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Nature & Wildlife

In a region that is best known for the pristine natural environment, there are loads of ways to get back to nature or have encounters with wildlife.

Nature puts on an exhilarating show at every turn on the Great Ocean Road.  With sparkling ocean one side and towering rainforest the other, it is a truly breathtaking journey.

The natural environment is just as spectacular in the water, with world class scuba diving sites and an amazing diversity of marine life right around the coastline.  Swim with the dolphins and seals at Queenscliff, snorkel at marine sanctuaries throughout the region or dip a toe in the water at any of the beaches - this is nature at its dramatic best.

There is plenty of wildlife to be seen in the region.  There are wild koalas throughout the Otways, particularly around Kennett River and Wye River.  Scores of kangaroos share the Anglesea Golf Course with club toting players.  After dark, glow worms come to life in the Otways.  And the elusive platypus can be seen at dawn or dusk on Lake Elizabeth.

There are zoos and sanctuaries in the region too.  The Werribee Open Range Zoo takes visitors on an African safari.  Jirrahlinga in Barwon Heads is a wildlife rescue centre with lots of native animals to view. 

Alternatively, take yourself off the beaten track and explore the 10 waterfalls within 10 kilometres of lovely Lorne, with the help of the Lorne Walks and Waterfalls guide. 

Highlights

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

Located near the mouth of Barwon River, Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary protects 17ha of predominately composed of reef. The eastern half of the reef is basalt, formed from lava flow, and is exposed to the flow of the river. The western side is old sandstone and influenced by ocean swell. On the outer edges of the reef are the wrecks of two ships. The variation in conditions across the reef results in the presence of a huge diversity of plants and animals. Visitors can see anything from feather stars and barnacles to rock lobsters, rays and schools of fish. Bull Kelp, sandstone arches and sponge gardens create a fascinating and complex underwater world. Before you go Conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.

jirrahlinga-koala-wildlife-sanctuary

The Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on five acres of land on the Northern edge of Barwon Heads. Jirrahlinga, Aboriginal for 'Seek a home for a kangaroo', was established more than 30 years ago by Tehree Gordon to be a haven for injured wildlife. Following the Ash Wednesday Bush fires in 1983, Jirrahlinga received national and international media coverage acclaiming the rescue mission launched to seek out and treat shocked and burnt animals. However, Jirrahlinga is not just for distressed native animals, it is primarily about people. Particularly people who have a disability, a special need, the frail or the aged. What better therapy could there be than to come into a supportive environment to work quietly with animals or just visit and touch a koala or joey that do not place demands on a person's physical or mental capacities.

Barwon Heads Bluff

The tidal flows at the mouth of the Barwon River have created an amazing landscape at the Barwon Heads Bluff. It is one of the best spots in the region to observe marine life in rockpools. More than 90% of the creatures found at the Bluff are only found in Southern Australia and nowhere else in the world. The Bluff has an enormous diversity of seaweeds from tiny encrusting pink coralline algae to mighty forests of giant and bull kelps. There are many different species of fish, snails, seastars, and other invertebrates that all make the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary their home. The high lookout at the bluff has views towards Port Phillip Heads to the east and along the Surf Coast to the West.

Ocean Grove Nature Reserve

The Ocean Grove Nature Reserve is the only preserved native woodland on the Bellarine Peninsula. Home to 178 species of native plants, including 22 orchids, the reserve is an important tract of land. Wildlife within the reserve includes wallabies, echidnas, possums and koalas. There are also snakes and lizards, as well as some 167 species of bird recorded as being spotted within the reserve.

