You’ll find all the quintessential Aussie wildlife on the Great Ocean Road: cuddly koalas, bouncy kangaroos and emus, friendly dolphins and whales, even the elusive platypus. The best of it is you don’t have to drive too far from the road, with national parks running its length, along with deep forest and extensive coastline.
There are some fabulous walks for starters, including that of the Otway Treetop Walk, where you are 30m above the ground and can get close to a variety of birds. The Great Ocean Walk, meanwhile, goes between the Twelve Apostles and Apollo Bay, and there are many places to watch out for southern right whales, including at Logans Beach, Warrnambool, with its nursery and viewing platform.
Nearby is an extinct volcano at the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, the perfect home environment for kangaroos, emus and koalas. Get to it from either Warrnambool or Port Fairy. This region is also good for seeing seals at Lady Julia Percy Island as well as at Cape Bridgewater.
Also out this way, beyond Portland, are blue whales that come to feed on krill. There are two capes from which to gain the best views—Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson—or take a boat trip and try to get near these beautiful creatures. Dolphins can be seen right around the coast and especially at Port Phillip Bay where you can swim with them.
Farther east, head into the Otway Forest and explore the platypus at a high lake like Lake Elizabeth by kayak, or head to Melba Gully for its glow worms. If you don’t plan on going the length of the road and want to see Great Ocean Road wildlife like the koala, head for Kennett River where you can see them in gum trees chomping leaves.