The Best of Aussie Wildlife in Southern Australia
There's a reason the Australian national symbol is a kangaroo; home to a huge numbers of this weird and wonderful creature, Australia is one of the best wildlife destinations in the world. See for yourself as you visit Melbourne, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island over the course of this 15-day itinerary.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Watch penguins parading up the beach on Phillip Island
- Go on quoll patrol and discover some of Tasmania's nocturnal wildlife near Launceston
- Roam with the 'roos (and a whole heap of other wonderful wildlife) on Kangaroo Island
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Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne
When you land on Australian soil you'll be glad to find one of our friendly team members waiting for you at arrivals.
Let them grab your bags and escort you to the car for the half-an-hour journey into the city centre and your hotel. Then, consult our detailed destination Dossier for a few hints on the hip, happening places to eat in town and enjoy a first meal on Aussie soil.
Day 2: Meandering in Melbourne
Australia's capital of cool, Melbourne is a great place to begin your Australian adventure.
Treat yourselves to a lie in this morning before exploring the city's wildlife, most notably the greater spotted hipster. From the quirky laneways and street art covered backstreets of Fitzroy to the buzzing bars and restaurants along the South Bank there is always something going on in Melbourne and it's the perfect place to let jet lag fade away as you acclimatise to life down under.
This evening, meet your food blogger guide for a stroll through the city to three of its best restaurants. During the course of the evening you'll taste numerous samples which will be paired with fine wines and served by the expert chefs. In a city that's famed for its food, this is a real opportunity to taste world class cuisine in the company of seriously passionate foodies.
Day 3: Koalas & Kangaroos
The first of your wildlife encounters begins today as you embark on a full day trip out of the city to the nearby You Yangs and Serendip National Parks.
Despite being just 45 minutes south of the city you'll feel a world away when you arrive in the You Yangs bushland and start spotting koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and bird species aplenty in their natural habitat. With your expert and experienced guide on hand you'll also be treated to titbits of information on each of the species (and often individual beasties, since the guides know the animals so well) that you spot.
As well as wildlife encounters that fill your camera with shots, you'll be introduced to the aboriginal history in the area and can digest what you've learnt over a picnic lunch under the gum trees. Afterwards, move on to the Serendip, which is a popular home for big mobs of kangaroos. The sight of wild kangaroos gracefully hopping past you is a magical experienced but bettered when an emu wanders past too. Then it's back to Melbourne in time for dinner in the city.
Day 4: Phillip Island
Two hours south east of Melbourne and just across the bay from Mornington Peninsula is the penguin hotspot of Phillip Island.
Leave Melbourne behind again this morning and head out with a guide to see the rugged beaches and rock pools that make up the island landscape. Later in the day, make your way over to Summerland Beach to watch the famous penguin parade. As the name suggests this involves thousands of fairy penguins making their way ashore to nest. This evening activity attracts a large crowd, but you'll be taken to a special viewing spot away from the throngs of people.
Watch the little guys waddling up the beach and snap plenty of photographs before leaving them to it and making your way to dinner. Enjoy a casual meal at a seaside restaurant and then head back to Melbourne for your last night.
Day 5: To Tasmania
Part two of your wildlife odyssey begins today as you leave Melbourne for Tasmania, and more specifically, Launceston.
You'll be transferred to the airport in Melbourne early this morning where you can catch a direct, hour-long flight to Launceston. You'll then be able to pick up your hire car and drive to your new hotel.
After a few hours free to explore and eat lunch, meet back at your hotel for an evening introduction to Tasmania's wildlife. Set off in a 4x4 with your guide to a remote location in the lush bush. Here you'll be taken on a guided tour, looking to spot forester kangaroos, brush-tail possums, eastern quolls, wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons at close range. There will also be a stop for a genuine Aussie barbeque (shrimps optional). With dusk approaching, more animals come out to play and give you a taste of nocturnal bush wildlife, before you head back to Launceston for the night.
Day 6: Up in the Trees
Just outside of Launceston is an abundance of lush Tasmanian forest, just waiting to be explored.
Set off on a zip wire adventure through the treetops this morning, flying between tree platforms, speeding through the foliage and enjoying views across to the Pipers River as you go. Your guides will also fill you in on the unique ecology of the area and introduce you to any bird species you see in the canopy with you.
Return to solid ground after a few hours and then spend the rest of today exploring Launceston itself.
Day 7: To Cradle Mountain
Start your Tasmanian road trip today as you leave Launceston and drive towards Cradle Mountain. The total drive time is around two hours, but you'll pass through some seriously beautiful scenery, so allow extra time for scenic stops.
When you do arrive, the afternoon is yours to spend as you please, but we suspect the possibility of a walk through the dramatic mountain scenery past still blue lakes and grassy highlands will prove irresistible. A well-earned dinner will be waiting back at your hotel, before the chance to stargaze under a clear night sky with zero light pollution.