More Than A Tour

More than Tour offer their local knowledge will give you the very best opportunity of seeing a range of beautiful native animals in their natural environment. Short walks to the scenic attractions, lookouts, beaches and rain forests will be on well-defined tracks and board walks and requires a moderate level of fitness. Their guides will accompany you on all walks and your safety is their priority. Being a boutique tour company they will confirm your pick up point, departure and return times prior to departure. More Than A Tour also offers a Door to Door Service from Geelong & District. More Than A Tour can tailor make tours to satisfy your groups desires, including Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island Penquin day tours. Discover the beauty of the Bellarine including special experieinces to swim with dolphins or simply sit back and enjoy a boat ride to explore the treasures of Port Phillip Bay from Queenscliff. Contact More Than A Tour for more details.

SEAROAD FERRIES QUEENSCLIFF

Searoad Ferries connects the Great Ocean Road and the Bellarine to the Mornington Peninsula, the 40 minute crossing is a stress free alternative to driving through the city. Two specially designed all weather 60 metre ferries have easy drive on/drive off facilities, spacious comfortable lounges with full-length windows, a tempting cafe and plenty of deck space. Watch out for dolphins, whales in winter and enormous ships as you breathe incredibly fresh air. Arriving at Sorrento, you will have a perfect view of multi-million dollar mansions sitting atop cliffs, tiny coves filled with boats, the beautiful foreshore and old limestone buildings. Whether you are going home or on a journey far away, there's no better way to see the bay than with Searoad Ferries. Passengers with vehicles are advised to arrive at the terminals at least 20 minutes prior to departure. The ferries depart from Queenscliff Harbour, Queenscliff and the Sorrento Pier, Sorrento. Special Features on the 40 minute journey are the unparalleled views of historic lighthouses, the Point Nepean fortifications, navigational features, seals and dolphins are available from the comfortable lounge areas, cafe style seating or numerous observation decks. Both vessels are fully equipped to cater for passengers with disabilities, including an internal lift from the vehicle deck to the passenger lounge. Coaches may be booked ahead. Seven days notice is advisable to secure passage.

The Surf Coast Walk

Whether you're a nature lover or a fun lover, whether you take an hour, a day or a week, the Surf Coast Walk puts a stunning and unique coastal environment within easy reach. - Offering natural beauty and easy access - A world-class walking destination for all to enjoy - On the edge of the stunning Great Ocean Road - Do a section or do it all; at your own pace - More than a walk, over half the track is suitable for bikes Relish the rich ochre of the Bells Beach cliffs, the deep blue of Bass Strait and the leafy green of eucalypt forects. Discover traditional Wathaurung country, fascinating surf culture and abundant wildlife as the walk connects you with the coastal town comforts of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.

Torquay Walking Trails

There are several designated walking trails offering a different perspective on Torquay. The foreshore trail, beginning at Deep Creek Reserve on the Esplanade, takes in spectacular coastal views, children’s playgrounds and public art. The Surf Coast walk is a 30km long marked trail and individual sections can be completed depending on energy levels. It begins at Jan Juc and passes through Bells Beach, Point Addis, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven and Torquay. A complete guide is available from the Torquay Visitor Information Centre. The Deep Creek Reserve is a strip of land extending along the watercourse between the Surf Coast Highway and The Esplanade. It is the last remnant of Torquay’s indigenous vegetation and there are walking tracks throughout the reserve.

Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens

The Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens were founded in 1985 as a not-for-profit community organisation to support the beautiful Geelong Botanic Gardens. The Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens support and celebrate the Geelong Botanic Gardens as a place for plants and people, discovery and learning, ideas and innovation, engagement and pride, conservation, environment and quiet contemplation. The Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens provide a range of on-site activities for the members as well as the public. These include the 'Growing Friends Nursery' open every Wednesday from 10 until noon at the rear of the Geelong Botanic Gardens and seasonal weekend plant sales. Guided walks in the Gardens through their Discovery walk series including free guided walks on Wednesdays at 11am and Sundays at 2pm. Meet your guide at the front steps of the gardens. Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens have a year round program of events and activities for both members and the public. Maintenance of the Perennial Border and Rose Garden, Growers Nursery and Botanic Art Classes. Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens provide financial support to the Geelong Botanic Gardens. Please subscribe to Jubaea, Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens quarterly newsletter for more information about what's happening at the Geelong Botanic gardens by visiting their website.

