Take our Phillip Island tour from Melbourne to discover the unique Australian animals at Moonlit Sanctuary.

If you take our Phillip Island Day Tour from Melbourne, you can enjoy a visit to Moonlit Sanctuary. During your visit you can take a guided wildlife walk to meet and hand-feed many species of native Australian animals. 

Learn about Australia’s iconic species such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, and wallabies. But also discover some lesser-known unique Australian animals including quolls, owls, potoroos and water dragons. 

These mammals, reptiles and birds are unique to Australia. They are not as famous as the kangaroos and koalas Down Under, but they are special in their own right. From barking owls to potoroos, check out these fantastic Australian animals. 

Unique Australian animals at Moonlit Sanctuary

Long-nosed Potoroo 

The long-nosed potoroo is sometimes referred to as the Rat-Kangaroo due to its rat-like features including a bald tail and long snout.

These mammals live in wet and dense forest and coastal heathlands. It’s here that they feed on underground fruit and fungi, roots of plants, and insects.

Like kangaroos and wallabies, the long-nosed Potoroos are marsupials that breed throughout the year. Their babies are under-developed, without fur and blind when they are born. They live in their mothers’ pouch for approximately 130 days.

Spot-tailed quolls 

Spot-tailed quolls are scavengers. They feed on small to medium sized mammals, birds and reptiles as well as insects and carrion.

They are the second largest living carnivorous marsupial after the better-known Tasmanian Devil. The quolls are mainly solitary and nocturnal, sometimes roaming several kilometres in one night. Spot-tailed quolls are mostly found along the east coast of Australia. 

Red-bellied Pademelon

These solitary mammals are quite reclusive during the day, however when they feel comfortable, they’ll venture out into more open spaces to feed. Pademelons eat a variety of plants, including herbs, shrubs, shoots, grass and flowers.

There is currently a large population in the wild in Tasmania, however they were previously on the mainland of Australia as well. Unfortunately these wallabies are now extinct on the mainland because of predation by introduced red foxes. ​

Yellow-bellied gliders

These nocturnal mammals can be found in mountain forests along Australia’s east coast. However, their population has declined by 30% in recent years due to loss of habitat.

Moonlit Sanctuary has a breeding program for the yellow-bellied glider, and has had success in 2018 with twins; a rarity, and an achievement that was repeated in 2020.

Barking Owl

Barking owls get their name from the distinctive doglike ‘wook-wook’ call. They have an alarm call that early European settlers believed was the sound of a woman screaming. The barking owl hunts mainly by sight rather than sound.

Barking owls are found in open eucalypt forests, woodlands and tree-lined waterways. Loss of habitat and land degradation are major threats to the wild population with as few as 50 breeding pairs in Victoria.

Satin bowerbird

The satin bowerbirds have an interesting mating ritual.  The male builds a Bower which he decorates with blue items such as feathers, straws, bottle caps or flowers. He then performs a vocal dance-like courtship for a female. 

Males and females can be identified by their colouring – the male is a satin blue / black colour, however the females are olive-green. After mating, the female builds her own nest and incubates the eggs, whilst the male goes in search of another female.

Eclectus parrot

When it comes to unique Australian animals, the eclectus parrot fits the bill. They show extreme sexual dimorphism; males are bright green and females are red and blue. The males and females of this species look so different that they were first described as two different species.

Eclectus parrots can only be found in Australia in a small part of the Cape York Peninsula. They can also be found across New Guinea and the surrounding islands. These birds mainly eat fruits, seeds and nuts, but occasionally eat meat as well.

Tawny frogmouths

Tawny frogmouths are a nocturnal bird that has adapted well to its habitat. They can be found in many different areas and they rely on camouflage during the day, mimicking the appearance of a tree branch. 

The frogmouths are grey-silver in colour and have bright yellow eyes. Thee yellow interior to their mouths is used to attract insects when they sit with their mouths wide open.

Lace monitors

Lace monitors are dark grey with yellow banding and can grow up to 2 metres in length. They have long claws that allow them to climb and dig, plus a tail that is almost twice the length of their body.

Their diet includes insects, reptiles and small mammals. In addition they have been known to raid bird nests and eat the eggs. 

They are excellent swimmers with strong legs and a powerful tail, and they generally live in semi-aquatic environments.

Water dragon

The Eastern Water Dragon can be shades of grey, green or brown with a strong black band that runs from the eye to the ear. Whereas the Gippsland Water Dragon is generally lighter green without the black face band.

These reptiles are omnivores that eat fruit and berries as well as insects, small reptiles and frogs.

Spotted Tree Monitor

The Spotted Tree Monitor lives in hollowed trees and branches. Their green and grey spotted colouration helps them camouflage into their surroundings. In addition, these monitors are quite timid and therefore not often seen in the wild. 

They are carnivores that eat invertebrates, smaller lizards, frogs and even baby birds. ​However, their populations have been affected by the invasion of the Cane toad as they are unable to tolerate foreign toxins. ​​

What to expect on our Phillip Island Tour

Our Phillip Island Day Tour lets you experience the best of Victoria’s nature and wildlife – all in one day trip from Melbourne. Here are the highlights of the tour. 

  • A visit to the famous Brighton Beach boxes
  • A guided tour at the award-winning Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
  • Meet and feed a wide range of Australian animals including koalas, wombats, dingoes, and many more
  • Visit Point Grant to view the Nobbies and Seal Rock
  • Stroll the coastal boardwalks to enjoy amazing panoramic views
  • See the penguins waddle up the Phillip Island Penguin Parade at sunset


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au