Friday, 5 August 2011

Wildlife encountered on tours

Australia has a range of unusual and interesting wildlife many of which we encounter whilst on tour.


One of the most popular is the koala as most tourists are keen to see these cute and cuddly marsupials.
On our tours we observe koalas in their natural environment whilst touring the Great Ocean Road or Great Otway National Park. Sometimes they will climb down out of the trees and wander across the road so care needs to be taken not to injure or kill these amazing animals.

A baby koala is known as a joey and when small is not so cute being hairless, blind and earless. When it is born it crawls into a pouch on its mother's belly and attaches itself to a teat where it feeds on milk for 6 months. During that time its fur, ears and eyes grow. Once outside the pouch the joey will stay close to the mother often riding on her back. Which is an amazing sight to see.

Koala with her joey on the Great Ocean Road

Koalas live in a particular type of gum tree that is also the source of their staple diet.  The eucalyptus leaves they eat are low in protein and are toxic to many creatures. Given this a koala lacks energy and can be virtually motionless for around 16 to 18 hours a day.

The long term future of the koala is threatened due to a number of factors including habitat loss and the impacts of urbanisation. Most Australians would be pretty devastated if we lost these amazing creatures.


The kangaroo is probably one of Australia's most recognised wildlife and is also another marsupial that's popular with tourists.  There are over 60 species of kanagroos and their close relatives which include wallabies, wallaroos, tree-kangaroos and forest wallabies. The larger red kanagroo is found in arid regions and the eastern and western grey Kangaroos are found in great numbers across much of southern part of Australia.

Like the koala a baby kangaroo is called a joey and when born they find their way to their mother's pouch and fasten onto a teat where it remains for about 6 months. The joey then pokes its head in and out for a couple of weeks until it feels safe enough to fully emerge. Over the next 2 months it will still spend some time in the pouch before it becomes self sufficient. 

Kanagroos are herbivorous and eat a range of plants. They use their strong back legs to hop along and their tail provides balance.  Its not true that they jump down the streets of our cities but they can be found close to residential areas in some parts of Australia.


The dingo is a free roaming wild dog found in Outback Australia. Dingo is a European adaption of a name used by Aboriginals in NSW with many other clans calling them by different names.

Dingoes are nocturnal creatures in warmer areas but can roam during the day in colder parts of Australia. They are often observed on their own but in reality live in a social environment with other dingoes.

Often maligned by many our experience is that as long as you take care when close to a dingo, don't offer it food and pack away all your food and belongings at night they pose minimal threat to humans.

This dingo was photographed whilst on tour in the Outback at Glen Helen Gorge.

We're also lucky on some tours to encounter a range of birdlife.

Boobook Owl

The Boobook Owl is a small brown owl found in Australia they hunt mainly in the evenings and early morning and are sometimes active overnight. This owl was captured whilst on tour in the Outback.

Superb fairy wren

The Superb fairy wren is a beautiful bird that is found in Australia. Like many birds the male has bright colouring whilst females are plain fawn.

Little penguins

The most popular spot for viewing the little penguins and the highlight of any visit to the Island is the iconic Penguin Parade. At the Penguin Parade you can watch the little penguins make their way across the beach heading towards their nesting areas after spending their day hunting in the ocean.

Penguin Parade
Tourism Victoria

Once upon a time, you could sit on the beach in the evening and the penguins would wander past quite close to you.  It was an amazing experience, but as crowds grew the need to protect the penguins and their habitat meant viewing platforms and walkways were constructed. Today there are a range of experiences that you can purchase including having a Park Ranger guide you to a private area to view the penguins on the beach (Ultimate Experience) or enjoying the penguins in the comfort of a Sky Box (VIP Experience) where you’ll also have fantastic views across the beach and help the Ranger count the penguins as they return for the night.

For more information see  Phillip Island's Nature Park for more information.

Come join us on a tour and you can experience this wildlife firsthand. Longhorn YOUnique Tours

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