On arrival at Melbourne airport your zoologist escort/driver will meet you and transfer you to your accommodation, level 3* (Langham Melbourne / Novotel Melbourne) as the flights to Australia are very long and tiring today is very relaxed and your not expected to do anything. We will have a trip around Melbourne including St. Kilda where we may get a glimpse of the adorable little penguins and a rikali. We will also keep an eye out for the colourful rainbow lorikeets and the very common grey-headed flying foxes. Our meals will be at the accommodation.
Today we can rise later than usual and after breakfast you will be driven south-east to Phillip Island (2 hours). Phillip Island is a very special place and home to the largest colony of little penguins in the world. We will explore the island in depth before we have our private viewing of the penguins as they come back ashore for the night. We will spend time visiting the Koala Conservation Centre. Here we will walk around the raised board walks and get close to wild koalas, swamp wallabies, short-beaked echidnas and around 150 bird species. The koalas are bred and researched to help bring the Phillip Island population back up and it is working a treat. After here we will head to the Nobbies. The Nobbies are a number of rocky islands which are home to a colony of Australian fur seals. Watching them play around in the surf whilst walking around nesting silver gulls and having short-tailed shearwaters flock in the distance is a brilliant experience, especially when you couple this with the spectacular views in every direction. We will stay here until the sun begins to set and we have to leave to be in time for the penguin parade. Every night the little penguins form living ‘rafts’ and swim back to the beach in numbers, once they hit the sand they waddle up the beach and right past us as they head to their burrows in the tussock grass. After all the penguins have come we will have our evening meal and then drive back to Melbourne and our accommodation, level 3* (Langham Melbourne / Novotel Melbourne).
Ferry to Tasmania
This morning after breakfast we will check out and you will be driven to the Dandenong Ranges National Park (1 hour). This is the closest national park to Melbourne but despite being so close to such a huge city the wildlife is prolific here. Especially the bird life which includes the superb lyrebird. We will spend most of the day in the park walking and driving around to see how many of the birds and mammals we can see. As well as the superb lyrebird we will hopefully find sulphur-crested cockatoos, laughing kookaburras, crimson rosellas, pied currawongs, yellow-faced honeyeaters and eastern yellow robins but in addition to these birds we could also see yellow-bellied sugar gliders (although they are more active at night) and tree goannas. We will have lunch in one of the nearby towns before heading back to Melbourne in time to catch the over night ferry to Tasmania. The ferry takes all night (we leave at 19:30 and arrive at 06:00 the following day) and on-board you will have your own cabin. There are plenty of things to do as well, such as a cinema, games room and of course a couple of bars. We will have our evening meal in the restaurant.
Mt William National Park
Today is a busy day, with two national parks to visit. First we will disembark the ferry and leave the harbour town of Devonport and head east to a small coastal park called Narawntapu National Park (1 hour). Here we will stretch our legs and get some fresh air to wake us up a little after the ferry. Here we will walk around the beach and the grasslands hoping to find common wombats, red-necked wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons. The highest density of Tasmanian devils is around here as well so if we are lucky we may get a glimpse of one during the day. After an hour to two here we will leave to our accommodation, level 4.5* (Tidal Waters Resort) on the east coast in a beautiful isolated cove. After checking in and having some lunch we will leave to visit our second national park of the day; Mt William National Park (2.5 hours). This is a very seldom visited park and we may well have the entire place to ourselves. We will drive around the park in search of many marsupials. As soon as the sun goes down here the area teems with life. Kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, wombats, possums, quolls and even devils we have a good chance of spotting them all over the next two nights here. This is also one of the best places in Australia for tawny frogmouths, various owls and nightjars as well. We will spend an hour or two after dark before going back to the accommodation for a well deserved meal and plenty of rest.