Day 8: Dining with Devils
Spend another day exploring the vast open spaces and lush landscapes in the Cradle Mountain region today. Start by heading out on one of the numerous walking trails near your hotel where you'll traverse the varied terrain and start to get your bearings. Afterwards there are a number of activities available, such as riding, quad biking and fishing, or you can simply relax and enjoy the views with a picnic lunch.
This evening, hop in the car and make your way to a dedicated Tasmanian devil sanctuary nearby that is widely recognised as the best on the island. Here you'll spend an evening with the keepers, learning about the devils and meandering through the sanctuary while enjoying regular stops for dinner. As the light fully drops you'll finish the night by roasting marshmallows on the campfire to the soundtrack of devils calling to each other in the trees.
Day 9: To Hobart
It's back on the road today as you head for your final Tasmanian stop, Hobart, the capital. The drive is a good four hours, so set off early and make sure you enjoy the views - you'll be passing the Great Lake Conservation Area on your way so there are plenty of scenic places to stop and stretch en route, too.
Arriving in the city at around midday, head to the waterfront for a meal and then enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore.
- Let us pre-book MONA tickets for you and enjoy the thought provoking modern art in this iconic building
- Visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
- If you're visiting on a Saturday or Sunday, hit the Salamanca & Farm Gate Markets for some tasty local produce
Day 10: To Adelaide
Leave Tasmania behind today as you drive to Hobart airport, drop your hire car off and then catch a three-hour flight to Adelaide.
Once there you'll be collected and taken to your hotel where you can drop your bags before spending a short but sweet afternoon and evening enjoying the city. Known as the '20-minute city' because all the main attractions are so accessible, Adelaide is an easy city to get around so you should be able to happily while away the afternoon. We can recommend a restaurant or two for dinner.
Day 11: To Kangaroo Island
After a flying visit to Adelaide it's back to the airport for your flight to Kangaroo Island this morning. The flight is just 35 minutes long so you'll be there and meeting one of our team before you know it.
Your first day exploring the island then begins as you're met at your hotel by your guide for the next four days. There will be a brief outline of your adventures to come and then you'll set off in a 4x4 to start sightseeing. Stop number one is Seal Bay, where you'll find sea lions lounging on the rocks and waves crashing against the rugged shoreline. After snapping a few shots, move on to the sand dunes at Little Sahara, then feed orphaned animals at Parndana Wildlife Park before finishing up with a stroll along Stokes Bay.
Throughout the day keep your eyes peeled for wandering wildlife including, of course, kangaroos.
Day 12: Wilderness Wildscapes
Day two of your adventures on Kangaroo Island begin with Flinders Chase National Park. One of the most wildlife packed areas on the island, The Chase is home to all manner of animals including kangaroos, geese, seals and echidnae.
Start exploring at Admirals Arch, which overlooks the ocean and is a popular hangout for New Zealand fur seals, then move on to Remarkable Rocks, where the waves have formed the limestone landscape into sculpture like structures.
As a break from walking and exploring, stop for steaks on the barbie, which will be accompanied by cool drinks and stunning views. Then, spend the afternoon at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Covering 9,500 acres of protected land there are numerous spots to discover here, including the turquoise waters of Vivonne Bay and the shell-strewn beach at Point Ellen. There's also an abundance of koalas around the sanctuary so keep an eye on the trees.
Dinner will then be back at your hotel.
Day 13: Culinary Kangaroo Island
Rather than focusing on wildlife and scenery, today you'll experience a little of the growing culinary scene on Kangaroo Island. That said, you will start the day with a visit to American River where you'll be on the lookout for pelicans and cockatoos as you stroll along the ocean's edge.
Having by now worked up an appetite, call into Sunset Winery for an expert led wine tasting, and then enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch (complete with rare roast beef and fresh salads) on the banks of the Chapman River.
Post lunch, visit Cape Willoughby and climb to the top of the oldest lighthouse in South Australia, and then get back to the foodie fun with a visit to Clifford's Honey Farm. As the day draws to a close, sit on the rocks in the capital, Kingscote, and watch pelicans soar overhead.
Day 14: Deep in the Wilderness
Today you will see a side to Kangaroo Island that many miss as your guide takes you deep into the north west wilderness. Here you'll trek through thick bushland in the Ravine de Casoars to discover hidden caves where shipwrecked sailors from bygone centuries supposedly survived.
Lunch is at Cape Borda Lighthouse and offers stunning coastal views. Then, finish your afternoon back in the Flinders Chase National Park where your guide will take you in search of the ever-elusive platypus - one of the world's weirder animals.
Back at your hotel this evening, toast the end of a fantastic few days on Kangaroo Island, and the end of a fantastic holiday in Australia.
Day 15: Home Time
Begin the journey home today as you're transferred to Kangaroo Island airport to catch the domestic flight back to Adelaide, where you can then connect onto your international flights.
Frances is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.