Natural Attractions of the Great South West Walk, Portland, and Nelson, Victoria, Australia

Natural Attractions

    The foot print of the Great South West Walk covers an area from Portland through to Nelson which has long been recognised as the western gateway to the Great Ocean Road.
    This area attracts many international walkers because of its diversity of natural attractions that are part of this amazing experience.

    Some features are permanent and are always visible while others such as the abundant native flora may only be seasonal or as with most of our animals, birds, reptiles, and marine creatures, they are more usually encountered by chance.

  • Natural Features.
  • Animals.
  • Birds.
  • Flora.
  • Marine-life.
  • Reptiles and Frogs.


    Natural Features

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                                       Ship Wreck Rock                                                       Discovery Bay                                                                         Moleside Creek

    The GSWW takes you past many naturally occurring land formations, sea scapes and places of profound beauty that are a delight for keen nature lovers and photographers alike.

    The walk also connects 4 of Victoria's South West National Parks.

    Some of the more notable features are listed below.

    • Lawrence Rocks
    • Yellow Rock
    • The Enchanted Forest
    • Bridgewater Bay
    • The Blowholes
    • The Petrified Forest
    • Mount Richmond and Lower Glenelg National Parks
    • The rugged Southern ocean along Discovery Bay
    • The Cobboboonee National and State Park
    • The Gannet rookery at Point Danger
    • Seal colony at Cape Bridgewater


               Sunset at the Blowholes

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    The Mammals listed below are known to inhabit the area.   Some are common but shy, while others are nocturnal and difficult to locate.     Keep your eyes open for footprints, scratchings and scats that will indicate the existence of particular animals.

    A hot spot for Koalas is the summit of Mount Richmond, while kangaroos and wallabies are fairly common and widely spread

  • Monotremes.

  • Marsupials.
    Red-necked Wallaby
    Eastern Grey Kangaroo
    Short-nosed Bandicoot
    Brush-tailed Possum
    Ringtail Possum
    Common Wombat
    Brown Antechinus

  • Placentals.
    Swamp Rat
    Bush Rat
    Water Rat
    Australian Fur-seal

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                   Galah                          Sulphur Crested Cockatoo              Emu with young                                Kookaburra                Azure Kingfisher (Glenelg River)

    Approximately 277 different species of birds can be found within the area that the GSWW is situated in.

    One bird in particular that is a virtual certainty to be observed is
    The Australasian Gannet. (pictured right)

    These birds can be seen on and around Point Danger, which is the site of the only Australian mainland Gannet rookery.

    The GSWW is unique in that it passes through a variety of vegetation and land form habitats. These range from marine habitats, cliffs and exposed rock faces, coastal dunes, inland waters, open forest, open scrub, heath and pastoral lands.
    The walk is a very enjoyable experience for those who can take the time to listen to the varied calls and observe the abundant bird life.

    During March 2009 on the long walk, one group of walkers who were also keen 'Twitchers' are reported to have recorded 110 different bird species on their two week round trek.  Their highlight was a flock of 62, highly endangered, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos.  Considering that many species are migratory and move with the seasons for breeding etc, this is a very worthy testament to our claim that the area supports a healthy bird population.

  • RAOU Birds of Australia.- The "nest" for Birds of Australia.

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    The Walk takes you through a variety of natural vegetation including forests, woodlands, heathlands, wetlands and coastal dunes.
    If you have a particular interest in a specific form of flora, you will require more research and further information as most orchids, wattles, fungi and wild flowers, bloom at different times of the year. The list of common plants below will be of some assistance in helping you to get started.

  • Tall Trees.
  • Pomanderris Family
    Manna Gum Hazel Pomanderris
    Brown Stringybark Dusty Miller
    River Red Gum
    Burr & Bramble Family
  • Medium Trees.
  • Native Raspberry
    Blackwood Bidgee-widgee
    Black Wattle Pea Family
    Coast Wattle Parrot-pea
    Golden Wattle Leafless Globe-pea
    Showy Bossiaea
    Native Cherry Orchid Family
    Soap Mallee Pink Finger
    Moonah Spider Orchid
  • Under Storey.
  • Helmet Orchid
    Heath Family Wallflower Orchid
    Coast Beard Heath Cinnamon Bells
    Common Heath Hare Orchid
    Flame Heath Greenhood Orchid
    Honey pots
    Sun Orchid
    Protea Family Others
    Beaked Hakea Sticky Boobialla
    Lavender Grevillea Giant Hop Bush
    Silver-leaf Banksia Kangaroo Apple
    Wattle Family Sweet Bursaria
    Spike Wattle Currant Bush
    Prickly Moses Rice Flower
    Boronia Family Guinea-flower
    White Correa Grass Trigger-plant
    Common Correa Black-anther Flax-lily
    Austral Grass-tree

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    The ocean off Portland is influenced by a phenomenon known as the Bonney Upwelling and is home to vast numbers of fish and other marine-life. These waters have long been recognised as a haven for sport and recreational fishing, diving and other water related activities. 
    During the autumn and winter months, many species of whale arrive including the largest of them all, the Blue Whale. 

    The Glenelg River which is Victoria's largest estuarine river is also a very healthy waterway, providing habitat and breeding opportunities for a large range of freshwater fish and water related creatures.

    Some of the species found in the river include.-


  • Mullet
  • Bream
  • Mulloway
  • Pigmy Perch
  • Hardyheads
  • Common Galaxias
  • River Blackfish
  • Blue-spotted Goby
  • Australian Smelt

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    Reptiles and Frogs

       Spotted Marsh frog                               Copperhead snakes mating             Blue Tongue lizard                           Skink                             Shingle Back lizard

    Reptiles and frogs are abundant in many habitats that the walk traverses. There are no crocodiles this far south to contend with, however ALL snakes that you may encounter are poisonous and should not be provoked. Snakes are also protected.

    Should you find yourself confronted by one, simply move back and allow it to feel safe enough to take its eye off you. It will then usually flee, if it has an escape route.

    Often one or more of the many different frog species can be heard calling, paticularly when you are near a frog friendly environment.

    Lizards Frogs Snakes Turtles
    Whites Skink Spotted Marsh Frog Copperhead Snake Long-necked Turtle
    Grass Skink Striped Marsh Frog Tiger Snake
    Three-lined Skink Common Froglet Red-bellied Black Snake
    Southern Water Skink Southern Brown (Ewings) Tree Frog Brown Snake
    Legless Lizard Southern Smooth Froglet
    Bearded Dragon Pobblebonk (Banjo) Frog
    Blue-tongue Lizard Growling Grass Frog
    Shingleback Common Spadefoot Toad

  • Alcoa Frogwatch.- An external site that has comprehensive information on frogs..

  • Frogs of Australia.- A link to an Australia wide site for information on frogs.

  • Amphibian Research Centre. - Link to a great Frog site.

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    © Copyright Great South West Walk, Portland, Vic. 3255 Australia