things to do in phillip island: Nestled off the coast of Victoria, Australia, Phillip Island is a gem of natural beauty and cultural significance. This charming island, just a short drive from Melbourne, offers a myriad of activities that cater to diverse interests. From pristine beaches and wildlife encounters to culinary delights and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone on this enchanting island.
Phillip Island lies just off the southern coast of Australia, an easy two-hour drive from Melbourne. Its breathtaking landscape is a natural haven, boasting stunning coastal vistas and dense bushland. One of its major draws is the Penguin Parade, a renowned spot housing the world’s smallest penguin, the Little Penguin.
This island holds historical significance as it hosted Victoria’s inaugural farm, pioneering 19th-century farming techniques in the country. Moreover, it was declared Victoria’s primary National Surfing Reserve, offering an abundance of coastal gems for surfing enthusiasts.
An ideal day trip from Melbourne, Phillip Island offers both one-day visits and weekend getaways, catering to various preferences and time constraints.
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The History of Phillip Island
The Indigenous People of Phillip Island
The original inhabitants of Phillip Island were the Bunurong, an Aboriginal tribe. They didn’t establish permanent settlements on the island but used it as a hunting ground, particularly during the muttonbird season.
Phillip Island’s European Discovery
The first European to discover Phillip Island was George Bass in 1798. He named the surrounding area Western Port, having first spotted the island from the west as he traveled down from Port Jackson. The island was later named after Governor Arthur Phillip, the inaugural Governor of New South Wales.
European Settlement on Phillip Island didn’t occur until 1868, when settlers decided to establish a presence. They primarily used the island for sheep herding and seal hunting until then. Unfortunately, the early settlement faced various challenges, including harsh conditions such as drought and crop failures. This led many settlers to abandon the island and return to the mainland. Some, however, persevered and began cultivating the edible flower Chicory, which thrived and came to symbolize Phillip Island’s resilience and potential.
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Phillip Island’s Unique Landscape
Phillip Island’s landscape is a picturesque blend of agriculture, with farms dotting the island’s edges and bushland covering the rest. The most prominent feature of the island is its coastline. It has earned a reputation as a premier surfing destination, known for offering some of the most reliable surf conditions in all of Australia. Another major attraction is its climate, notably milder than Melbourne, providing a cool respite from the scorching mainland. The climate on Phillip Island tends to resemble that of northern New Zealand rather than the typical Australian climate, making it a sought-after destination, especially during the hot summer months.
things to do in phillip island
Woolamai Surf Beach
Woolamai Beach is renowned for its substantial waves and powerful currents, set against a backdrop of stunning ocean views and an abundance of wildlife. Lifeguards continuously patrol the beach, ensuring a safe environment for families and individuals less familiar with Victoria’s stronger tides. The beach offers various activities to keep visitors engaged, with swimming and surfing ranking among the top choices. For those less inclined to swim, a stroll along the soft sands allows for soaking in the coastal beauty. For an added adventure, consider trekking to the nearby Cape Woolamai lookout, the highest point on Phillip Island, offering a refreshing sea breeze and breathtaking panoramic views.
Watch the Penguin Parade
One of the most iconic attractions on Phillip Island is the Penguin Parade. It’s a must-see experience, allowing visitors to observe penguins returning from a day of fishing to their natural habitat along the shore. There are three different viewing options:
General Viewing Ticket ($26): This platform accommodates up to 3,000 visitors for a general viewing experience.
Penguins Plus ($50): For an upgraded view, opt for a platform along the coast path for a closer look at the penguins.
Underground Viewing ($65): Choose the underground observation deck for an indoor setting that offers a close-up, eye-level view of the penguins through a glass panel, providing an intimate encounter with these charming creatures.
Cowes Main Beach
As the most popular beach on Phillip Island, Cowes Main Beach boasts tranquil waters and soft, silky sands. It’s the largest north-facing beach in Victoria, offering ample space for locals and visitors to relax and unwind. The beach is conveniently located near several popular dining spots, just a short walk from the town area.
Encounter Wildlife at the Koala Conservation Centre
This conservation center is a crucial eco-tourist attraction dedicated to preserving the koala population on Phillip Island. It provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to observe and learn about these iconic Australian animals in their natural habitat. It’s a significant and fascinating activity to engage in on the island.
Acting as the central hub of Phillip Island, Cowes embodies a vibrant seaside holiday atmosphere. It serves as a perfect fusion of natural beauty and a bustling township. Cowes offers picturesque picnic spots, beach attractions, accommodations, cafes, and restaurants. The streets have shopping spots featuring unique vintage stores, surf shops, and souvenir stores. Due to its proximity—just 10 minutes away—from the major attractions on Phillip Island, Cowes is an ideal town to stay in while exploring the area.
Situated along the coastal region of Phillip Island, The Nobbies offers a breathtaking landscape for wildlife observation and learning. Visitors can explore various attractions, including coastal rock formations home to a colony of Australian fur seals. The area also features extensive seaside boardwalks and lookout points, along with the renowned Nobbies Visitor Centre.
