Start: Tilligerry Habitat Visitor Centre
End: Tilligerry Habitat Visitor Centre
Time taken: 1 hour
USP: Native wildlife and plants
Distance: 2.5km round trip
Tilligerry Habitat is a wildlife haven, hidden away down side streets and back roads. We came across it while enjoying a long weekend in Shoal bay, Port Stephens. During a cup of coffee around the tents, one of our group asked if we would see any Koalas. A quick Google of ‘Koalas in NSW’ and ‘Port Stephens’ told us Tilligerry Habitat would be our best bet.
The reserve is a small patch of managed native scrub. A boardwalk meanders around a marshy area in the middle, and borders an estuary to the north with gnarled fallen trees, bleached white by the sun. Out on the sand flats, platoons of crabs run around in packs, chasing the tide as it moves in and out each day.
The 45 minute loop around the reserve starts and finishes at the visitors centre. This is a great place to drop in and chat to the helpful volunteers and get some advice on the last known location of our intended quarry. While getting a map of the best places to spot furry, tree hugging marsupials we were also shown the location of a Tawny Frogmouth, perfectly camouflaged in a nearby tree.
Out on the circuit we followed our map and quickly found a Koala napping peacefully in a tree. And next to him was another Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a nest. Two of Australia’s most iconic animals, less than a meter apart!
Back onto the boardwalk and the bushes around us were full of birds. Variegated Fairy Wren, Silver Eye, Thornbills and a new one for us, White Throated Gerrygone. Once we reached the northern side of the circuit we skirted along the edge of the estuary, with beautiful views across the harbour.
What Tilligerry lacks in size, it makes up for in quality of wildlife. Definitely worth pulling off the highway to check out if you’re ever in the area.