Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve sits inside an extinct volcano formed some 30,000 years ago.
Tower Hill Reserve was declared Victoria’s first National Park in 1892. The area is the site of a volcanic formation known as a nested maar and it is the largest example of its type in Australia. A dormant volcano and fascinating geological landform that will take you back some 25,000 years in time to the active volcanic era in the region, the different layers of rock and ash can easily be seen as you enter the reserve. The crater edge of Tower Hill provides excellent viewing areas of the lakes and cones within the crater and a picturesque, sweeping view of the nearby coastline.
Tower Hill is the ideal place for visitors to experience the Australian bush, enjoy magnificent scenery and landscapes while getting up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic native birds and animals including emus, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and seasonal reptiles. Wildflowers abound in springtime. The Reserve and its plethora of wildlife provides visitors with the rare opportunity to witness animals at close range in their natural habitat. This, combined with guided tours to learn about Aboriginal history and cultural heritage provides a unique eco-tourism experience.
In 1855 colonial era painter Eugene von Guerard painted Tower Hill and this magnificent painting was to become so important a century later. In the 19th century the reserve was cleared for grazing purposes, the animals and birds moved away and the land became degraded. Then in the 1960’s many volunteer groups banded together and started to replant native trees and understorey plants, they did this by using the magnificent von Guerard painting as a reference to identify the appropriate plant species. The trees and plants have now grown and matured, the birds and animals are back and the reserve has several walking trails that criss-cross the park.
Tower Hill is now home to more than 150 bird species, koalas, grey kangaroos, and emus. There are established walking trails, an educational information centre and a variety of different natural attractions. Koalas are in abundance and in the late afternoon you can usually spot a small mob of kangaroos. The cheeky emus show no fear of humans and will steal a sausage from the barbecues if given an opportunity. However, the rangers ask that you do not feed any of the animals.
Wander through more than 300,000 trees that provide a natural habitat for many animals. There are over 200 kangaroos and koalas in this tiny crater-bound ecosystem, and many live around the visitor car park. Boardwalks, nesting boxes and a birdhide have been constructed to assist bird watchers in catching a glimpse of many birds, including chestnut teal, musk dusks, and spoonbills.
A visitor centre designed by architect Robin Boyd is open daily. The local indigenous people the Worn Gundidj, who have a special connection to Tower Hill, have display of local cultural products in the visitor centre and also conduct guided walks through the reserve. A 90 minute interactive tour walk conducted by their experienced local guides provides and exclusive opportunity to explore the wildlife at Tower Hill and discover the natural habitat of some of Australia’s most iconic animals. Visitors will engage with guides and nature alike to gain an understanding of traditional Aboriginal lifestyles as well as learning how to identify native plants for food and medicinal purposes and throw a boomerang.
These can be booked by ringing 5565 9202 or you can book online here.
Entry to the park is free with the entrance easily located on the Princes Highway, midway between Port Fairy and Warrnambool. The park is open every day, and provides excellent barbecue and picnic facilities as well as toilets. Dogs (or pets of any kind) are not permitted in the park, and there is also no camping permitted within the reserve. There are no rubbish bins in the park, mainly so that animals will not tip the bins over looking for food and we ask that you take all rubbish away with you. Please note that in the event of extreme fire danger days, the park can be closed unexpectedly
The Tower Hill Visitor Centre is open Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm, Weekends & public holidays, 10am – 5pm
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.