The Friday Five: great outdoor things to do this week… 10 August 2012

1. The Savannah Walkabout – one day Koalas & Kangaroos IN THE WILD guided tour!  This amazing tour showcases the icons of Australia – Koalas and Kangaroos in their natural habitats. At this time of year the roos are really active and breeding, so its pretty exciting.  It’s for small groups (2 to 8 passengers only) so it’s really interactive.  Great for kids, international visitors and locals.  Go to http://www.echidnawalkabout.com.au/en/tours/savannah for more details.

2. Westgate Park, just near the West Gate bridge. An easy walk from the Docklands along the Yarra River, this beautiful park is an example of what a dedicated group of volunteers can do with an old unloved quarry. You can now walk through River Red Gum woodlands, past lakes and wetlands, have a picnic, a run or a cycle and see some wonderful birds.  Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters are still in residence and fill the bush with their liquid notes.  Watch out for Great Egrets, tiny Black-fronted Dotterels and beautiful little diving Grebes – both Australasian and Hoary-headed.  You will usually find some volunteers working in the park and they are so helpful. Go to: http://www.westgatepark.org/

3. Raymond Island, East Gippsland.  Near Paynesville, in the Lakes National Park area, is a island sanctuary for wildlife. Koalas, Kangaroos, Wombats, Echidnas, Tawny Frogmouths, parrots and lots of other birds live wild on the island.  The human inhabitants love their wildlife, and the wildlife knows it – they don’t seem as scared of humans here as in other places. Winter is a great time to be here.  There’s very few people around, but everything is open.  My tip – stay 2 nights at one of the lovely accommodation options.  Take an early morning birdwatching walk, followed by a short trip on the ferry to Paynesville, a long, lazy breakfast, then back to Raymond for an afternoon nap! When you’re refreshed get out again to search for koalas and kangaroos in the late afternoon sunshine, but make sure you’re back near the ferry to watch out for dolphins as they come in at dusk.

4. Melbourne Sports Tours. Sport is just such a part of Melbourne.  I’m not a huge fan of TV sport, but even I get excited by the buzz around the MCG on a Footy night.  The crowds are fascinating, friendly and fun.  I love just driving or walking past it, and savouring the rivalry/camaraderie of it all.  Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you should check out these tours.  You’ll learn something, have a ball, and share the day or evening with a guide who is passionate about sport and Melbourne.  Go to: http://www.melbournesportstours.com.au/index.html

5. St Kilda Botanical Gardens.  This is my latest discovery.   A tip from a young birdwatcher sent me there in search of a rare little bird called a Pink Robin.  I found her, but I also enjoyed the whole park experience enormously.  They have patches of beautiful native bush, a tranquil rose garden, a pond.  There is a friendly and welcoming EcoCentre in one corner – walk in anytime from 9 to 5 to find information about the area, terrific books to buy, eco-friendly products.  Go to: http://www.foskbg.org.au/

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