Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Reserve

The importance of the Koala Conservation Reserve cannot be understated with the koala population of Phillip Island being decimated by predators and human activity during the 1900's.

The reserve is managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Koala reaching for leaves at Koala Conservation Reserve on Phillip Island

The Koala Conservation Reserve began in 1991 on what had been farmland which included mature eucalypt trees. The Forrest family had also previously donated land to help with koala conservation.

Over time this land has been returned to its original woodland state.

The visitor centre has educational displays depicting koala history on the island, their life cycle and information on the breeding program.

After you have parked your car, take the time to look for the huge manna gum adjacent to the car park, to the left of the visitor centre.

This huge tree with a canopy of over 20 metres in diameter, is over 200 years old and therefore one of Phillip Island's oldest trees.

It has survived land clearing for farming and development.

Admire the beauty of its gnarly trunk and smooth white branches and reflect on the shelter it provides for the island's creatures.

Koalas were first introduced onto Phillip Island in the 1880's.

Although there are few koalas now in the wild on the island, the conservation reserve maintains a population to suit the habitat - a koala needs up to 100 trees to have a sustainable life.

Over the whole reserve there might be up to 40 koalas. How many there are at any one time also depends on the breeding season.

After leaving the visitor's centre, walk about 30 metres and then follow the sign to the Koala Boardwalk and Woodland Walk.

The Koala Boardwalk is a further 100 metres to your right.

The treetop boardwalks are wheelchair and pram friendly.

Before entering the Koala Enclosure, check the information board which gives the number of koalas that are in the enclosure at that time.

This makes a lot of fun for children, trying to locate and count all the koalas!

Map of Koala Conservation Reserve

This enclosure is for breeding koalas with several female and one male koala. This way rangers know the father of the joeys plus there is no fighting over territory.

In spring and summer, visitors can see the joeys in the mother's pouches or clinging to her back or belly.

Some koalas are very close - almost touching distance but some can be high up in the eucalypt trees.

The boardwalk looks out over wetlands where several species of waterbirds can be seen.

After exiting this enclosure, go straight ahead about 50 metres to the Woodland Enclosure where older and koalas recovering from illness live.

Here there is quite a difference in vegetation, with acacia and bursaria trees as well as eucalypts.

Some koalas are virtually at head height and almost in arm's reach - but please don't touch or shout!

Koalas sleep up to 18 hours a day and are nocturnal so don't expect them to be very active.

During the day they generally spend their time sleeping in the fork of a tree.

If you come across one of the rangers, they are happy to answer any questions about koalas and the reserve.

Entrance to Koala Boardwalk

Visitors can exit the Woodland Enclosure by a different gate which takes them towards the Woodland Walk. There is a map of the walks near the visitors centre.

Quick Koala Facts

  • koalas are nocturnal
  • grow up to 85cm tall and weigh up to 10 kg
  • a baby stays with its mother until one year old
  • get most of their moisture from eucalypt leaves, drinking little water
  • eat one kilogram of leaves a day
  • can store "snacks" of leaves in pouches in their cheeks
  • have two opposable thumbs for better gripping branches
  • a baby koala is called a "joey"
  • koalas have a life span of about 20 years


Apart from koalas, there are bushland walks meandering through the reserve.

These walks are suitable for prams and are not too long (about one kilometre)  so are great for families with toddlers.

Take a quiet stroll and look for swamp wallabies feeding or sleeping in the shade, or maybe an echidna scurrying away.

Other inhabitants are blue tongue lizards and nocturnal creatures such as possums and insect bats.

In summer always be on the lookout for copperhead snakes basking on the paths.

You can also test your koala spotting skills to find more koalas as they are not always in the tree-top boardwalk enclosures.

Click here for other Phillip Island Walking Tracks

Swamp wallaby

Birdwatching is also recommended, with possible sightings of over 100 species.

During spring look for breeding pairs of galahs preparing their nests in the hollows of eucalypts.

Colourful rainbow lorikeets and Eastern rosellas provide a spectacle with their noisy antics.

Tiny wrens flit among the undergrowth - some with vibrant colours.

The reserve is not big - allow around 2 hours to enjoy the koala viewing boardwalks as well as a stroll along the woodland walks.

The visitor centre has a café, shop and toilets.

Buy tickets for entry to displays, koala viewing and walks at the visitor centre.

Check out the 3 Parks Pass available at the counter.

The Koala Conservation Reserve is open from 10.00am to 5.00pm.

During the summer holidays Phillip Island Nature Parks runs koala-themed children's activities at the visitor centre.


Galahs preparing their nest at Koala Conservation Reserve

Galahs preparing their nest at the Koala Conservation Reserve

Want to cuddle a koala? Visit Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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