Phillip Island is a family adventure playground, an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne. There are activities and attractions to be enjoyed by all ages here, including spectacular coastal scenery, wildlife to view and beaches.
And also very busy during the summer school holidays. We booked into a caravan park on the outskirts of Cowes, the main township on the Island, and headed off with the three grandsons for five days of adventures.
The Nobbies, nesting Silver Gulls and Koalas
We prefer things natural and Phillip Island offers that in abundance. We started at the Nobbies, which is situated right at the western most tip of the Island overlooking Bass Strait. The point is called the Nobbies because of the rock formations in the shallows. Here visitors can explore the boardwalks along the cliff tops where silver gulls, Cape Barren geese and penguins nest.
The Antarctic Journey is located in the Nobbies Visitor Centre. This is an interactive experience of life in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. There are activities to educate and entertain. Then, as an amazing surprise, share in an audio visual spectacle as penguins, seals and orcas appear on the screen with you.
Next on our visiting list was the Koala Conservation Reserve. Treetop boardwalks provide close up views of Koalas as they go about their daily activities, which was mainly sleeping.
We also saw Koalas high up in some of the trees as we strolled along the bushland trail, as well as an echidna and a wallaby too.
Penguins and more
But the Penguin Parade at dusk is a highlight of any wildlife activity on Phillip Island and not to be missed. After a long day fishing, the Little Penguins form groups at the waters’ edge. Then they make a dash across the sand, to climb over the hills to reach their homes and chicks. You have to admire the tenacity and resilience of these hardy birds.
You can also see penguins on their pathways beside the boardwalks as they head towards home.
Since the penguin parade starts at sunset, it is wise to wear warm clothes and take a rug to sit on while you wait.
Churchill Island is a small island located just across a narrow bridge from Phillip Island. This historical precinct was the first farmed site in Victoria. Enjoy some farming activities here with blacksmithing, sheep shearing and working dogs amongst the offerings. And explore the historical buildings, grounds and gardens.
Churchill Island walks provide views over Westernport Bay as well as bird-watching opportunities.
Phillip Island – Family Adventure at the beach
But now it was time to hit the beaches and we headed for Smiths Beach. And so did a lot of others. As a popular beach, it is patrolled by life savers in the summer months. The boys were soon in, enjoying the surf and later exploring around the rock pools.
Smiths Beach is ideal for older children and adults. For families with younger children, Cowes beach facing onto Westernport Bay’s calmer waters is more suitable.
There are several walks on Phillip Island offering stunning coastal views of the beaches, cliffs and rock formations.
Cape Woolamai, the highest point on Phillip Island, is one of these. This walk starts at Woolamai, with a walk along the beach, before climbing the stairs to the loop walk on top of the cliffs. The lookout at the highest point provides expansive views of San Remo, Kilcunda and more.
Another clifftop track with some more spectacular coastal views starts near Pyramid Rock, another of Phillip Island’s sculptured rock formations.
Phillip Island also offers several touristy attractions including ‘Amazing Things’ and the Chocolate Factory where you will find Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate. Who could resist a tour through the chocolate making process that includes fascinating facts, interactive machines, free samples and a liquid wall of chocolate to amaze? – not us!
Entry tickets to the Penguin Parade, Churchill Island, Antarctic Journey and Koala Conservation Park are booked from https://www.penguins.org.au/buy-tickets/. Tickets can be individually purchased for each attraction or as a discounted package for all four.
We really had a fun time for five days. With its beaches, wealth of natural places to spy wildlife, walking trails and range of attractions, plus its proximity to Melbourne, Phillip Island really is the place for a family adventure holiday.