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Why go to Raymond Island? The biggest draw-card are the koalas! Koalas were almost wiped out in the state of Victoria in the 1920s but 15 male and 26 female koalas were relocated from Phillip Island to Raymond Island in 1953. However, the koala population placed strain on the local environment so they have a strong management plan and relocate koalas as needed. Considering the island is only 6 km long by 2 km wide, the current population of 300 koalas makes koala spotting easy!
How easy is it to see the koalas?
Have a look in the photos below to see just how easy it is to spot the Koalas. You will see then in the front yards of houses, in road-side trees, near the playground…they really are everywhere! Sightings are pretty much guaranteed on the nature walk. When I took these photos I was at ground level with a regular camera.
The 1.2 km Koala Trail Walk is a great way to see the island. The walk starts at the main ferry arrival/departure point and is signed with bollards, rocks or signposts, so just keep an eye out for the markers. There is a map at the main information board near the playground, or purchase a book with map for $2 (book is a Landcare Fundraiser).
More than Koalas
While the Koalas are a major component of Raymond Island’s identity, you will also be treated with plenty of bird-life and might be lucky enough to see echidnas, kangaroos and wallabies. Reptiles like the blue-tongue lizard can also be spotted but they are pretty quick to hide!
If you are interested in orchids there are over 50 species on the island (based on information in the book!). Head to the Bairnsdale Field Naturalists website for information as I really wasn’t paying attention! I do actually love orchids but my eyes were on koalas!
There is also a lovely boardwalk that is part of the Koala Trail Walk and a chance to wander along small beachy shores.
Raymond Island is free to visit, and passengers are free on the ferry.
Please support conservation efforts and purchase a guide for only $2 from the Information Shelter near the playground. Seriously, $2 for a day out at a peaceful island is a bargain. Even if you don’t want the book just give them a donation!
Also remember that Raymond Island is a residential space, where the residents take great pride in sharing the area with the wildlife.
Raymond Island is accessible via car ferry from Paynesville, Victoria. The journey is only 200m and takes around 5 minutes to cross.
The ferry runs every 20 minutes and there is no need to book. Operating times are found on the East Gippsland Shire Council website and the departure location is well sign posted and easy to find.
We have never taken our car over to Raymond Island, just parked in Paynesville and walked around the island. There is plenty of parking around Gilsenan Reserve on Fleisher St and is only a short walk to the ferry.
Getting to Paynesville
Paynesville is around 3 hours 20 min from Melbourne and is an easy drive down the M1.
If you need Public Transport then catch the V/Line train to Bairnsdale. Then catch the V/Line bus to Paynesville.
Information on train and bus services can be found on the V/Line website or call 1800 800 007.
Tips for Visiting with Children
Enjoying a day at Raymond Island is easy with children as they will no doubt enjoy looking for animals. There are no food outlets on the Island so consider bringing a snack and water. Better yet, pack a picnic!
Public toilets are located at the playground where the ferry arrives/departs.
As cute and fluffy as they are, koalas can still scratch and bite so do not touch or get too close. This applies to all the wildlife on the island..and in Australia…and in the World!
Raymond Island Community Website: http://www.raymondisland.net/
Paynesville Business and Tourism Association: https://www.visitpaynesville.com.au/
Visit East Gippsland: https://www.visiteastgippsland.com.au/
Visit Victoria Gippsland section: https://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/gippsland/destinations