Observing Wildlife Mark Chew

Great Otway Koala Conservation – 3 days

Help save our wildlife: 3-day self-drive koala conservation tour

Join passionate and dedicated conservationists in conserving one of the world’s most enchanting animals – the Australian koala.

Venture into the Australian bush with the conservation team to participate in inspiring fieldwork, learn about koala and woodland ecology, gain skills in survey techniques and assist with the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned koalas.

This self-drive wildlife tour takes place at The Great Ocean Ecolodge and adjoining Conservation Ecology Centre, located within the Great Otway National Park in South West Victoria. The park features diverse landscapes with rugged coastlines and sandy beaches along the iconic Great Ocean Road – one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives, with views of dramatic rock formations and windswept heathland. In the north, the park features tall forests, ferny gullies, magnificent waterfalls and tranquil lakes.

Your participation in the tour helps ensure koalas will remain part of Australia’s wildlife – and avoid extinction. By joining our 3-day Conservation Insights Program, you become a member of the Koala Conservation Team and contribute to the future of this most cherished of species.

There are a number of conservation challenges facing koalas. In this region, koalas are threatened by the decline of their habitat, in particular in the manna gum woodlands. As their food trees die, there is a very real fear for the welfare of koala populations. The drastic decline of woodland health has been caused by koala over-browsing; causing tree canopy death, and suffering to the koalas.

The tour includes 3 hours of conservation and monitoring work per day (on the mornings of day 2 and day 3), the rest of the day is yours to enjoy exploring the conservation reserve, the Great Otway National Park, the local Great Ocean region’s attractions, or at leisure enjoying the facilities of the Great Ocean Ecolodge.

Eco Tour Highlights:

  • Get up close to Australian wildlife – including koalas, kangaroos and tiger quolls
  • Behind the scenes experience of conservation projects undertaken at the Conservation Ecology Centre
  • Join the Koala Conservation Team – help with koala research monitoring
  • Enjoy the surrounds and facilities of the Great Ocean Ecolodge
  • Explore Great Otway National Park
  • Exclusive guided interpretive walks
  • Nocturnal wildlife experience
  • Explore the local region (self-drive), including the Cape Otway Lighthouse and Otway Fly

Duration: 3 days
Departs: every Monday & Wednesday from September-April

Price: from $1355 AUD per person
Tour inclusions as noted below


Day 1: Self-drive to Great Ocean Ecolodge

Self-drive down the spectacular Great Ocean Road at your leisure. It takes about 4 hours to drive to the Great Ocean Ecolodge from Melbourne. Arrive at the lodge by 4pm, in time for afternoon tea, followed by a 2-hour guided walk to discover the conservation work taking place at the reserve and Conservation Ecology Centre (located on the property). View local wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, paddy melons and tiger quolls. LD

Day 2: Great Ocean Ecolodge / Great Otway National Park

This morning you will assist with koala research monitoring within the reserve and the beautiful Great Otway National Park. Experience an interpretive guided-walk focusing on the cultural heritage features of the landscape, followed by a nocturnal wildlife experience where you will get to see the sugar gliders and potoroos. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the local sights and attractions, or enjoy one of the bush walks in the national park. Or you can visit the local Cape Otway Lighthouse (self-drive), Otway Fly, or Apollo Bay – all just a short drive from the lodge.  BLD

Day 3: Great Ocean Ecolodge – self-drive back to Melbourne (or your next destination)

Assist with further Koala research monitoring within the Great Otway National Park during the morning. In the afternoon, say your final farewells and depart for your self-drive return journey to Melbourne at your leisure – on continue on your journey. B

B – breakfast   L – lunch   D – dinner


This tour is graded Moderate. Conservation activities involve walking within dense vegetation and humid climatic conditions.

Group Size

  • Maximum 10 people
  • Minimum age for participation is 14
  • Participants under 16 are to be accompanied by an adult
  • Departure is guaranteed, subject to 2 people travelling

Conservation Impact

All of Naturewise’s Eco Escapes allow you to play a vital role in the conservation of our natural environment, while enjoying some of Australia’s most spectacular places. All proceeds from the Conservation Experiences ensure the future of wildlife and the ecosystems which support them.

Conserving koalas and their habitat is currently a management priority for Parks Victoria, but very little is known about the local koala population. With thanks to a Healthy Parks, Healthy People grant the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) is carrying out long term surveys to assess koala population size and the condition of the habitat.  The Otways contains mixed habitat and more than one preferred koala food tree species, so this site provides a novel opportunity to gain insights into why some preferred koala food trees are in decline and to assess the determining factors behind local koala food tree selection.

Location and Transportation


This tour is located at the Great Ocean Ecolodge, within the Great Otway National Park in south-west Victoria. The park features diverse landscapes, with rugged coastlines and sandy beaches along the nearby Great Ocean Road.

Drive time from Melbourne to the Great Otway National Park is 4 hours. The tour is a self-drive experience; no transportation is provided.

Transfers from Melbourne can be arranged at an additional cost (minimum numbers apply).


Accommodation is at the Great Ocean Ecolodge at Cape Otway. An award-winning eco retreat, the Ecolodge itself is entirely solar-powered and ecologically responsible.

Each guest bedroom is private and peaceful, furnished with a comfortable bed, crisp clean linen, and timeless antiques. The ensuite bathroom is equipped with fluffy towels and a delicious assortment of locally made natural soaps and shampoos. The rooms overlook grasslands where kangaroos come to graze at dawn and dusk, and the Otway Ranges; or the well established kitchen gardens utilised for restaurant dining.

Facilities include 165 acres of grasslands visited by the kangaroos at dawn and dusk, woodlands where koalas doze, and a tranquil spring where you may see Yellow Robins, King Parrots and Yellow-Bellied Gliders.  The Great Ocean Ecolodge is proud to host the Nature Gallery, a collection of artworks created by local artists celebrating the natural beauty of the Great Ocean Road.


All prices are for 3 days, per person.

Double or Twin Share: $1355 AUD per person

2-night’s accommodation at Great Ocean Ecolodge • 3 meals a day • maximum 8 passengers • permits • Koala research activities 

Alcoholic drinks • items of a personal nature • travel insurance • travel to / from Melbourne departure point • meals and activities not included in program itinerary.

Departure Dates

Tours depart every Monday & Wednesday: from September to April

This self-drive tour starts at the Cape Otway Centre for Conservation. The program runs from September through to April. Transfers from Melbourne can be arranged at an additional cost (minimum numbers apply).

For booking information, feel free to email us.

Self Drive

Spend the afternoons exploring the region at your own leisure – we will be delighted to assist you with planning your excursions, and suggest local sights to see and do.


Download Booking Terms and Conditions

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