point-danger-marine-sanctuary

Located in Torquay, one of Victoria's favourite seaside towns, the reef is ideal for snorkelling and exploring the diverse marine life at low tide. The area between Torquay's back and front beaches is formed of beds of crumbling limestone and a narrow rock platform which extends to the west. A small reef which is only exposed at the lowest of summer tides lies just offshore and is often isolated from the beach by a deep sandy channel. One shipwreck is found within the park, the Joseph H. Scammell. The limestone reef is an enthralling feature of this park. Covered in small boulders and intricate seaweed beds, the reef is home to a number of weird and wonderful creatures. Most noteworthy is the huge diversity of seaslugs, currently 96 species known to occur in this sanctuary, many of which are endemic. These fascinating creatures can be any colour of the rainbow and come in a range of exquisite shapes and sizes. Also present are carnivorous worms, delicate brittle stars and majestic eagle rays. See if you can spot a Fairy Tern, a rare and endangered bird which uses habitats in Point Danger Marine Sanctuary for feeding and roosting. Before you go, note that conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.

Longhorn YOUnique Tours

Longhorn YOUnique Tours is a 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award winner. They travel to the Great Ocean Road, the Otway's Rainforest, Grampians, Phillip Island, the Yarra Valley and can also customise a tour to suit. You will see spectacular scenery, wildlife in their natural environment, learn about the area's history and culture, enjoy homemade treats and great accommodation as Longhorn's expert guides take you on a journey of discovery. Eco Tourism and Respecting their Culture accredited, Longhorn YOUnique Tours is a family owned business operated by Garry and Shirley Hamel, two Australians who know and understand the beauty of the country they live in. With a range of tours from one day to multiple day tours and private or customised tours to choose from. Longhorn YOUnique Tours believe that guests should not feel rushed so their tours are conducted in small groups travelling in luxury four wheel-drive vehicles with your comfort and needs a top priority. A maximum of six people on each tour will give you a personalised experience to remember. Longhorn YOUnique Tours are part of the Extinction Fighters program and have adopted a Tasmanian Devil at Healesville Sanctuary. Fee wireless internet onboard all tours. Contact the friendly staff at Longhorn YOUnique Tours to enquire.

Sea All Dolphin Swims

The popular and award winning Sea All Dolphin Swims of Queenscliff is a family owned business which offers a truly unique marine experience on Port Phillip Bay. Where else can you snorkel with wild dolphins and seals and colourful reef fish all on the one cruise. With a clever blend of fun adventure and education, the friendly crew at Sea All Dolphin Swims cater for passengers of all ages, sizes, shapes and abilities. With modern wetsuits, equipment and light refreshments supplied its no wonder the tours are so popular with international visitors heading down the Great Ocean Road. Learn snorkelling in safe shallow conditions from patient and caring instructors. Interact with wild dolphins and seals while learning about their habits and environment. Snorkel in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park and view coloured reef fish, sea stars, coloured sponges and a kelp forest. View unusual sea birds and a unique gannet rookery with fluffy white chicks. Experience the early maritime and military history. Hear expert interpretation and tales from experienced guides. Relax with a hot chocolate while sharing your adventure with a new friend. Experience the thrill of the boom net or enjoy the duckboard spa at the rear of the boat. Challenge yourself in our ritual jump from the boats' roof at the end of the cruise. Take home fabulous photos of unique wildlife and happy friends and an experience you will remember and talk about for ages.

Balyang Sanctuary Geelong

A haven for waterbirds and popular with picnicking families, Balyang Sanctuary is situated in Geelong suburb Newtown. The centrepiece of the nine hectare park is a lake with three islands – two connected by bridges and the third retained as a safe nesting place for native birds. Feathered residents at the sanctuary include swans, pelicans, Eurasian coot, dusky moorhen, Pacific black duck, mallard, pied cormorant, geese and silver gulls There are also shady grassed areas, picnic areas, a rotunda, free parking and public toilet facilities.

