One of the most surprising discoveries about Melbourne is that it is surrounded by breathtaking natural attractions and a litany of Australia's most fascinating creatures. Janine Duffy from Echidna Walkabout – Wildlife and Nature Tours is happy to give you the down-low on where to go.
Firstly, 'Melbourne and Victoria have the best wildlife scene in Australia, and one of the best in the world. We have all the icons: Kangaroos, koalas, wombats, platypus, echidnas, cockatoos, kookaburras, emus, penguins.'
Janine's also keen to promote the lesser-known characters of the Aussie bush that can be found close to Melbourne, like the enigmatic lyrebird, the goanna/lace monitor, the enormous wedge-tailed eagle, grey-headed flying-foxes, plus 33 species of parrot and 143 species of butterfly.
It doesn't stop there, either. 'In the sea we have the blue whale, the largest creature that has ever lived, plus dolphins, seals, orcas, albatrosses, sea-dragons and sea-horses!'
Melbourne and Victoria are unique in being home to creatures of the tropical seas, Antarctic species, animals from the desert, and those from the cool rainforests. The state's compact size means you can see the diverse animals in their varied habitats in as little as half a day, and many can be seen in Melbourne's city centre or on an organised day trip.