Phillip Island’s Koala Reserve is hands down one of the best places to experience Australian wildlife – read on to learn why.
Taken directly from the Phillip Island website ‘Unlike a zoo, the Koala Reserve is really unique as visitors get the chance to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, living as they would in the wild’.
The Koala Reserve does not feel like a zoo at all, really it feels more like a wildlife reserve. Kangaroos, wallabies and emus have free rein nearly anywhere in the park that they want to go. The same places that visitors can go!
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Directions to Koala Reserve
Phillip Island is located about 2 hours outside of the city centre of Melbourne. While it is a decent distance to travel, Phillip Island has a lot of activities and it can easily be made into a full day trip.
To reach Phillip Island from the city, you can follow these instructions from the Phillip Island website: Take the Monash Freeway (M1) to the Cranbourne exit, where you will turn into the South Gippsland Highway (M420).
Follow this route to the Bass Highway (A420), through Grantville and Bass, then onto the Phillip Island Road (B420) to San Remo, over the bridge onto Phillip Island. Buses can also be taken to the island.
Another option that will be easier for some people is to take a day tour from Melbourne.
The Koala Reserve is itself located on the east side of Phillip Island. Once you reach the island it is clearly signposted and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it.
Phillip Island Tours
If you are interested in a tour to the island there are many on offer. There are some day tours such as this one from Klook.
If you are instead interested in seeing the penguin parade (which is an amazing sight!) then there are also tours available. If you are able to spend the night on Phillip Island, the penguin parade is amazing.
There is also a chocolate factory on the island, and if this sounds like something that you would enjoy, then you can purchase tickets online.
Finally, if you would prefer to stick to the ocean, then why not do some seal watching? A tour is available that will let you see and photograph these cute but lazy creatures!
About the Koala Reserve
The Phillip Island Koala Reserve is a large reserve dedicated to Australian wildlife. The reserve itself is around 6 hectares in size and is home to many animals that roam the park. Two paths can guide you through the reserve (both of which are easy walks and have wheelchair access).
There is a well equipped visitors centre in which visitors can learn about the animals before interacting with them. The park also supplies food which can be fed to the many animals!
Kangaroos roam the park, totally free to do as they please. Visitors to the park are free to feed and interact with the roaming animals.
You Can See All of Australia’s Wildlife
This is exactly what made the Koala Reserve such a memorable experience. It felt authentic. The reserve itself takes up a very large area, and within this area, many of the animals are free to go wherever they want. Since visitors are given food bags to distribute to the animals of the park… Well the animals are hungry and will willingly approach. This is the only place where I have been left with kangaroos with no barriers between.
There are other animals within the park too – from eagles to dingos (Australian wild dogs). These animals are contained in separate areas though for safety reasons. These animals are generally unique to Australia, and the Koala Reserve is the perfect location to get your full dose of Australia’s wildlife.
Not only kangaroos roam freely, but also wallabies. These cute creatures can be found all around the reserve.
Freely Roaming Animals
The main attraction though is definitely the free-range animals. Depending on the season that you visit, there will also be many young wallabies and kangaroos (joeys!), they really are astonishingly cute! We found the wallabies to be the main attraction as they are just so cute and friendly, however, the kangaroos were also a highlight.
Tickets for Koala Reserve can be purchased for $13 per adult. Children are $6.50 each, and family tickets (2 adults and 2 children can also be purchased at a discounted rate). Further, if you are interested in Phillip Island’s other attractions (such as the penguin parade), ticket bundles can be purchased for discounted rates.
Most of the kangaroos in the park are more than happy to approach you on their own accord – as long as you have food to offer!
The Phillip Island Koala Reserve has done all that it can to make the viewing of the animals as easy and accessible as possible. Most of the park is accessible by wheelchair, and the Koala enclosures have high ramps that bring you close to the low hanging trees. This creates one of the best Koala viewing experiences I have ever seen. While the animals love sleeping and are often in hard-to-see places, the park does all that it can to make viewing enjoyable.
Some of the more dangerous animals are in enclosures that visitors aren’t allowed to enter. However, these enclosures are well maintained and the animals appear cared for. You are allowed right up to the cages and good viewing experiences are still possible.
The reserve is 6 hectares in size, and within this area many of the animals (and visitors) are allowed to roam free.
Hand Feeding Animals
As for the free-roaming animals (the emus, kangaroos and wallabies), these animals can be seen all over the park and even can be hand fed. You will have no problem meeting and interacting with this Australian wildlife! Many of the animals (the kangaroos especially) will even approach you on their own. This was very cool for me, and seeing kangaroos willingly approaching was a truly cool and unique experience.
A sleepy koala!
If there are a lot of activities on Phillip Island that you are interested in (all of the different activities can be found here), then accommodation on the island is also an option. While Melbourne isn’t too far away, this is the ideal option if you want to explore the island at a leisurely pace. The island is also a very beautiful place, you really can’t go wrong with staying there.
Since Phillip Island is located a few hours outside of the city, I would recommend making a day trip of the island.
Other than the Koala Reserve, there are also many other animal-focused activities. Churchill Island is another (smaller) island that is located just off the coast of Phillip Island. This island has lots of flora and fauna and has some stunning walking tracks.
There Is More Wildlife Close By!
The Penguin Parade is probably Phillip Island’s biggest attraction – and for good reason! Every night after sunset, the little penguins from the ocean come onto the land to nest. If you’ve ever wanted to see penguins stumbling over each other and tumbling up the beach, this is an unmissable opportunity.
Depending on the season, the spectating times can vary. Due to a photography ban in the penguin area, I, unfortunately, can’t share any photos. I can promise that there were tons of cute penguins though!
Some of the stunning beaches located on Churchill Island. A small island located off of Phillip Island, Churchill Island is a stunning place to visit.
There are many more activities on Phillip Island. From the chocolate factory to paintball, and kayaking to biking, Phillip Island doesn’t lack activities. While for me the highlight was definitely the animals, there is a lot more to the island also.
If you are in Melbourne and are looking to add to your itinerary, Phillip Island Koala Reserve is a fantastic place to visit. If you are a nature or wildlife lover then this is one of the few places where you can interact unhindered with lots of the unique and cute animals of Australia.
Since I was staying close by, I didn’t get the chance to experience any of Phillip Island’s accommodation. However, if you are looking to stay on the island itself, there are many options!
If you are looking for accommodation on the island I would recommend checking out the prices on Agoda. There are many different options and you are sure to find something that you will like!