Barwon River Geelong

From its beginnings in the Otway Ranges, the Barwon River winds its way through suburban Geelong before flowing into the ocean at Barwon Heads. The Barwon River is the site for a huge number of leisure pursuits for Geelong residents. There are several rowing clubs located in Belmont, and a little further south there is an area for waterskiing. At various points along the river as it runs through Geelong there are tracks for running, cycling and walking. There are also several parks, playgrounds, picnic spots and BBQ areas. The mouth of the river has sandy banks that are well used walkers and families who build sandcastles and paddle in the shallows. Fishing is popular on the jetties near the mouth of the river and kayakers and paddlers are often seen in this area. Barwon Heads also has a sailing club where laser yachts are often seen at high tide. There are also BBQs and picnic areas alongside the riverbank.

Eastern Park

Eastern Park is 185 acres of sporting facilities, walking tracks, parkland and recreation space. Located on the edge of the Geelong CBD and bordering the Geelong Waterfront precinct, it’s a fantastic spot to enjoy fresh air and outdoor activity. The gravel track around the park is used by many locals for jogging, walking and cycling. There are 5 hard wicket cricket ovals as well as pavilions, BBQs and playgrounds, including the award winning Geelong Playspace.

Geelong Botanic Gardens

The Geelong Botanic Gardens are a wonderful mix of old and new featuring traditional heritage gardens as well as the contemporary and waterwise 21st Century garden. The gardens were established in 1851 and as such feature fabulous mature trees, including some rare and exotic. Within the 17 acre space there are rose gardens, shaded lawn areas perfect for picnics, a teahouse. There are also regular guided walks exploring different aspects of the gardens and special interest areas.

Jerringot Wetlands Geelong

Jerringot Wetland is a freshwater marsh within Belmont Common and is part of the Barwon River's natural floodplain. It is a surprising sanctuary for wildlife within an urban setting. Over 120 species of birds visit or live at Jerringot through the year. The internationally significant Latham’s Snipe fly 20,000km from Japan to south eastern Australia and can be found in good numbers during spring and summer. Other significant species include the Australian Shoveler, Hardhead, Baillion’s Crake, Cattle Egret, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Great Egret. It is an excellent habitat for frogs, including the endangered Growling Grass Frog. Native fish such as Common and Spotted Galaxias and the rare Australian mudfish find a home in the waters as well as many aquatic plant species. River Red Gum, River Bottlebrush and Teatree, as well as thickets of Tangled Lignum fringe the river side of the wetland.
 

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Packages & Offers

Twilight Cruise - Searoad Ferries

Take a stroll on the viewing decks, sample some of the regions finest produce, all in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge.

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.

Drive In + Chill Out at BIG4 Beacon Resort

Drive In + Chill Out at BIG4 Beacon Resort.

Legendary Blues Train Weekend: Stay & Play, Save 50%

A unique musical experience! Toe tapping entertainment, cool drinks and a good laugh.

Seahaven Village - Taste of The Bellarine $495

Relax at stunning Barwon Heads Friday and Saturday night in a cosy 4.5 star one bedroom spa suite.

Barwon Heads Golf Club - Winter Escape with Free Golf

$240 per couple per night

Girls Indulgence Getaway

Reboot your life with an indulgent Girl's Getaway.

Twilight Cruise - Searoad Ferries

Take a stroll on the viewing decks and find the best spot to capture the setting sun. Sample some of the regions finest artisan products from both the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas. Enjoy a regional produce platter with an award winning wine, locally made ale or cider, all in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge.

$35.00 per person (includes return sailing between Sorrento and Queenscliff)

Every Friday and Saturday from April to December
4pm sailing from Sorrento
5pm sailing from Queenscliff

To book visit www.searoad.com.au or contact 03 5258 3244

 

High Tea on the High Seas - Searoad Ferries

Experience High Tea on the High Seas in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff Sorrento Ferry.
Enjoy table service in elegant surroundings, exquisite food, quality tea and real coffee!

