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Melbourne, East Gippsland & Phillip Island

Suggested months: January, February, March, December.

Experience the best of wildlife just outside of Australia's cultural hub of Melbourne, within the beautiful state of Victoria. The first leg visits Australia's largest colony of seals at Seal Rocks off Phillip Island, before heading to Wilsons Promontory, regarded as one of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in Australia.

The trip concludes with a visit to East Gippsland, to explore magnificent lush rainforests, coastal heathlands, giant eucalypt groves, white sandy beaches and pristine rivers, providing access to almost half of Australia's bird count, many shy forest-dwelling species and iconic marsupials including wombats, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas.

Highlights of this wildlife vacation include:

  • Exploring unbroken chain of precious forests stretching from the Snowy River alpine area to the sea, including Giant Alpine Ash groves
  • Spotting shy forest dwellers and marsupials including Greater and Yellow-bellied Gliders, Superb Lyrebirds, parrots, cockatoos and migrant cuckoos
  • Up-close views of remote locations like Skull Rock, Glennie Island, the historic Wilsons Promontory lighthouse and Kanowna Island seal sanctuary
  • Venturing to Seal Rocks off Phillip Island, where you will drift amongst 7000+ seals

Minimum Suggested Nights: 8 days - 4 days East Gippsland, 2 days Phillip Island/Wilsons Promontory, 2 days Melbourne

Price Guideline: Typically, the budget for small group touring packages across Australia excluding flights is:
4-star: Minimum AUD $400 per person per day (USD $300)
3-star: Minimum AUD $250 per person per day (USD $170)

East Gippsland Phillip Island
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Type: Shared

Duration: 2 hours - Phillip Island

Logistics: Fly into Melbourne (MEL)

From Melbourne, pick up a rental car and take a 1 hour 30 minute drive to Cowes.

Option to extend beyond the Seal Cruise to watch the world-famous Penguin Parade in the evening.

Accommodation:
Various options available on Phillip Island

Seal Watching Cruise

Spectacular close up encounters with Australia’s largest population of Australian Fur Seals is promised on this scenic coastal boat tour. Venturing to the aptly named Seal Rocks, visitors will drift amongst 7000+ seals. Seals are present all year round, from young pups to adult bulls, with the crew providing insights into the fascinating social displays of these agile and playful creatures.

The spectacular coastline along the northern and western shores of Phillip Island, provide abundant viewing opportunities for dolphins, Little Penguins and a vast array of seabirds.

About Wildlife Coast Cruises Founded by John Dickie, Wildlife Coast Cruises has shown locals and visitors the spectacular wildlife and coastal scenery around Phillip Island, Seal Rocks, Westernport Bay and Wilsons Promontory for over 23 years. As a long-term ambassador and award winner in the eco-tourism space, Wildlife Coast Cruises boasts many environmental and tourism accreditations, and offer a range of up close and personal wildlife experiences, shared through engaging commentary and warm hospitality.

Seasonal highlights

Summer: Dec-Feb - Birds

Crested Terns, Silver Gulls, Pacific and Kelp Gulls at rookeries, Australasian Gannets, Shy Albatross, Giant Petrels, Australasian Darters, Little Penguins, Short-tailed Shearwaters return to their burrows on Phillip Island, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Wedge-tailed Eagles.

Autumn: Mar-May - Birds

Short-tailed Shearwaters feed up before their epic northern migration, Shy Albatross chicks fledge mostly in April, Crested Terns, Pied & Black-faced Cormorants, Australasian Gannets, Little Penguins feeding close to shore, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Wedge-tailed Eagles.

Summer: Dec-Feb - Marine Mammals

Male Australian Fur Seals territorial behavior and fighting, Adult females give birth to one pup and seal population swells to over 30,000 seals, Bottlenose Dolphins, Short-beaked Common Dolphins, Orcas occasionally spotted.

Autumn: Mar-May - Marine Mammals

Australian Fur Seal pups very playful, Short-beaked Common Dolphins, Small pods of up to 10 Bottlenose Dolphins forage for squid and fish.

More info

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Type: Groups,Shared

Duration: 8-9 hours

Logistics: Early morning pickup bus transfer to Port Welshpool or take rental car to the Port Welshpool Jetty (1 hour 50 mins drive).

Day cruises depart Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday aside from Mid Dec - Mid Jan. Check schedules for availability.

Overnight: Phillip Island

Wilsons Promontory Full Day Cruise

Wilsons Promontory National Park is regarded as one of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in Australia. Up-close views of remote locations like Skull Rock, Glennie Island, the historic Wilsons Promontory lighthouse, and stops at pristine beaches and nature reserves including the Kanowna Island seal sanctuary leave guests in awe of the area’s natural beauty and wildlife. Anchoring at Refuge Cove, there is ample time to swim, snorkel and lounge on white sandy beaches. This full day luxury cruising on a catamaran is fully catered and is the only means to see some of the regions most beautiful coves.