Mt William National Park
Today we will have a leisurely breakfast before heading out to the Bay of Fires (one of the most beautiful bays on the whole island), we will spend the morning here walking the beach in search of some of the birds of the area such as the very rare Cape Barren goose, short-tailed shearwaters, various albatross, gull and tern species as well as both pied and sooty oystercatchers. The bay also plays host to the odd ‘lost’ marine mammal like leopard seals, southern elephant seals and crab-eater seals although we would be extremely lucky to come across any of those wanderers. We will have lunch in the Bay of Fires and they prepare to spend the rest of the day in Mt William National Park. We will take food for a BBQ inside the park with us and spend the rest of the daylight hours stalking common wombats and birding for some of the colourful inhabitants of Mt William like superb blue fairy-wrens, scarlet robins, firetail finches and yellow-tailed black cockatoos. Once again as the sun sets and we finish our BBQ dinner we will spend an hour or two (or until we get too tired) spotlighting for the nocturnal mammals and birds as mentioned on Day 4. Our accommodation, level 4.5* (Tidal Waters Resort) is the same as yesterday.
Freycinet National Park
After breakfast this morning we will leave for our next destination, south to Freycinet National Park and the stunning Wineglass Bay (2.5 hours). This is one of the most popular parks in Tasmania and one which has incredible views everywhere you look. After arriving at our accommodation, level private cabins / private suits (Freycinet Lodge / Edge of the Bay Resort) and having some lunch we will visit the park and drive around the park taking in the breathtaking views and walking the stunning beaches. Swimming is possible here but the water can be cold. The birding here is great with Australian gannets, white-bellied sea eagles, crested terns, grey butcherbirds, black-faced cuckoo shrikes, yellow wattlebirds and masked plovers regularly spotted. We will eat at our accommodation or a nearby restaurant before heading back into the park for some spotlighting once the sun sets. This is one of the best places in the whole country for eastern quolls and this is our target animal during the two nights here.
Freycinet National Park
After breakfast we will begin our ascent to one of the best lookouts in the world. Wineglass bay (so called because of its almost perfect circular shape) lookout is just amazing and well worth the walk up. Along the way we have a chance of spotting some of the local reptiles as they bask against the rocks. Animals like tiger snakes, mountain dragons, Tasmanian tree skinks and three-lined skinks are commonly seen in addition to birds like spotted pardalote, little wattlebirds and yellow-throated honeyeaters. We will have lunch in one of the nearby restaurants before spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing, birding, snorkelling along the coastline of one of the many spectacular beaches around here. When the sun begins to set we will leave to spotlight along the roads once again and as well as the eastern quoll we could find common brushtail possums, Tasmanian bettongs and long-nosed potoroos. Before having our evening meal at our accommodation, level private cabins / private suits (Freycinet Lodge / Edge of the Bay Resort).
Tasman Peninsula National Park
This morning after our breakfast we will continue our journey south to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula (2.5-3 hours) and on arrival check into our accommodation, private cabins / 4* (Stewarts Bay Lodge / Sea Change Safety Cove) and have lunch. The rest of the day is at our leisure, we can visit the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park if you wish. This facility is doing excellent work and is battling the unusual facial tumour disease which is devastating the population of devils throughout the island. The park also allows us to get close to other native animals such as quolls, wallabies and kangaroos. All the money here goes to helping the devils continue their battle against the very real possibility of extinction. Our evening meal will be either at our accommodation or at a restaurant in Port Arthur.
Cradle Mountain / Lake St Claire National Park
After breakfast you will be taken to the harbour in time for a three hour trip down the coastline to Tasman Island and along the way enjoy some whale watching. Our boat comes equipped with an underwater camera and viewing screen which allows you to see what is going on below the surface which can be anything from diving little penguins and Australian gannets to feeding New Zealand and Australian fur seals and playing humpback and southern right whales with their calves. It is not unusual to see both humpbacks and southern right whales as well as short-beaked common, dusky and common bottle-nosed dolphins in the water and black-browed, southern Royal and light-mantled albatross glide over it, during one three hour trip. On our return to dry land we will have lunch before setting off to Cradle Mountain / Lake St Claire National Park in the centre of the island (5 hours). After checking into our accommodation, level – private cabins / private cottages (Cradle Mountain Lodge / Highlanders Cottages) we will have our evening meal, followed by a drive around the park to see if we can find the Tasmanian devil as this park is probably the best place in the world to find them.
