The search for a wombat

For some reason Wombats hold a special place in my heart, so when we were travelling up Australia’s East coast I wanted to make time to see them in the wild. Wombats have a pretty crazy reputation for being dozy pests that burst into tents to steal your food in camp grounds across Australia during the night (something the two of us have definitely thought about after a night out) but it didn’t stop us wanting to see them.

While travelling the Great Ocean Road we met a really nice guy, Dave, in one of the communal hotels we stayed in who had recently become an Australian Citizen having moved from there from the UK. Dave was travelling Australia to see as much of his adopted country as he could and was more than happy to tell us all he knew. When asked about wombats he told us to visit Wilson’s Promontory National Park not far from Melbourne as he had a day trip there and left after dark and the road as he was leaving was covered in wombats! He also said it was a beautiful place to visit where all the locals camp.This was perfect as it wasn’t much of a detour from our already planned route which got us both incredibly excited about seeing wild wombats!

While on the Great Ocean Road we saw the only wild Koalas of our trip at Kennet River which was pretty amazing.

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Me so sleepy

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Unfortunately, although our trip to Wilson’s Prom was amazing we didn’t see any wombats. Day visitors have to leave the park before sundown and we had a 3 hour drive to our booked accommodation so we left in the early evening as it was getting dark. We did however see lots of other amazing native Australian animals;

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Tidal River next to the campground.
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Skippy?
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Crimson rosella-we think!
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What you staring at?
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Some Emu’s!

While travelling up the coast we wondered if we had missed our opportunity to see wombats. We searched online but we couldn’t find a location where we could definitely see them. We did discover a small wildlife park named Birdland Animal Park in Bateman’s Bay which we were driving through that takes in young orphaned wombats who have lost their mothers in road traffic accidents rears them and releases them back into the wild once they are fully grown!

You also get to hold them! Needless to say we definitely took the time to visit and got to meet to some very special people and animals.

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Karen with a 6 month old 35kg wombat

I  was even more lucky to get to cuddle Ruby Rose.

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Dreams do come true.

The work this small group do with rearing and releasing these animals is truly incredible, check out their Facebook page for more adorable pictures and information about the place. If you ever get a chance make sure you visit and help support the amazing work they do!

After our meeting Ruby Rose went back to sleep.

Although seeing these wombats up close and being able to hold one was amazing. We still felt we really wanted to see them in the wild. We searched the web again and although we couldn’t find a concrete location of where to see them the area Kangaroo Valley was continually repeated by various people on message boards and some people had even put up photos from this location.

We had a night booked in Canberra (mistake!!) and were moving on to the Blue mountains for a couple of nights and so this was our only opportunity to swing by Kangaroo Valley. It was a big detour to take but we thought it would be worth it to see wild wombats.

On our way to Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales Southern Highlands we stopped at  Fitzroy Falls where there are platypus to be found in the crystal clear river, shame the weather was so bad – as is typical of our travels – we could barely see the water or the path in front of us! Nonetheless from what we could see it was clear that Fitzroy Falls would be a pretty amazing place to spend time on a good day and time could be spent exploring Morton National Park as well.

The visitor center at Fitzroy Falls was pretty cool as we were able to pick up maps of Kangaroo Valley and get a bit of an idea where the camp ground that we had heard was the wombat hotspot was in relation to the town.

As we had arrived early afternoon we did have some time spare so we decided to go to Kangaroo Valley the town before heading out to hopefully see some Wombats. The town was adorable, a single street runs through it which is packed with world famous pie shops, a wood carving shop and various other convenience stores.

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Part of the main street.

We explored the shops for a while before stopping to have a world famous pie accompanied with mash and gravy and a hot chocolate before getting into our wet weather gear and heading to the Bendeela camp site about 15 minutes drive from the town.

We arrived in the campsite amidst pouring rain and a few people who had set up their motor homes in the only field that was open to stay in and waited for the rain to die down. After it had stopped we went for a walk around the area hoping to see some signs of wombats..

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The campsite

We didn’t see any- it was still too early for them but we did find lots of massive holes dug into the riverbank, there were definitely wombats here, dozens of them. We also saw lots of signs warning visitors to pack away their food properly or be prepared for a visit from a hungry wombat during the night.

After completing a few walks around the area with no signs of wombats even as it was getting towards sunset we started to get worried about turning up late to our accommodation in the Blue Mountains and upsetting our host but we decided this may be the last opportunity we had so lets wait it out and if we don’t see anything then at least we tried.

We decided to take one last walk along the river where all the wombat burrows were but again we didn’t see anything, we had almost given up and decided to walk back to the car when we saw what looked like a big rock bumbling around eating grass..

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We were so happy and kept quiet to get closer to watch this adorable animal..

Where there was one wombat, suddenly a second then a third appeared-before we knew it there must have been about 8 individuals in the field grazing however we kept watching the one right in front of us.

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As we were watching the wombats another couple joined us in the field. Unfortunately they had a tendency to get to close to the animals and use a flash on their camera which would scare them.

After they moved on the wombat continued eating unfazed by us but we thought we should leave them in peace as we still had a long drive ahead of us in the dark but it was well worth the detour.

Our tips for seeing wild wombats;

1.) The main areas to see these amazing marsupials are nowhere near the typical tourist locations in Australia (Wilson’s Prom and Kangaroo Valley seem to be two of the main places to see them) so you will probably need to drive out of your way to get there and as the animals are nocturnal you can only see them at dusk or dawn so ideally you would want to stay for the night in order to give yourself the best opportunity of seeing them. Kangaroo Valley was so cute- I would love to go back and stay there!

2.) Have respect for the wombats. We saw a few people approach them and scare them off. When watching them stand or sit to the side of them so they know you are there and stand or sit quietly making no quick movements. We found by doing this the animal actually was prepared to get really close to us while still acting naturally which made the experience even more amazing.

3.) Prepare for all types of weather. We found travelling to coast of Australia we were exposed to all kinds of weather and if we hadn’t had our boots and waterproofs with us we wouldn’t have been prepared to sit out in the rain watching wombats.

4.) If you do get the chance visit Birdland Animal Park in Batemans Bay. As I said earlier they carry out incredible work rearing and releasing orphaned wombats into the wild so support them by visiting if you can and it means you also get to hold a wombat and learn more about them.

Until next time,

Kirsten and Elliot.

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