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The Nobbies - Phillip Island

Home > Melbourne > Beaches | Day Trips | Free | Parks | Walks
by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published February 5th 2014
An overrated tourist destination?

The landscape of the area is very open and exposed to the elements, its vegetation is of dry grasslands in the summer with little else growing. The road is perched atop of the cliff face with car parks on the side that lead down to beaches. Cape Barron geese graze by the sides of the road in search of new growth. The view across to the water is nice but not breathtaking, however this may be different on a wild winters day with waves pounding onto the rocks. It does however feel as if you're miles from anywhere with such dramatic scenery and yet so close to Melbourne (less than 2 hours drive away) .

What stands out on the horizon is the Nobbies Visitor and Information Centre, a modern architectural building perched overlooking the water and 'The Nobbies' which is the rock formation shown in the picture above and is home to fur seal colonies and sea birds.

So what makes this ecotourism spot on Phillip Island so popular?

Is it the views, the wildlife which includes seals, penguins, Cape Barron geese, a variety of sea birds, the boardwalk or the nature centre that the crowds flock to see?

paid binoculars

If you're visiting during the day then you're not likely to see penguins unless it's a wet and miserable day, so you will need to return later and pay to see the penguins at the 'Penguin Parade' at dusk. The seals are a long way out on the rocks and difficult to see unless you pay to use a binocular set outdoors or in the visitor centre at a cost of $2 outside which gives you around 2 minutes viewing time or $5 from within the centre which allows you to take two photos. The boardwalk is 1.2 km long and is Free, the views are well worth the stroll and you can see the penguin boxes dotted about on the grassed areas.

Inside the visitor center

As for the visitor centre I felt like it was a real let down from what was promised from the exterior of the building with it's modern look and inviting entry. It feels run down and needing of a good clean and an overhaul. Unfortunately it is more of a tourist money grab with the large cafe that serves fried food to the masses at very high prices and with the entry and exit being through the souvenir section.

It's disappointing because the building has so much potential. The space would be much better utilised as part museum/education for visitors to learn about the area. A cafe/restaurant to showcase the best regional food and wine that would see international visitors getting a taste of our finest produce.

Info boards inside the centre

So I guess the question is, would I personally recommend solely going to the Nobbies for a day trip? No I wouldn't, however if you're going for a day trip to Phillip Island, then a look at the Nobbies is a good inclusion with the likes of Churchill Island, the Penguin Parade, Cowes foreshore, A Maze 'n Things and the Koala Conservation Centre.

There is also the 3 parks pass that gives you entry to the Churchill Island Historic working farm, Penguin Parade and the Koala conservation park for $101 for a family of 4, $40.40 an adult and $20.20 a child.

Whilst the attractions draws in many, some of the best things don't cost a thing. For example the beaches are superb and offer a great variety from the calm waters at Cowes to some of the best surf beaches including Woolamai. Take a stroll on the boardwalk at the Nobbies, discover one of the many walking tracks, local markets and many great picnic spots.

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Why? Great views
When: All year round
Phone: 0359512800
Where: 1320 Ventnor Rd Summerlands, Victoria
Cost: Free to look
Your Comment
Ha! We've just decided to give the Nobbies a miss for this very reason - I'd love to go but in the end it is just a boardwalk with lovely views. We're going to go on a cruise, to Churchill Island, and the penguin parade. We went to the Koala Conservation Centre yesterday and it was lovely too.
by Rebecca Bowyer (score: 2|231) 1897 days ago
I love to visit this site for the spectacular ocean scenery (esp at the far end of the boardwalk) and occasionally catching a glimpse of a penguin standing outside its burrow. I agree totally with the writer's comments on the centre - useless.There's so many other good things to see and do on PI as well. The Penguin Parade, a stroll around Cowes (usually fuelled by a burger with the lot at Burger Edge), Cape Wollami, watching the pelicans being fed at San Remo (and often spotting stingrays around the pier).We always include a walk at Nobbies in our trip.
by beth. (score: 0|9) 2855 days ago
Yes so true. It's always being a grab the dollar
Type of place even before the upgrade years ago.
Local produce type food would be a great . Think
We are all getting over the fried mars bars and coke backed up by a good old fashioned heart attack. Bring on fresh is best. Letting people know all about the area with a few wine tastings!!!
Let me know when it happens, I will be the first one there. Cheers. Well told Lorraine .
by bakerboy (score: 1|71) 2859 days ago
Most locals opposed the Seal Rocks visitor centre, right from day one (it was originally a private development on public land). The old little kiosk was perfect and understated. It's a huge white elephant, forced onto a local community by a government hell bent on development at any cost. It was handed over to the Phillip Island Nature Park after its financial melt down, without a budget to do anything constructive with the space. So sad to put something so enormous in this beautiful wild place. Silver gulls breed here in spring and summer, Great Whites circle the seal colony at Seal rocks and penguins can often be seen during the day time if you look carefully, sometimes you can sniff them out. Hanging Rock is facing a similar unwanted development right now.
by beckw (score: 0|4) 2858 days ago
Hi Beckw,
I'm not at all surprised that locals opposed the Seal Rocks Visitor centre, it really detracts from the natural beauty of the area and it doesn't promote the region well when it's clearly built for the tourism dollar.

I haven't heard about the Hanging Rock development, I will be interested in finding out more about it.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

by Lorraine A (score: 3|1634) 2857 days ago
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