Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Raymond Island, Victoria

Raymond Island koala
I admit it - I am a wildlife tragic. I'll go almost anywhere to see animals in the bush. David and I first visited Raymond Island in March but we were drawn back on the way home from our last road trip. Only four hours drive from Melbourne, at last count the 7.6 sq km island had a koala population of 307, making it the best place in Australia to see koalas in their natural environment.

The island is a two-minute ferry ride from Paynesville in the Gippsland Lakes District of Victoria - a reliable place to see kangaroos. Paynesville and Raymond Island are the perfect wildlife tragic's double act. You can read where to find the kangaroos at Paynesville by clicking - here. For my March blog post on Raymond Island, with practical information as well as a description of our visit and lots of koala pictures click - here.

Walk, bike or drive? 


Raymond Island

By far the best way to see Raymond Island is by bicycle. There are no shops, cafes or other services on the island so rent bikes in Paynesville and take them across on the ferry with you. It is less than a kilometre from the ferry wharf to the reserve where the koalas like to congregate. Once you arrive on the island head to the park opposite the ferry dock and for a $2 donation pick up a pamphlet on the history of the koalas. The pamphlet has a map showing where to find the koalas - or just follow the signs to the 'koala walk'.

There is a koala in this tree - well hidden.

The heaviest concentration of koalas is in the reserve adjacent to Twelfth Avenue but look up as you walk because they also sit in the trees outside people's houses. We even found a few down near the wharf. Many of the eucalyptus trees on the island grow relatively low to the ground so the koalas are not that far above eye-level making them much easier to see than in most other places in Australia.


Raymond Island koala and baby
See the joey in the top right?

Once you have seen the koalas, don't ignore the rest of the island. We saw a mob of kangaroos and a couple of echidnas along Centre Rd toward the north-west of the main settlement.  The island is about 6 km long so if you don't have a bike and don't want to do a long walk you might need your car for this bit.

Raymond Island echidna
One of the two echidnas we saw by the side of the road in the centre of the island.

Raymond Island kanagaroos
Look closely to see the joey peaking out of mum's pouch.

The car ferry and 'Ugly Betty'


Raymond Island car ferry
The Raymond Island car ferry 

The car ferry from Paynesville is free for foot passengers and bicycles and $11 return for cars. Just one word of caution however, while we were there the ferry broke down. I don't know how often this happens but judging by the resigned look on the faces of the locals, it didn't seem to be all that unusual an event. When we arrived at the ferry dock to return to the mainland there was a long, frustrating line of cars waiting for the emergency ferry. The operators were turning it around as fast as they could but it could only hold three or four cars at a time. D and I were very glad we didn't have to join the queue.

After some confusion, we were directed with our bikes to a small passenger ferry known affectionately as 'Ugly Betty' where there was no queue at all. It turned out to be a relatively quick, fun trip back and gave us a great chance to talk to some of the locals.

Ugly Betty Raymond Island
'Ugly Betty'

Family of ducks Raymond Island
Even the most common animals can be cute!


54 comments:

  1. We really do have some beautiful native animals! Gorgeous pics :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. The more I travel overseas, the more I appreciate our own unique wildlife and how easy it is to see it in the bush.

      Delete
  2. SO cool! What a wonderful trip, and great shots to remember it by.
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/basilica-shrine-of-saint-mary.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I was pretty happy with the shots with my new camera.

      Delete
  3. Beautiful pics. I love seeing Koala's in their natural habitat. It's such a lovely area around Paynesville too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were blown away by how pretty Paynesville and the whole Gippsland Lake area is.

      Delete
  4. That looks beautiful! And fantastic photos! I have to get to Aussie to see the wildlife one day, no snakes though! #TeamIBOT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is quite rare to see a snake. You see them occasionally, but they slither away when they hear someone coming. They really don't like to be bothered. I think I have seen as many snakes in the U.S and England as I have in Oz.

      Delete
  5. I love the idea of taking a boat on a ferry to look at an island. That sounds awesome. I'll have to add that to my to-do list, if we ever make it to Victoria :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you - it is terrific fun taking a ferry to an Island. I'm always worried about not being able to get back though, especially if we are in a car. At one stage I thought we might have to swim back - lol.

