Finding Koala’s on Phillip Island

Port Phillip Island Koala in Eucalyptus Tree

Making the trek out to Port Phillip Island is a long one. About a two-hour drive out of Melbourne, the island is home to a host of sights – including a chocolate factory, a Grand Prix track, a maze park, some seals, and a ship wreck – but we were going there for one reason –

“Hurry up Nicole, I want to see a koala!”

No, I didn’t have a child onboard; instead I was driving my British friend, Kat, to have her first experience with Australian wildlife, and it appeared her Australian dream involved seeing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and getting close to a koala.

As time passed on our drive we both got antsy, worrying that we were going to miss out on the Koala Conservation centre and only see the Penguin Parade.
Eventually though we crossed the bridge onto the island, bought our entrance tickets (AU$11.00 for adults and AU$5.50 for kids) and were rushing into the sanctuary in hope of spotting a koala.

Of course Kat spotted one first and her excitement was palpable.


Indeed, perched high in a thick branch in one of the eucalyptus trees was a fluffy grey ball of fur having a nap; and I have to admit that despite being an Australian it’s pretty awesome to see one of our most famous animals up close.

Kat the British tourist seeing her first koala sitting in a Eucalyptus tree on Port Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

To make it easier for visitors to get up close with a koala the conservation centre have specially created some low hanging areas with plenty of leaves for the koalas to sit in, and if particularly low they even have shields which will stop visitors getting to close to the koalas because they do bite and scratch if aggravated.

Koala spotting on Port Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Koala asleep in a tree at Port Phillip Island's Koala conservation centre, Victoria, Australia

Throughout the park we managed to spot around 8 koalas – not a bad feat considering we were only there for around 30 minutes and it was the end of the day; and we also managed to spot a few wallabies which Kat mistook for kangaroos.

Wallaby at the Port Phillip Island Koala conservation centre

Have you gotten up close to koalas or kangaroos?

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Koala Conservation Centre

1790 Phillip Island Road,
Cowes, Victoria, 3922

Website: Koala Conservation Centre

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  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Ahhhh Koala’s are adorable!

    • Reply
      January 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Indeed they are, Hogga! Have you cuddled one?

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Saw my first Koala last week on French Island. So cute;) But the noise they make are so not. We had one in the tree above our tent the whole night and it actually sounded quite scary. Like something between a bear and an angry cow. ..

    • Reply
      January 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

      I agree, Pernilla. They’re a little scary when they make noises. Not sure I’d be able to sleep if I was in your position!

  • Reply
    Beverley | Pack Your Passport
    January 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Aahhhh Koalas are adorable! I love the photo you got of the one close up and curled up, so cute! I held a koala on Magnetic Island in Australia and also got to see them at Billabong Wildlife Park in Port Macquarie – absolutely love it 🙂

    • Reply
      January 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Thanks, Beverley!

      Wow, did you have a nice snuggle up to the koala? I’m a little scared to hold one again because last time I did (when I was 12) it was too heavy for me to carry and it left a giant claw-shaped scratch along my back when the handler tried to pull it away.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Ohhh this brought back fond memories of my time on Phillips Island… of course it rained the whole time and the Koala’s weren’t as visable as they were here… so it’s fabulous to see the pics I wish I could have got lol! Love it xx

    • Reply
      January 16, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Aw no! That would be really annoying since it’s such a long drive.
      Just means you have to come back to Australia soon though, right? 😉

  • Reply
    January 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    We have koalas at Plackendael Zoo in Belgium, but they don’t have such a big living area as where you saw them.

    • Reply
      January 16, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Aw, really?! That’s pretty neat that you have koalas at Plackendael Zoo, Sofie! 🙂

  • Reply
    Michele @ Malaysian Meanders
    January 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    We spent 3 days on Kangaroo Island and saw plenty of wildlife — koalas, seals, NZ sea lions, wallabies and kangaroos. We even saw an albino kangaroo which looked remarkably like a giant rat when it had it’s nose and mouth down by the ground. I didn’t get my wish of seeing a penguin, though.

  • Reply
    Nienke | The Travel Tester
    January 17, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Oh Yes! I remember the first time seeing a koala myself. Running towards it, flapping my arms. Koala!Koala!Koala! That they didn’t remove me from the wildlife park is just lucky. You know what I bought afterwards? A plastic koala nose to put on, hahaha it’s so funny. If only my boyfriend would allow me to wear it 😐

  • Reply
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