up with more than a bird in the hand, you’ll also have one on your head!  Keep an eye out for penguins at the 12 Apostles and the blue head of the fairy wren amongst the shrubs before the night draws in and you hear the unique ‘boo-book’ of the boobook owl.

Though famed for its incredible coastline, the Great Ocean Road also offers incredible chances to glimpse its wild inhabitants. What better way to explore this picturesque landscape than by turning the journey into a thrilling safari?

Related article: Wildlife Spotting at the Otway Ranges

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.