Cradle Mountain / Lake St Claire National Park
After breakfast we will begin our exploration of the park. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which spans 20% of the whole island, the park is exceptionally rich in life. We will spend the day walking some of the various walking trails here and see what we can find. Platypus do inhabit the rivers and Lake St Claire although they are hard to spot more commonly seen animals are red-necked wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons, common wombats and short-beaked echidnas as well as black currawongs, strong-billed and black-headed honeyeaters and yellow wattlebirds. But it is after dark when things get really exciting and tonight we will have a guided walk for an hour or so with a park warden before spending more time on a spotlighting drive around the park boundaries in search for devils, quolls, phascogales and dunnarts. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation, level – private cabins / private cottages (Cradle Mountain Lodge / Highlanders Cottages).
Ferry to Melbourne
After our breakfast we will drive to Mole Creek Karst National Park (1 hour), grab some lunch and have a guided tour of some spectacular cave systems here including a huge tavern called Great Cathedral as well as the Gardens which is made up of many intricate and colourful rock and crystal formations in addition to this we will be treated to the brilliant glow worms which abound in the cave. After this tour we will continue north to Devonport (1.5 hours). Devonport is a small harbour town and here you will have a couple of hours to wander the streets and souvenir shop before we board the ferry for the return journey to Melbourne. Whilst in Devonport keep an eye out for the endemic Tasmanian native hen which is quite common around the gardens of the town. We will be spending the night on the ferry again with our evening meal in the restaurant and our accommodation will be a private cabin again.
On arrival in Melbourne we will drive east towards one of the most famous and glorious roads in the entire world. Great Ocean Road is 160 miles of breathtaking scenery stretching west from Melbourne. This morning we will drive along the coastline towards our accommodation in Apollo Bay (3 hours), level – private apartments / cottages (The Beachcomber / The Beachfront Motel) where we will unpack and relax until lunch. Along the way we will have seen some of the most amazing coastline in Australia as the road hugs the cliff top as well as stopping at Kennett River. Kennett River is one of the top places in the world to find wild koalas and we will spend some time here trying to find some and hopefully spot a joey or two. After we have unpacked, rested and eaten lunch we travel inland to a small village called Forrest (30 mins). Here we will take a guided canoe through Great Otways National Park in search of platypuses, this is a dusk tour as the platypuses are more active towards dusk than during the day. We have a 90% chance of spotting a platypus as we paddle along side them and after we will walk through the woodland surrounded by hundred and thousands of glow worms. After we have left the Great Otways National Park we will have our evening meal back at our accommodation and have the rest of the evening at your leisure.
This morning after breakfast we will leave and continue west along Great Ocean Road towards the very famous rock formations like 12 Apostles, Lord Ard Gorge, The Blowhole, Mutton Bird Island and London Bridge. We will stop for lunch in Port Campbell and will have hopefully seen short-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds), fairy prions, little penguins, kelp gulls, common diving petrels, crested terns, Australian gannets, silver gulls gang-gang cockatoos and black-faced cormorants. After lunch we will drive even further west to Warrnambool (2-3 hours from Apollo Bay) where there is a ‘nursery’ bay for southern right whales. We are a little early for the main whale watching season but there are southern right whales around at this time of year but we do usually see one or two. Once we return to the accommodation we will eat our evening meal and then head east to Arngahook Lorne State Park for some spotlighting as we look for yellow-bellied and sugar gliders as well as southern boobooks around the Sheoak Creek picnic grounds. An hour or two after dark we will return to our accommodation, level – private apartments / cottages (The Beachcomber / The Beachfront Motel) for the night.
After a leisurely breakfast we will travel back to Melbourne (2.5 hours) and to our accommodation, level 3* (Langham Melbourne / Novotel Melbourne). The rest of the day will be for you to explore the city or simply relax and take in the sights before you return home tomorrow. Our lunch and evening meal will be at our accommodation.
Today you will be transferred to the airport in order to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.