Paynesville is a pretty little town with really nice harbour and like most coastal towns the population swells in summer with holiday makers then lays almost dormant all winter long. Being the middle of summer Paynesville was very busy. The car parks were filled with cars, the boardwalk packed with people and the docking areas busy with boats. We had some really good fish and chips along the main street (a couple of times), an incredible vanilla slice, and one shop was so popular that we had to wait almost an hour for our food. But the real reason we visited was to see the koalas.
Yes koalas, those little cute teddy bear like animals that are only found in Australia and almost always on trees (or as roadkill on the side of the road as Rich says…terrible.) It usually isn’t easy to spot koalas in the wild which is why there are so many koala sanctuaries you can visit to see them up close and personal. But Raymond Island, situated right next to Paynesville, is full of them.
From the main street in Paynesville you can catch a ferry (free for pedestrians) across to Raymond Island (only about 5 minutes away). Once off the ferry you then follow the little koala footsteps painted on the ground to get to the start of the Koala Walk. This 1.2km walk created by local inhabitants, brings visitors on a very pleasant walk through the leafy residential neighborhood on the island that many Koalas call home. Walk looking up into the trees and you are bound to see your first Koala within minutes. On the full walk we saw about 20 without even trying, along with an echidna hanging out digging for ants on someone’s front lawn.
There are about 300 Koalas on the small island today, a number which is actively monitored to ensure it’s sustainable, as well as about 500 people living on the island. There are signs that clearly mark the trail and provide additional information about koalas.
When we returned to the mainland I did what I sometimes do, but most often regret doing in order to share with you fantastic places to see, I ordered a hot chocolate from a random café. Sometimes this works brilliantly and I discover new unexpected gems. But sometimes it backfires, which unfortunately was the case this time. I was travelling in a group with 7 adults who all desperately wanted a coffee fix, so we chose the café that looked most likely to have decent coffee. I had a sip of my hot chocolate, took a picture and threw it out. It was something hot chocolate like but not convincing enough for me to finish.
I also don’t often say this on this blog but where I wished I had gone for my hot chocolate was a little further down the street at Kelley’s Tea Parlor. By the time I got here I just couldn’t stand the thought of having another bad hot chocolate so I didn’t order anything but had plenty of time to enjoy the café while others did and by the end of our time there wish I had. The Tea Parlor used to be a flower shop but now is a colourful tea parlour. Because of her location away from the main street she doesn’t get as many people, especially in the quiet winter months, so she is thinking of selling and then opening a pop up tea room every summer. If she does I plan to visit and encourage you to as well because her current tea room is a magical place.
Verdict: I’ll say it, my hot chocolate was at Captovation so if you are a hot chocolate lover I might think twice. But if you happen to be over that way I highly recommend the little side trip to Paynesville to visit Kelley’s Tea Parlor and as an added bonus, they have real koalas in trees just across the water on Raymond Island, doing real koala things. Fantastic. Paynesville, Victoria, Australia