Flora and Fauna

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

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


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


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

Swamp Rat
Bush Rat
Water Rat
Australian Fur-seal


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 left).

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 landform 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 birdlife.

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.


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 wildflowers, bloom at different times of the year. The list of common plants below will be of some assistance in helping you to get started.

Marine Life

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.-

Pigmy Perch
Common Galaxias
River Blackfish
Blue-spotted Goby
Australian Smelt

Reptiles and Frogs

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.