Phillip Island (26km by 9km) is a world of delights, just an hour and a half south east of Melbourne. Whether you’re interested in the nature side of things, something more fast-paced, or a great place to take the kids. However, don’t forget to take your wallet, you do have to fork out for the majority of activities.
Booking accommodation ahead is essential, as there is always something exciting happening at Phillip Island.
Top 10 things to do and see
Penguin Parade www.penguins.org.au
Watch the Little Penguins come in each evening from the sea as the sun sets. This is an absolute must-do at Phillip Island and something that you need to book for in advance. With over 2000 visitors attending each night, there are a range of tickets and tours on sale. There are 14000 breeding pairs and these little creatures are just sooo cute as they waddle their way up the sand, and, depending on the time of year, there is always something new to see, whether they are moulting, mating, or have young ones about.
The heart and soul of motor-car and superbike racing on Phillip Island. Ideally try and visit when there is an event on, with your entry pass you can wander to many different spectator points on the track. Whether or not you catch a race, it’s worth a visit to the History of Motorsport Museum and doing a tour which shows you all the behind the scenes places. For those who are seriously into motor sport, consider going in a Hot Laps car (this sets you back in excess of $200), or have a go on the mini-grand prix circuit in a go kart. Fun for all ages!
A slice of history on a 57 hectare working island farm in operation since 1872. Take the circuit walking track through the ancient Moonah Forests and follow the interpretive signs, check out the local farm animals including Clydesdale horses, highland cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens, peacocks, cape baron geese, the baby animal nursery and farming demonstrations.
There is a monthly Farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of each month, an Easter festival and Garden Lovers Festival in November. The visitor information centre has a great overview of the history of this tiny island, from there make your way to view the restored historic buildings and working farm. Entry fees apply to the historic area.
You can’t miss Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate as you drive toward Cowes. Yes, you get free samples, and of course you can purchase any one of the 190 varieties of chocolate, but no, it’s not just a chocolate shop. Take the tour and learn about Cocoa production, have fun with chocolate games and even make your own chocolate artwork.
Viewing the pelican feeding daily at 12noon at San Remo is free! A great activity for kids, watch from the shoreline as they gollup down whole fish. Head to the fishermen’s co-op before or after the activity for a great fish and chip meal.
Vietnam Veterans Museum
A very interesting exhibition including sound and light show that gives you a special insight into the Vietnam War. The museum is full of colourful and historical reminders of Australian participation in the war and the challenges faced by our troops. For history buffs or not, this is definitely worth a visit. Weaponry, aircraft, vehicles and equipment displays as well as war photos and an art gallery. (www.vietnamvetsmuseum.org)
The Nobbies is a spectacular headland from where you can view Australian Fur Seals at Seal Rocks, walk on the boardwalks and participate in interactive displays of local wildlife and marine exhibits. Open every day, the centre closes an hour before sunset. View the interesting rock formations, blowhole and colourful succulent vegetation.
More wildlife experiences
Apart from the Little Penguins, there are a range of other wildlife experiences including seals, koalas and short-tailed shearwaters. The 3 parks pass includes access to the Koala Conservation Centre. Alternatively, French Island is just a ferry trip away and a great place to spot koalas, birds of prey, echidnas and local flora.
Great surfing is available on Phillip Island including surf clinics and tournaments. The south coast can be dangerous due to strong winds and rough seas. There are a variety of patrolled beaches for visitors for safe access, and the north side of the island offers more sheltered bays. Dogs are allowed, leashed, on many o the beaches from May through to November.
The Phillip Island fishing industry is based at San Remo, however for shore-based fishing check out the jetties at Cowes, Newhaven and Rhyll. The Western Port is home to flathead, snapper and whiting and you can hire boats or launch your own at many places into the bay. Surf fishing on the southern side is also popular.
For families, or those new to fishing, the Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm (www.rhylltroutandbushtucker.com.au) may be your best bet, with fishing instructors on hand.
A fabulous family location, lots of fun with plenty of education thrown in too. International visitors and nature lovers will also find plenty to do on Phillip Island.
When to go?
Any time of year is great for Phillip Island as there are such a range of both indoor and outdoor activities and always something new to see at each change of season.
How to get there?
Around 200km from Melbourne on M1 and then M420, the South Gippsland Highway then onto the A420 and then the B420 across the San Remo bridge to Phillip Island.
How long to go for?
A weekend would be the minimum, but, being so close to Melbourne this is a popular weekend away, so if you can visit mid-week you’ll encounter smaller crowds. To see and do everything on Phillip Island, you’d need a week or more.
Where to Stay? – There is a huge range of accommodation available in various towns on Phillip Island including Cowes, Ryhll, Newhaven, San Remo, Ventnor, Sorrento and Portsea
For visitor information go to www.visitphillipisland.com, however, once you get there, most of the main attractions and accommodation have local visitor information handy.