The weird and wonderful wildlife of Australia

What you looking at?  The Koala was one of several animals Mark Sainsbury and his daughter got to check out on their recent self-drive tour in Australia.
What you looking at? The Koala was one of several animals Mark Sainsbury and his daughter got to check out on their recent self-drive tour in Australia. Photo credit: Newshub

We know things are weird in Australia. After all, who would ever have thought up the Kangaroo? So when driving the Great Southern Touring route in Victoria with an animal mad daughter, the opportunities are endless.  In fact, we could have built our whole tour around strange animals.

Firstly, to put you at your ease, I think I only saw one snake the entire time we toured there and that one I would have missed if it wasn’t for our guide pointing it out.  

The Cockatoos are more of a danger, as my daughter discovered when she tried to get too close and personal.

The Walrus (a nickname borne from Mark's impressive moustache) and Arabella had close encounters with lots of cute and crazy animals in Victoria.
The Walrus (a nickname borne from Mark's impressive moustache) and Arabella had close encounters with lots of cute and crazy animals in Victoria. Photo credit: Newshub

The 'Roos and the Wallabies are genuine driving hazards but you just have to be prepared when on the road and the tricky areas are well identified.  But if you think the kangaroo is up there on the odd scale welcome to the land of the Platypus.

If you want to see a platypus or more, and we spent an entire day arguing if the plural was platypi or platypuses, then you have to make an effort. They only come out to feed an hour after dawn or just before dusk.   

The platypus is a little camera shy but dad and daughter saw plenty.
The platypus is a little camera shy but dad and daughter saw plenty. Photo credit: Newshub

This means an early start a short hike onto the national park and hooking up with Otway Eco Tours and Bruce who took us out on the small lake  to 'Paddle with the Platypus'. 

We were warned there was a 98 per cent chance we would see these reclusive creatures as they came out to feed, which in my mind meant we would almost certainly be the two per cent who missed out.  How wrong I was. We saw so many it was almost embarrassing.   Don't forget these creatures which are one of only two species of mammal that lay eggs, not to mention boasting  a duck's bill with an otter's body, were considered so off the planet when examples were sent back to London by early explorers, that the British scientists at the time thought they were fakes, created as a joke from random parts of other animals.

Tiger Quolls were spied by Mark Sainsbury and his daughter while driving the Great Southern Touring Route.
Tiger Quolls were spied by Mark Sainsbury and his daughter while driving the Great Southern Touring Route. Photo credit: Newshub

We had a blast watching them from a discreet distance and they would have remained number one on the weird list until we got to Dunkeld  and met Ingrid who rescues Tiger Quolls.   'What?' I hear you ask.   I had the same reaction, except Arabella knew better.  Tiger Quolls are relatives of the Tasmania Devil. They look like cute spotty baby opossums but don’t get near those jaws, these aren't potential pets.

The Squirrel gliders (which aren’t squirrels but do glide) might have been closer to that description but they are nocturnal and we elected to leave them sleeping.  Cute as they appeared.

So throw in some camels, llamas, wombats, koalas and tripping through OZ is less of road trip and more like driving through a gigantic zoo… albeit free range.

The team did a little bit of bird spotting too. This is the Night Heron.
The team did a little bit of bird spotting too. This is the Night Heron. Photo credit: Newshub

Mark explored The Great Southern Touring Route at the invitation of Visit Victoria.

It's a diverse and beautiful region with world class wineries, natural springs, coastal villages, peninsulas and historic towns.

There are also two other routes to explore. The Sydney Melbourne Heritage DriveGo Beyond Melbourne.

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