Sitting within the grounds of a 30,000-year-old extinct volcano the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is home to some of Australia’s most iconic creatures endemic to the region – namely koalas, emus, kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies and more. It was a shame we had to rush our visit to less than 30 minutes (coz we had to arrive back in Melbourne to send off some members of the media to the airport), but even then we were lucky enough to spot not one but TWO types of the unique fauna that roam the reserve.
Unfortunately the short time we had meant I didn’t manage to get too many pictures. 😦
As we drove slowly past a section of bush, an eagle-eyed member of the group called out to everyone in the van. “Look, in the bushes.” We craned our necks forward and there, sleeping peacefully on the branch, was our first koala. It looked sooooo fluffy! But while they seem all cute and cuddly, koalas are known to have sharp claws (for climbing trees) and teeth. Another fun fact: koalas are not the brightest; their brains making up just 0.2% of the weight of their body.
Near the visitor’s centre, there were several more up in the trees – a smaller one, presumably female, and a larger one at the bottom. They weren’t doing much; just lazing up in the trees, but I guess there isn’t much to do except eat, sleep and watch tourists gawk at you all day.
After a quick sojourn to the souvenir shop, we were all ready to leave – but not before one more surprise. As we drove to the exit, the van slowed down and we saw this guy (or gal?). Emus are the second largest living birds after the ostrich, and like their cousins, can run very fast and have large claws on their feet (I always think of them as modern dinosaurs). We quickly whipped out our phones for a picture, the emu leisurely strolling along the tarmac before ducking out of sight into one of the bushes.
Fun fact: Emus cannot walk backwards.
If you’re planning a visit to the Great Ocean Road, I highly suggest spending more time than we did so you can explore the place more fully. There are various picnic spots and facilities scattered around the park, as well as guided walking tours. Of course, as with any wildlife reserve, observe the rules when interacting with any animals you may encounter.