Get back to nature and head off to some beautiful bushlands with plenty of wallabies thrown in - less than an hour away from Melbourne.
Let’s face it, if you are a foreigner and just landed in Australia the first thing you want to see are some kangaroos / wallabies in the wild. However, for us this was far from the reality when we first moved to Melbourne – there were plenty of skyscrapers but the only wallabies we managed to see where the ones in the zoo (and one dead one by the side of the road, but let’s not talk about that).
For sure, there are plenty of places you can go for some kangaroo spotting, such as the Grampians or Wilson’s Prom. But if you don’t fancy travelling far, one place ideal for spotting wallabies and other native Australian wildlife is in the magical bushlands surrounding the Royal Botanical Gardens, or the Australian Garden, in Cranbourne.
The Australian Garden is worth a visit in itself – the idea of the garden is to showcase the Australian flora and fauna in different settings from the dry inlands through to the coastal areas, as well as to give inspiration on how to use native plants in your own garden. It also includes a lot of waterways and rock pools - fascinating for kids!
But what I particularly love is the massive 363-hectare area of bush and wetlands with a huge array of native wildlife that surrounds the garden – already when driving into the area there are signs asking you to watch out for bandicoots, echidnas and snakes, getting you right in the mood for some wildlife spotting.
You are bound to see some wallabies spying on you in the bushes or just enjoying their lunch in the grassland areas. My daughter calls them the ‘wallaby spies’ - you’ll only need to look closely and there is always a face watching you somewhere.
Wallabies are not the only wildlife found in this area – snakes including copperhead and tiger snake are common so you need to watch your steps – we spotted a tiger snake a few weeks back basking in the sun. There are also plenty of birdlife including the pretty New Holland Honeyeater. Other commonly seen animals include the short beaked echidna and the southern brown bandicoot.
There are several walking tracks of different length and many of them are also ideal for biking with the whole family. The woodlands picnic area is a short walk from the carpark and ideal for relaxing after your walk. There are several free barbeques, a playground and plenty of grass area for games.
Overall the Royal Botanical Gardens in Cranbourne is a great place to visit – especially if you are keen to see some wildlife or have some overseas visitors in tow – but it is also a great place to get some fresh air, take a walk or bike ride or just to enjoy being out in the nature.
How to get there:
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Cranbourne is less than an hour away from Melbourne
Address: Cnr Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne, (off South Gippsland Highway). Melway Ref: 133 K10
PS: if you don’t fancy Cranbourne another great place for seeing kangaroos near Melbourne is the Yarra Valley, around Kangaroo Grounds – again only a short drive from Melbourne.