Departure Dates:
November 2018 - 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29
December 2018 - 6, 8, 9, 11, 13
January 2019 - 26, 27, 29, 31
February 2019 - 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28
March 2019 - 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28
April 2019 - 4, 11, 13, 14

About Wildlife Coast Cruises Founded by John Dickie, Wildlife Coast Cruises has shown locals and visitors the spectacular wildlife and coastal scenery around Phillip Island, Seal Rocks, Westernport Bay and Wilsons Promontory for over 23 years. As a long-term ambassador and award winner in the eco-tourism space, Wildlife Coast Cruises boasts many environmental and tourism accreditations, and offer a range of up close and personal wildlife experiences, shared through engaging commentary and warm hospitality.

Seasonal highlights

Summer: Dec-Feb - Birds

Crested Terns, Silver Gulls, Pacific and Kelp Gulls at rookeries, Australasian Gannets, Shy Albatross, Giant Petrels, Australasian Darters, Little Penguins, Short-tailed Shearwaters return to their burrows on Phillip Island, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Wedge-tailed Eagles.

Autumn: Mar-May - Birds

Short-tailed Shearwaters feed up before their epic northern migration, Shy Albatross chicks fledge mostly in April, Crested Terns, Pied & Black-faced Cormorants, Australasian Gannets, Little Penguins feeding close to shore, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Wedge-tailed Eagles.

Summer: Dec-Feb - Marine Mammals

Male Australian Fur Seals territorial behavior and fighting, Adult females give birth to one pup and seal population swells to over 30,000 seals, Bottlenose Dolphins, Short-beaked Common Dolphins, Orcas occasionally spotted.

Autumn: Mar-May - Marine Mammals

Australian Fur Seal pups very playful, Short-beaked Common Dolphins, Small pods of up to 10 Bottlenose Dolphins forage for squid and fish.

More info

Visit Google Maps

Type: Groups,Shared

Duration: 4 days/3 nights - East Gippsland

Logistics: Drive rental car to Pakenham (Budget, Hertz) for morning pick to join fully guided four day trip.

Shared departures leave on Mondays from March 2019. Private departures on request

Accommodation Included: Snowy River Homestead or similar

East Gippsland Wildlife Journey

Venturing across East Gippsland’s magnificent lush rainforests, coastal heathlands, giant eucalypt groves, white sandy beaches and pristine rivers and estuaries, this four day immersive adventure offers encounters with a diverse array of species.

It is especially attractive to enthusiasts looking to spot some of the more shy forest dwellers including Yellow-bellied and Greater Gliders, Swamp Wallabies, King Parrots and the piercing call of the Eastern Whipbird. Other highlights include walking with Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Echidnas on Raymond Island, searching for koalas in eucalypt forests, spotting Lace Monitors lazing beside secluded rivers and listening for Superb Lyrebirds mimicking other birds on the fertile rainforest floor.

Guests also spend a little time helping nature on a remote beach by removing disused fishing nets, preventing injury to local fish, marine mammals or birds. Charming lodge-style, owner-operated boutique accommodation ensures a comfortable sleep across the journey.

About Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours was founded by Roger Smith and Janine Duffy in 1993, with the vision to bring people and wildlife together for mutual benefit. The award-winning team believes that observing and connecting with wildlife is a key element in enriching the lives for people of all backgrounds; whether this interaction is for pleasure, new experiences and learning, for connection to the land or the basic needs for humans to breathe clean air and drink clean water via healthy ecosystems.

When guests travel with Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, part of the trip involves travellers contributing to a project that actively helps wildlife.

Seasonal highlights

Summer: Dec-Feb - Birds

Scarlet Honeyeaters and Black-faced Monarchs migrate to the area, Satin Bowerbird nesting, Red & Little Wattlebirds, Eastern Spinebills, Tawny-crowned, Blue-faced and Crescent Honeyeaters, King Parrots, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Golden Whistler, Eastern Whipbirds and Flame Robins.

Autumn: Mar-May - Birds

The Superb Lyrebird is in full voice at this time, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Golden Whistlers, Pied Currawongs, Eastern Whipbirds, Eastern-yellow Robins, Jacky Winters, Rose Robins, Beautiful Firetails, Powerful Owls.

Summer: Dec-Feb - Land Mammals & Marsupials

Grey-headed Flying Foxes roost in camps of thousands of individuals with juveniles clinging under their mothers arm, Swamp Wallabies, Yellow-bellied and Greater Gliders in the mature eucalypt forests.

More info