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Published March 23rd 2013
Want to check out the famous Phillip Island but don't have the time or the money? Here's how to see the best of this island in only one day (and easily under $75 if you're a car-less foreigner!).
Forget staying at a hotel if you're on a budget - it's not the cheapest and realistically, you can see the highlights of Phillip Island in just one day. If you have a car, then driving there and back in one day isn't too difficult. At 2 hours each way, the drive is a breeze and you can check out some lovely country scenery on the way. If you do not have a car, don't even bother trying to figure out public transportation to get there - it's more affordable, faster & more convenient to just rent a car as low as $40/day. (Thank you Europcar!)
While Phillip Island has many great attractions, we wanted to see the things we couldn't see anywhere else. This inevitably crossed a lot of things off the list, which was for the best. As much as I am in love with (borderline obsessed with) koala bears, we crossed off the Koala Conservation Centre after reading underwhelming reviews on TripAdvisor (plus, there are tons of great Koala exhibits elsewhere in Oz). We also crossed off the Churchill Island Heritage Farm and Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate (although if I were to go back, I would absolutely pay the $15 to go in).
One thing you definitely can't get elsewhere is nature - at least the same natural phenomenons anyway. We decided to start our day hiking around Cape Woolamai. We decided on a 5.5km trek (there were many to choose from) that brought us to spectacular views of Phillip Island and The Pinnacles (show below) and to the highest point on Cape Woolamai. This super-duper easy hike is great for families and anyone that loves remarkable, picturesque views of crazy, natural rock formations. Excellent way to spend 3 free hours (including photo opps plus peaceful time at the top).
After hiking, you can indulge in a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants overlooking the water in the quaint little town.
As you probably know, the Penguin Parade is the most notable attraction in Phillip Island. Our $22 general admission tickets gave us a perfectly good view of our adorable, little blue friends waddle ashore and across the sand up towards their homes. These tiny penguins stand at about 33cm tall and scurry across the sand in groups a little after sunset to avoid their predators, all whilst giving the crowd great opportunity to "ooh" & "aww".
While the "Penguin Plus" tickets were tempting to purchase so as to avoid waiting an hour and a half to save our seats since they get escorted to the very front at sunset - they aren't necessary. The best part about the Penguin Parade is after the actual parade. Once our friends are across the danger zone (AKA sand), they wander around The Boardwalk to find their homes and mates. The Boardwalk has many walkways above their burrows so you can see the penguins close up and in their natural environment.
After learning some fascinating penguin facts (such as how they eat about half their body weight daily) inside the museum area, you are free to go home with the satisfaction of knowing you got to see the absolute best of Phillip Island without spending a fortune on unnecessary accommodation or attractions. Thank you Little Penguins.
One last tip: bring food to the Penguin Parade at your own risk - the birds are absolutely fearless and will literally snatch pizza out of your mouth (or at least your boyfriend's mouth).
So there you have it people: $40 rental car plus a beautiful free hike plus $22 Penguin Parade tickets plus lunch = an amazing day under $75.