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Published January 7th 2013
Fun for the family at Phillip Island
Last year I was lucky enough to win a Family Pass to the 3 parks on Phillip Island through Weekend Notes. My daughter, husband and 3 children & took a short holiday last November and were very grateful for the opportunity to explore the island.
My daughters verdict - the 3 Parks Pass is really good value for money. You get to see the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island. A family ticket is worth $93.70; adult $37.50; concession $26.20 & child (4-15) $18.70.
Arrive at the Penguin Parade early to try and obtain seating close to the front. The parade begins at dusk. My grandchildren are aged 2, 4 & 11 and the older two probably enjoyed the penguins a bit more than the 2 year old as it was way past her bedtime. It is very touristy though, with no photos allowed and plenty of opportunity to buy stuffed penguins and other things.
The only criticism they had was that more staff were needed to control the over enthusiastic breed of tourist that did the wrong thing i.e. standing up blocking views and attempting to take photos. My daughter felt that too many people were allowed in for the amount of staff on duty. If you want a more intimate experience there are private tours.
The kids loved the Little penguins (formerly known as Fairy penguins but that was deemed politically incorrect!) as they emerged from the ocean and waddled up the beach after a hard day foraging and swimming. They are gorgeous little creatures and Phillip Island conservationists are very protective of them, and rightly so.
The Koala Conservation Centre offered the children the unique experience of seeing Koalas up close. I think there are about 40 plus Koalas. The centre has been refurbished recently and offers interactive displays and a personal tour if you wish. You walk around on boardwalks through the bush which allow you to see lots of Koalas and other wildlife. It's a very peaceful haven and great to see animals in there natural habitat which is where this differs from a zoo. My daughters verdict - worthwhile but particularly as part of the 3 Parks Pass. It would cost $27.50 for a family ticket on its own.
Churchill Island was the site of the first farm in Victoria and there is lots to do there for the kids. Watch sheep getting sheared, take a wagon ride, watch cows being milked, boomerang throwing and whip cracking and lots of baby animals. Take a picnic, wander around the old homestead and buildings and imagine life in the pioneer days. Adults can enjoy the licensed cafe. A family pass here also costs $27.50
The Nobbies was very popular with the family. It is only 5minutes from the penguin parade and has free entry. The views are spectacular as it sits on the very Western tip of Phillip Island overlooking Bass Strait. There is a viewing platform with telescopes which allow you to see the famous seal colony. Apparently there are about 20,000 seals. The rookery is fantastic to see as well. The bird life is amazing with seagulls making their nests all around. There is also an interactive centre with cameras that you can use to take your own photos. It gets very windy here though so rug up if it's a cool day. On the down side the cafe is very run down though which is surprising for such a popular tourist area. The food is very ordinary and you have to wonder why? Perhaps it is privately run, but in any case it is a disappointment.