Wildlife Wonders in the Otways was the only Australian destination to make its way onto the list.
As international travel restrictions lift and the world slowly emerges from the pandemic, National Geographic has revealed its annual list of the 25 must-see destinations for the next year, with one local destination making the cut: Wildlife Wonders.
Opening in February this year (after originally slated to open to the public last year), the new ‘Wildlife Wonders’ eco-tourism experience gives visitors the opportunity to see local wildlife in a wild setting like never before – with each visit also supporting local environmental conservation projects.
The key takeaways
- The Otways’ Wildlife Wonders has been named in National Geographic annual list of the 25 must-see destinations for the next year
- Here, visitors can see wildlife in a wild setting like never before – with 100% of profits directed towards local conservation projects
- The project was designed to inject tourism into the region and boost employment locally
As the ONLY Australian destination to make its way onto the list, it’s an incredible feat for the local sanctuary to be recognised on a worldly scale as one of the five best places to enjoy nature, alongside safaris in Namibia, tropical wildlife spotting in Belize, volunteering at Lake Baikal in Russia and viewing the northern lights in Minnesota.
The respected publication celebrates a select list of the new, the different and the influential travel destinations in its Best of the World list each year. Curated by a global editorial team, the annual Best in the World is split into five categories: Nature, Adventure, Culture, Sustainability and Family, with Victoria’s Wildlife Wonders selected by National Geographic Traveller UK’s Connor McGovern.
He recommended driving the Great Ocean Road, where the Wildlife Wonders sanctuary in the Otways is playing an important role in Australia’s recovery after the bushfires of 2019-2020.
“Wildlife Wonders, in Victoria’s Otways region, is a new wildlife sanctuary tucked away off the Great Ocean Road amid lush ancient forest and waterfalls. It’s the brainchild of Brian Massey, the landscape designer of New Zealand’s Hobbiton movie set tours. Massey, along with botanists, scientists, zoologists, and environmental specialists, has crafted a sinuous wooden path that winds through the refuge and blends seamlessly into the landscape,” he said.
“Visitors can set off on 75-minute guided tours of the sylvan site, wandering through thickets of eucalyptus trees and admiring the koalas, wallabies, and bandicoots that now call the sanctuary home. During a stop at the Research Base, guests can learn more about how the site provides a safe space for native species like the long-nosed potoroo, a marsupial that often falls prey to invasive predators such as foxes and cats.
“All profits from Wildlife Wonders go toward the Conservation Ecology Centre, which helps to fund several vital conservation projects in the Otways, including one that studies the movement of potoroos before, during, and after planned forest fires.”
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The first of its kind Australian wildlife experience along the Great Ocean Road, here you have the opportunity to see these animals as never before, living freely in a protected bushland setting, while you enjoy the sights of a thriving Otways ecosystem.
As well as generating vital funding for wildlife and ecosystem conservation and research, the experience was also designed to inject tourism into the region and boost employment locally, made possible by a $2 million grant from the Australian Government under the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, a $1.5 million grant from the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund and funding from The William Buckland Foundation, The RE Ross Trust and local individual supporters.
Honouring national parks and wildlife, outdoor activities and experience, green travel and destinations going it right, and multigenerational destinations and journeys, making National Geographic’s annual list of the 25 must-see destinations for the next year is a huge accomplishment for any Aussie destination. Victoria’s inclusion comes after Lord Howe Island was the only Australian destination to make the 2021 Best in the World List for its impressive conservation efforts, with editors agreeing the isolated ecosystem is “the last paradise”.
Find out more about Wildlife Wonders here.
You can check out the National Geographic’s Top 25 amazing journeys for 2022 list here.