      Delete
  6. what a gorgeous little place, I had no idea this little gem even existed, thank you for sharing xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think more overseas tourists have heard of Raymond Island than Australians. I only found out about it a few years ago from a contact on twitter.

      Delete
  7. Your photos of the wildlife are wonderful! We visited Australia in 2004 and took a tour out to see the Great Ocean Road and while there we were able to spot a few Koala in the tree tops, but nothing like your photos! Well-done. And the mama and her ducklings are pretty darn cute as well. Looks to be a lovely place to visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Great Ocean Rd is probably the second best place in Australia, after Raymond Island, to see koalas in the bush but you need to know where to go. There is a particular campground where we found them quite close to the ground. The thing about koalas is that so often they sit right at the top of the trees. If they are in tall trees you just don't see them very well. I once wrote a post on the Great Ocean Rd with directions to the best spots for koalas. If you are interested you will find it here - http://www.thetravellinglindfields.com/2015/05/the-great-ocean-road-koalas-kangaroos.html

      If you ever come back to Oz I can highly recommend Raymond Island and Paynesville for koalas and kangaroos. The other really good place to see them is The Koala Conservation Centre on Phillip Island. They are in a compound there but it is a lovely natural looking setting.

      Delete
  8. I love a good wildlife encounter, particularly of the cuddly kind! I was born in Victoria and although I've heard of Paynesville, I never knew Raymond Island existed. I have seen many koalas at Cape Otway on the Great Ocean Road however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last time we were at Cape Otway the koalas seemed to have disappeared. I understand that there was a serious over-population problem - all we saw was a lot of dead trees, completely stripped of their leaves. It was such a shame.

      Delete
  9. I also love watching animals in wild, there is nothing better than it! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ooo.. The first koala looked so wide awake! I hardly ever see Koalas wide awake - they are perpetually sleeping, aren't they? Something to do with the eucalyptus leaves they feed on? I've never seen an Echidna in the wild before though. And Ugly Betty doesn't look too ugly. #WednesdayWanderlust

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Koalas sleep for an average of 20 hours a day. Their eucalyptus leaf diet is very low in nutrients so sleeping a lot keeps their metabolism low enough to survive on such a restricted diet - that's what I have read anyway. It is unusual to see so many wide awake. We were quite lucky there. The first time we went to Raymond Island most of them were asleep.

      The best place to see them wide awake is the Koala Sanctuary on Phillip Island, provided you time your visit to go when they are being fed - unless things have changed that is about 3 pm.

      Echidna's are tricky. There are lots of them around but they are small and very timid. It is easy to miss them even if you are walking straight past one.

      Delete
  11. How exciting you got to see so much wildlife! I'd love to have that experience myself and always hope for an opportunity like this.

    http://passportcouture.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Australia is a great place to see wildlife. Go driving anywhere in the countryside in the early mornings or evenings and you would have to be unlucky not to see kangaroos.

      Delete
  12. I nearly died from the cuteness of the koalas and then the joeyyy! Ah! That's amazing. I, too, love animals so cute and fun. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you want to die of cuteness and go to heaven have a look at the top post on my Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/thetravellinglindfields/ . It is a video of a baby koala taken and shared on FB by a wildlife park south of Sydney. I have never seen anything more gorgeous.

      Delete
  13. Great place - we have a church camp there every summer (fortunately never had the ferry break down - maybe they make sure it's fixed for the summer onslaught), and it is such a beautiful place. Your photos have really captured it - beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is great to hear from someone who has been there. Very few people have heard of it and it is such a gem. It would be a lovely place for a church camp.

      Delete
  14. Seen plenty of other Australian wildlife but never seen koalas in the wild. lucky you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Provided you know where to look koalas are the easiest animals to find because they never run away. Maybe you'll just have to take a trip down to Raymond Island.

