If you are heading down near Warrnambool then consider a visit to the Ralph Illidge Sanctuary. Located approximately 1/2 hour from Warrnambool on the Warrnambool- Cobden Road this is a Trust for Nature property that is managed by a friends group.
Ralph Illidge, was photographer from Warrnambool, purchased the 40 hectare property in 1958. In 1975 to make sure that the property was protected and retained in its natural state, he donated the property to the former Victorian Conservation Trust which is now called Trust for Nature. There is about 101 hectares now under covenant made up mostly through a donation from Ralph Illidge with an annex purchased via donations.
There is a picnic area and signposted walks. The site features Manna Gum Riparian Woodland, Manna Gum and Messmate Open Woodland and Swamp Gum Woodland. The attractions apart from the vegetation are the chance to see Long nosed Potoroo or a range of birds including Powerful Owl, Rufous Bristlebird and White Goshawk. We were only there long enough to have lunch and take the creek walk and we saw a pair of yellow robins in the picnic area.
The Sanctuary was severely burnt during the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983. Fire demolished the original house and outbuildings and severely damaged the vegetation. Admission is by $2 donation and the Friends Group depends on donations and membership to undertake maintenance and improvements. Some of the Friends were at work when we visited, repainting some of the signs and tidying up around the information centre. The Sanctuary is closed on days of total fire ban but is open on weekends and public holidays between 11.00 am and 6.00 pm.
The Friends Group have a Facebook page so you can keep up to date on what is happening.