$40.00 per person and includes immediate return travel on the same ferry for a leisurely experience.

Every Sunday from February to November
12pm sailing from Sorrento
3pm sailing from Queenscliff.

To book visit www.searoad.com.au or contact 03 5258 3244

 

Drive In + Chill Out at BIG4 Beacon Resort

$317 for 2 adults & up to 2 children (save 60%)

  • 2 nights in a Lonsdale Villa
  • Unlimited Mountain Bike Hire
  • Unlimited DVD Hire
  • A daily Espresso Coffee or Hot Chocolate per person
  • A bottle of local wine
  • Free Daily Kids Activities
  • An extra Long Late Check-out to 6.00pm

Plus get two LI'TYA Deep Ocean Renewal Facials for the price of 1 at the resort's Mud Day Spa (save $120)

And there's plenty of indoor fun at the resort with an indoor heated swimming pool and 8-seater spa, an indoor toddler playroom and a games room. Add another layer of clothing and there's even more to explore outside! BIG4 Beacon Resort is the ideal base to check out Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale.

Phone 1800 351 152 or Book Online.

Terms and Conditions: Offer expires on 31/08/2014

 

Legendary Blues Train Weekend: Stay & Play, Save 50%

A unique musical experience! Toe tapping entertainment, cool drinks and a good laugh. Make a weekend of exploring Queenscliff with 2 nights’ accommodation at the award-winning BIG4 Beacon Resort including Blues Train tickets, return transfers to the event, buffet breakfast, 6pm checkout, local discounts and more.

Only $487 per couple.

Phone: 1800 351 152 or visit BIG4 Beacon Resort for more information.
 

Seahaven Village - Taste of The Bellarine $495

Relax at stunning Barwon Heads Friday and Saturday night in a cosy 4.5 star one bedroom spa suite. Enjoy fabulous bonuses including:

  • A $70 dinner voucher
  • Welcome pack including wine, chocolates and a breakfast basket
Stay between Sunday and Thursday nights and receive THREE nights accommodation for the same price.

T: 03 5254 1066
 

Barwon Heads Golf Club - Winter Escape with Free Golf

This winter, guests who book a standard room at our normal Bed and Breakfast rate play golf for free. Want an even better reason to take a break? The Club is rated one of Australia’s Top 10 public access courses.

From $240 per room per night.
($120 p/p twin share)

  • Accommodation in a standard room with ensuite at Barwon Heads Golf Club
  • Fully cooked breakfast
  • A complimentary round of golf each person (normally up to $85 each).

Address: Golf Links Rd, Barwon Heads, Victoria 3227

To book:

Phone: 03 5255 6255
Fax: 03 5255 6266
Website: www.bhgc.com.au
Email: reservations@bhgc.com.au

T&C's: Valid Sunday to Thursday inclusive. 1st June to 31 August 2014. Dress requirements apply on course and in the clubhouse.
 

Girls Indulgence Getaway

Reboot your life with an indulgent Girl's Getaway. When life gets a little overwhelming, an escape with your best friends can be the best way to share some uninterrupted catch up time, a little relaxation and, of course, some well-deserved indulgence on looking after you.

$798 is for 4 people ($199.50 per person) and includes:

  • 2 nights accommodation at Beacon Resort in a Curlewis Villa
  • A Food Purveyor "Little Extra" Hamper (special treats from our region including jams, chocolates, tapenade and much much more)
  • 1 x bottle of Jack Rabbit Sparkling
  • 4 x 60 minute relaxation massages in our day spa
  • Return transfers to a venue of choice (within 3225 postcode area during your stay)
  • Unlimited DVD Hire
  • 12 noon check-out

This offer is valid until the 20th December 2014; No further discounts apply; Some exclusion periods to apply; Package is subject to availability at the time of booking.

 
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