For the 50+ Traveler

Koalas are magnificent marsupials native to Australia. And though you’ve probably only seen these elusive creatures in captivity, there are plenty of places where you can get up close and personal with them in the land down under.

A sleeping koala on Raymond Island.

Raymond Island

Raymond Island is a fantastic place to spot snoozing koalas in southeastern Australia, and sharp-sighted tourists who wander down Koala Trail will almost certainly catch a glimpse of these creatures. Koala Trail is roughly one mile long and relatively flat. You can easily traverse the entire walkway in 45 minutes, even while stopping for pictures. In addition to the koalas, you might get lucky enough to cross paths with a kangaroo or echidna!

Raymond Island is roughly 30 minutes from Bairnsdale (a 3-hour drive east of Melbourne) by bus. Ferries run to the island regularly, and once you arrive, there’s plenty of signage for Koala Trail.

A koala in a tree at Kennett River.

Kennett River

Koalas flock to Kennett River’s Grey River Road to feast on eucalyptus and catch naps in the high trees. The path is flat and shaded -- and a little less than a mile long. Plan to spend an hour or so koala spotting in Kennett River, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the native parrots that frequent the Manna Gum forest as well.

Kennett River makes for a great excursion from Melbourne. Take the train to Birregurra and a taxi or Uber to Kennett River. The entire journey will take roughly three hours.

Port Stephens

Port Stephens is a popular place to check out koalas in the wild because it’s exceptionally accessible. Just one hour away from Newcastle, Port Stephens’s naturally swampy environment is the perfect habitat for these adorable creatures. Koalas are protected in Port Stephens, and the population is consistently monitored. In fact, the town has an official Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management.

In addition to its many wild koalas, Port Stephens also has a sanctuary for injured animals.

A koala at Bimbi Park in Australia.

Bimbi Park

If you’ve ever wanted to sleep under the stars with wild koalas, Bimbi Park is the place for you. Bimbi Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s utopia, complete with hiking trails, untouched beaches, and plenty of wildlife. In addition to the koalas, you’ll see plenty of local birds and have the option of camping overnight in the company of wild creatures.

Pricing varies depending on what camping option you choose and when you visit the park. Since Bimbi Park is a relatively popular place to witness wild koalas, it’s good to book at least a few months in advance.

To get to Bimbi Park, fly into Melbourne and take the 2-hour train ride to Colac. Bimbi Park is 90 minutes from Colac by taxi or Uber. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive yourself to the park.

A koala at the Phillip Island Koala Reserve.

Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a brilliant place to see koalas in the wild because the built infrastructure is extremely accessible and allows people to get up close to the animals without preventing the koalas from living naturally. The Phillip Island Koala Reserve is composed of a system of human-friendly boardwalks and safe areas that let the koalas live undisturbed.

Phillip Island is a haven for plenty of other creatures, too, including penguins and sea lions. It’s a fabulous place to responsibly interact with nature and is just a few hours from Melbourne by car.

Koala on Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island

Despite its name, Kangaroo Island is an incredible place to spot koalas and plenty of other fantastic wild creatures. Spend the day wandering the island, and you’re bound to cross paths with sea lions, koalas, and kangaroos. You’ll also soak in plenty of pristine natural beauty in the process.

This spectacular natural utopia is accessible from Adelaide. The quickest way to get to Kangaroo Island is to take a domestic flight, though you can also drive and take a ferry.

Koala at the Featherdale Wildlife Park.

Protected Areas

You can also see koalas in one of Australia’s many protected areas.

Yanchep National Park in Perth, for example, is home to koalas and plenty of birds and also boasts caves to explore. If you want a unique one-on-one experience with a koala, check out Featherdale Wildlife Park’s Personal Koala Encounter. This supervised meet-and-greet lasts 5 to 10 minutes and is intimate and unforgettable.

Australia is the only place to see koalas in the wild. Don’t miss these magnificent creatures on your next trip to the land down under!

Want more cute Aussie wildlife encounters? Meet Australia’s adorable fairy penguins!