      Delete
  15. This looks wonderful! pinning this for our roadtrip from Melbourne to Cairnes next March :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely recommend it. If you take the coast road you will go straight past it. You might want to consider Phillip Island as well so you can see the fairy penguins. It's a bit commercial but still the best place to see them in Oz other than King Island.

      Delete
  16. Lyn, I might have to go here just to ride on "Ugly Betty". I love that kind of thing. Jim and I go out of our way to take ferries...I know...weird!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you. We love ferries. Come to Sydney and I'll take you on a ferry tour of my city. D and I have lived on a couple of Islands during our marriage and so we tend to seek them out wherever we go.

      Delete
  17. Can't remember if I came across this place in my research before heading to Australia, when looking for a place to see koalas and kangaroos in the wild. It sounds perfect! As I didn't plan on renting a car, I might have ruled it out... Did get to see koalas at Kennett River and kangaroos on Daydream Island (Whitsundays). But would have wanted to see a lot more :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kennett River is a good place to see koalas as are a couple of other spots along the Great Ocean Rd. I am amazed that there are kangaroos on Daydream Island - it is such a small place. It just shows that you learn something new every day.

      Delete
  18. Who doesn't love koalas? Raymond Island looks like a fabulous place to see them. Renting bikes instead of taking a car looks like the best way to go on the ferry to the island.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose you have to be able to ride a bike but if you can it is a great way to see the koalas.

      Delete
  19. Oh, I'd love to see koala bears and kangaroos. I am not very lucky seeing wildlife. Anywhere I go expecting to see animals, they seem to disappear...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha - I know what you mean but you can't avoid the koalas on Raymond Island.

      Delete
  20. Raymond Island in Victoria looks a gorgeous place to visit. You had me at bicycles and koalas! Jo from Lifestyle Fifty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a wonderful destination - provided of course you like bikes and koalas, but who on earth doesn't!

      Delete
  21. Love the koalas, but have never even heard of an echidna before! Looks like a really fun visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Echidnas don't get the same press that other Australian marsupials do but I think they are the cutest of the lot.

      Delete
  22. We loved seeing koalas when we visited Australia, but unfortunately only saw them in sanctuaries and zoos. How cool to see so many out in the wild. Love the echidna too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you ever come back, go to Raymond Island, and you will definitely see koalas. The kangaroos at Paynesville were pretty good too.

      Delete
  23. I'd love to see koalas in the wild. This looks like a perfect day trip with a bike - and if only it was close by. Kangaroos seem so exotic too and love the photo you shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Australia has some great places to cycle and we love exploring places by bicycle.

      Delete
  24. Wonderfull, gorgeous photos of koala, love much its.Greeting from Belgium

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi from Australia. I'm glad you liked my photos.

      Delete
  25. Lyn, as much as I have wanted to see koalas in the wild, I would be thrilled to actually come across an echidna. How did you manage to see TWO of them? I'd imagine they are small and hard to spot. Have you ever seen a wild platypus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is easier to see them if you are on foot or on a bike. I just keep my eyes out at the side of the road and listen for rustling sounds. They always curl into a ball when you disturb them and you can hear them disturbing the leaves and undergrowth as they do it. Ironically we found them on Raymond Island because David was convinced (jokingly) that the one we saw in about the same spot a few months previously would still be close by. Maybe he was right but they all look alike, so I'm not sure - lol.

      I don't think there are platypus on Raymond Island but the absolute best place to see them in the bush is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra. I saw at least two there a few months ago. They come there naturally. If you are interested, I wrote a blog post about seeing them there - http://www.thetravellinglindfields.com/2015/10/tidbinbilla-nature-reserve-act-best.html

      Delete
  26. Thank you for a nice story. Now I really want to visit that island, there is something special with seeing animals in the wild. Here in Sweden we are mainly able to see hare, deer and elks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seeing elk in the wild would be pretty amazing. I have seen a few in the US but never in Europe.

      Delete
    2. I assume that it is more fun spotting animals that you are not used to see in the wild at home. :)

      Delete
    3. Koalas are so cute, I love spotting them anywhere. Even kangaroos which are in plague proportions in many parts of Australia are still fun to see in the bush.

      Delete