Walk the Cape Woolamai Trail
Embark on the Cape Woolamai Trail to revel in the stunning vistas of Phillip Island and its surrounding coastline. Cape Woolamai is the highest point on Phillip Island, and from October to April, it hosts thousands of shearwater birds.
The trail spans 8.5 kilometers in a circuit, taking approximately 2.5 hours to complete. If you enjoy exploring on foot, the Cape Woolamai trail is an absolute must-do! The trail’s beauty and panoramic views will undoubtedly captivate you.
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Perched on the stunning clifftops of Phillip Island, the Nobbies Centre offers breathtaking views and captivating information. Delve into the island’s history and wildlife through informative exhibitions, technological displays, and interactive demonstrations. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the center provides a panoramic view of the lush greenery and sparkling waters that surround the region.
Just before the gateway bridge to Phillip Island, San Remo is a vibrant seaside town renowned for its thriving fishing and dining scene. Home to Australia’s largest shark fishing fleet, the town’s primary attraction is its sizable marina, offering opportunities for fishing, fishing charters, and visits to the nearby penguin colony. Dining at one of the numerous restaurants promises an unforgettable seafood experience, while the local fish and chip shop is a great spot for equally delightful fish dishes.
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Visit the Chocolate Factory
The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory isn’t only the sweetest destination on the island but one of the most intriguing artificial attractions. While the island is renowned for its natural beauty and wildlife, the chocolate factory, managed by the innovative chocolatier Panny, is a dream come true for children and adults alike. This unique and fascinating attraction offers ample tasting opportunities for all visitors heading to Phillip Island.
Experience a Seal-Watching Cruise
Embark on a 2-hour seal-watching cruise! The catamaran features both outdoor and indoor viewing decks, providing the perfect vantage point to witness the largest colony of fur seals in Australia.
During the journey, there’s a chance of spotting dolphins, penguins, and even whales. These cruises typically offer guides who provide insights into the wildlife and the history of Phillip Island. The tours usually last around 2 hours, offering a memorable wildlife viewing experience.
Discover the Churchill Island Heritage Farm
The Churchill Island Heritage Farm presents a variety of daily farming activities and scenic walks around the island. Daily farming activities include cow milking, sheep shearing, whip cracking, and working dog demonstrations.
This activity is family-friendly and well-suited for kids. A visit to the Churchill Island Heritage Farm is included in the 4 Park Pass, which might be of interest if you plan to visit multiple attractions on the island.
Explore Wilsons Promontory National Park
Numerous day trips from Melbourne allow visitors to explore the picturesque Wilsons Promontory National Park, showcasing stunning mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, bush tracks, and other breathtaking natural spots. The park offers opportunities for bushwalking, sightseeing, bird watching, and wildlife spotting. Opting for a tour with a professional guide can enhance the experience by providing local insights and making the visit more enjoyable and informative.
Enjoy a Whale Watching Tour
This tour not only offers a chance to witness whales (if you’re fortunate) but also provides stunning views of the north coast of Phillip Island, including the Summerland Peninsula, the Nobbies, and the Bass Strait.
The cruise takes you to specific areas where magnificent whales reside in their natural habitat. As you spot these majestic creatures, a knowledgeable guide shares fascinating facts about them. These tours generally last around 4 hours, offering an engaging and informative experience.
Maru Wildlife Park
For those still eager to encounter Victoria’s incredible wildlife, Maru Wildlife Park is a must-visit! This family-owned park lets one get up close and personal with beloved Australian animals. Offering hands-on animal interactions, the park features daily activities and presentations with the animals. After exploring the various wildlife, visitors can unwind at the park’s Mini-Golf Adventure course.
The Grand Prix Circuit
Phillip Island isn’t just about wildlife; it’s also known for its Moto Grand Prix Circuit. This main attraction draws motor enthusiasts year-round and offers an exciting experience for visitors, regardless of their level of interest in motorsports.
The original track was established in 1956 and became one of the top racing venues globally. While it may have lost some of that status over the years, it still hosts a range of significant races, including the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the Superbike World Championship, and the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship. Even outside of these major events, the circuit is worth a visit.
The circuit features an informative center displaying an extensive array of historical artifacts and an impressive collection of records. Visitors seeking a more hands-on experience can partake in various activities throughout the year, such as go-karting, hot laps, and Guided Circuit Tours. Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or not, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is a noteworthy addition to your itinerary.
How to book Phillip Island tours?
Booking tours and experiences on Phillip Island is made easy through various travel agencies and online platforms. One such platform that offers a range of activities and helps in selecting the best options for your preferences is Traveleveryday.
Traveleveryday provides many activities, ensuring visitors can access the best experiences on Phillip Island. This platform assists in choosing suitable options, making it easier for travelers to book tours and adventures that align with their interests.
When looking to book activities on Phillip Island, consider exploring Traveleveryday’s offerings, which can guide you in finding and selecting the most fitting and enjoyable experiences for your trip.