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Overview

Janine Duffy, Echidna Walkabout Tours

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.

Favourite animals

Janine's special place

Tips from the experts

'There's something special about meeting a wild koala that has a name and has been researched since it was a baby in the You Yangs Regional Park,' Janine enthuses. It's also a joy to see wild brushtail possums in city parks, and to watch hundreds of rainbow lorikeets converge on their roost tree at sunset. The ultimate is 'sneaking up on a wild mob of kangaroos and watching the way mothers interact with their babies.'

According to Janine, the best way to see all this is to go out with her! 'Travelling with a wildlife specialist/naturalist guide is the best way to not only see the wildlife, but understand them and sometimes get close to them.'

Janine's biggest insider tip for discovering Melbourne's nature and wildlife is to buck the trend and come in winter.

'Winter is a great time to be here! It's not really cold, and our wildlife is more active in winter than in summer. Try to get up early and go for walks, wherever you are staying (even in the city). Most of our wildlife is crepuscular - dawn and dusk active - so you'll see more in the hours when everyone else is having breakfast or dinner!'

Finally, Janine insists that you 'take a sandwich anywhere you go! You don't want to stop looking at amazing wildlife just to eat!'

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Discover

Janine's wildlife hotspots

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Meet koalas, emus, kangaroos and many bird species roaming freely in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.

Koala Conservation Centre

Wander through the tree-top boardwalks and see koalas up close in their natural habitat.

East Gippsland

<p>'Start at Orbost and go east to Mallacoota - you will be exploring Australia's richest wildlife region. East Gippsland has half Australia's birds and 60 per cent of Australia's large mammals, plus it's a tranquil, beautiful place with few people and lots of wilderness.'</p>

Healesville Sanctuary

Watch for waking koalas and marvel at bounding kangaroos, and observe vets in the animal hospital.

Melbourne

<p>'Within two hours you can see most of our famous Aussie creatures.'</p>

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park

Cuddle koalas and feed kangaroos at this award-winning ecotourism park set in beautiful bushland.

Phillip Island Nature Parks

See little penguins every day of the year, peek into burrows, and spot other Australian animals.

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