A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published April 7th 2012
Phillip Island is perfectly situated for a day trip or weekend getaway from Melbourne City. Situated in Western Port, it's a mere two hour drive from the CBD. Phillip Island is a mix of sandy beaches, serene wetlands and fantastic wildlife experiences. The beauty of it is that all the attractions are in a small area so you won't need to spend ages in the car once you've arrived. There are dozens of things to do on Phillip Island, but here are my ten favourites.
Resisting temptation at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is not easy...
1) You can't miss the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. It's on your right hand side as you enter the island and you'd be wise not to pass it without stopping. Visitors can take themselves on a self guided tour of Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate and learn all about the humble cocoa bean through a series of interactive exhibits. The chocolate shop is piled high with goodies from chocolate koalas to decadent truffles. We were pleased to find some free samples when we visited but the place has undergone quite a big transformation since then so I can't guarantee that this is still the case. However, you can definitely indulge in some inventive chocolate dishes from the Chocolate Cafe (fancy a Rocky Road Sundae?) which will get your tastebuds tingling.
2) The Maru Koala and Animal Park isn't technically on Phillip Island but you will pass it about 15 minutes before you hit the Island and it's definitely worthy of a mention. Although small, this is a really hands on wildlife park where you can pat a koala, feed some very large, friendly kangaroos, walk with dingos and listen to the animal keeper talks. The staff here were really helpful when we went and didn't mind letting us in and out of enclosures and so on. If you pay extra you can also try your hand at Pirate Pete's Mini Golf, or grab something to eat in the licensed dining area.
3) The Nobbies Nature Park is situated on a headland with spectacular coastal views. You can see Seal Rocks in the distance, home to Australia's largest Fur Seal colony. Take a walk along the boardwalk to check out the magnificent blowhole or spot some Silver Gull chicks in spring and early summer. It's always windy here so be sure to rug up, especially if you brave it in the winter.
4) Cowes is the main town on Phillip Island and has a great vibe to it especially in the summer. Located on the north coast it has beautiful, safe beaches and the main street is chock full of interesting shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. There are electric BBQs at the end of Red Rocks Road, as well as a children's playground. Eating lunch alfresco whilst doing some people watching is a great way to relax on a summer's day.
Be a champion for the day at Phillip Island GP Circuit
5) The Phillip Island Circuit is home to some major motor sporting events such as the Moto GP and the World Superbikes. Besides these big drawcards you can race on over to try out the Go Karts or be driven around the Grand Prix Circuit at high speed by an experienced racing driver. A Guided Circuit Tour allows you access to trackside areas; the Control Tower, Media Centre and Pit Roof amongst others. The Island is jam packed on the days of major events, so you might want to plan your trip accordingly.
6) Churchill Island Heritage Farm will take you back in time to experience a traditional Australian working farm. There is a daily programme of events including farming activities like cow milking and sheep shearing. You can see the cute residents of the animal nursery and the other larger animals around the farm. There are heritage buildings and beautiful gardens to explore or you could take a ride on a farm wagon. Aussie favourites such as whip cracking and boomerang throwing are also on offer.
7) Phillip Island Wildlife Cruises offer a range of cruises which explore the scenery and wildlife which the Island has to offer. The Seal Watching Cruise is a 2 hour jaunt around the northwest coast which includes a visit to Seal Rocks which will take you within metres of the seals, as well as afternoon tea. If adrenalin is more your style, try a Fast Rib Ride which will bounce, twist and turn you at high speed for 20 minutes as you tear around the bay. These are great fun and make good experience gifts if you're stuck for a present to give someone.
Intense concentration may be required at Amaze 'n' Things
8) A Maze'n'Things is a good fun attraction for the whole family. The maze part of it is a huge wooden outdoor maze which has 4 flags waiting to be discovered. You can race in teams to see who can find all the flags first. The indoor part comprises lots of games, tricks, challenges and illusions which you can explore until your mind becomes completely warped. Our favourite part was the vertical drop slide which will most definitely take your breath away. Well worth a visit.
9) The Koala Conservation Centre allows you to get up close to koalas in their natural habitat. You can walk amongst the treetops on specially constructed boardwalks or try the bush walking tracks where you might also see wallabies and echidnas. The interactive Visitor's Centre will clue you in on koalas and there is a gift shop and cafe to relieve you of any spare cash.
10) Always a favourite, Phillip Island's parade of little penguins will delight and enthral you as they come in from the sea each evening. As the sun sets these gorgeous creatures come in from hunting at sea and waddle over the sand to their burrows. There are a range of experiences to select from but the Penguin Plus ticket got us very close to the action and I highly recommend it. You can learn all about these animals in the information centre before you head out to the parade and bag yourself some cute photos of the penguins at the gift shop as you're not allowed to take your own pictures.
It's also worth paying a visit to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, it is on your left as you drive towards Cowes, it's only a couple minute drive from Churchill Island and the Chocolate Factory. It's run by volunteers and well worth a visit.
Great list and you could probably list another 10 things to do quite easily on the Island. Our favourite place to stay is Phillip Island Waterfront house www.phillipislandhouse.com.au) if you want some luxury accommodation which is still affordable.