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Phillip Island Nature Parks

Home > Melbourne > Animals and Wildlife | Day Trips | Escape the City | Farms | Nature
Published July 25th 2014
Penguins, koalas, farm animals and more
Phillip Island Nature Parks

Under a two hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is the perfect destination for a day trip.

Courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks, I was invited to experience the attractions of Phillip Island. The fun-filled day involved seeing land and marine animals, including the famed little penguins of Phillip Island.

For the rest of the month of July, kids go free to the Phillip Island Nature Parks, with one free child's 3 Parks Pass for every adult's 3 Parks Pass purchase. To redeem the offer, you need to like their Facebook page and download the voucher.

peacock churchill island
We encountered this peacock roaming the gardens at Churchill Island.

boardwalks nobbies centre phillip island
The boardwalks at the Nobbies Centre.

A 'three parks pass' ticket (adult $40.40, child $20.20) would gain you access to all of the places I visited. Tickets to each destination can also be purchased separately, if you would only like to visit one or two of the attractions.

Koala Conservation Centre

First, we went to the Koala Conservation Centre. Immediately after the entry is a room with interactive displays about the wildlife. While the robotic koala display was fascinating, seeing koalas in the flesh was much more exciting.

koala conservation centre phillip island
Educational displays at the Koala Conservation Centre.

koala conservation centre interactive display
Robotic koala display at the Koala Conservation Centre.

Boardwalk trails allow visitors to view koalas in their own carefully managed, but more or less natural habitat. Most of the koalas were curled up on high branches, but some were lower down so we could get a better look at them.

koala conservation centre phillip island
Spot the koala nestled in the tree.

koala conservation centre phillip island
Two sleeping koalas.

One particularly friendly koala was nibbling on leaves while onlookers cooed at it- but despite the small crowd, it didn't seem to be shy at all.

koala conservation centre phillip island
We were only a few metres away from this koala.

The boardwalk trail set-up seems to be the perfect compromise between getting close to the koalas and not disturbing them. The closest koalas were just metres away- near enough to have a good look at, but out of reach of the hands of curious humans.

There were also some colourful birds to be seen at the Conservation Centre. Apparently wallabies and echidnas also roam the grounds, but we did not spot any.

As well as the boardwalk trails, there was also a path with the potential for seeing more wildlife, although we did not see anything more exciting than trees on this walk.

koala conservation centre
Walking track at the Koala Conservation Centre.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Following the Koala Conservation Centre, we headed to the Churchill Island Heritage Farm. It is a smaller island located just off the main island, accessible via a bridge.

Lunch at the Churchill Island Café was excellent- the beef burger I ordered rivals that of many stand-alone burger joints.

churchill island heritage farm cafe
Beef burger from the Churchill Island cafe. $19.

churchill island cafe
Beer battered fish from the Churchill Island cafe. $19.

The main drawcard of the farm is the menagerie of farm animals, sure to enchant children and adults alike. You can get extremely close to the animals at the Churchill Island Heritage Farm- or rather, they can get close to you. Geese, roosters and a peacock roam the area, and they do not seem to be shy of people at all.

rooster churchill island
This overly friendly rooster got a little too close for my liking.

Larger animals livestock stay firmly on their pens, but they are not afraid to go right up to the fence lines for a pat.

churchill island heritage farm bull
A friendly bull at the Churchill Island farm.

While most of the animals at the farm are not native to Australia, there is a wallaby enclosure. Unlike the other animals which you can get quite close to, you can only walk around the outside of the fence.

wallaby churchill heritage farm
Wallabies at Churchill Island.

Taking pride of place at the farm was the homestead, which was the holiday house of former mayor of Melbourne, Samuel Amess. The nineteenth century homestead is fairly simple and compact, set up with modest furnishings to be historically accurate. The island has a rich history, being the first place in Victoria to be farmed by settlers.

churchill island homestead
Bedroom inside the Churchill Island homestead.

Sheep shearing was a popular demonstration- it seemed each and every guest at the farm crammed into the shed to watch. Children were invited to sit at the front, but unfortunately the sea of adults standing and craning their necks made it difficult to see much. I suggest arriving at the shed a little earlier than the demonstration is scheduled to begin in order to get a decent spot.

Following the sheep demonstration was a whip cracking demonstration. While most activities on the farm were for children, whip cracking was more for the adults, as grown-up onlookers were invited to try to crack the whip.

whip cracking churchill island
Whip cracking demonstration at the Churchill Island farm.

churchill island heritage farm blacksmith
Blacksmith demonstration at the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.

Nobbies Centre

Just a few minutes away from the Penguin Parade, the Nobbies Centre is worth a visit before sunset.

The boardwalks were the highlight of our trip. On one side are breathtaking ocean views, on the other, you can see penguins huddled inside their artificial burrows on the hillside. It seems to be a popular sight for tourists, but it is not too crowded as the boardwalks are so extensive.

penguins nobbies centre
Penguins nestled inside an artificial burrow.

wallaby nobbies centre
A wallaby among the penguin burrows.

nobbies centre
Ocean views from the Nobbies Centre boardwalk.

Inside the Nobbies Centre were some displays about the marine life. The displays seem to be a little dated and the videos were not operational- I recommend focussing your time on enjoying the views from the boardwalks.

interactive display nobbies centre
An interactive educational display inside the Nobbies Centre.

It is free to visit the Nobbies Centre, but bring some cash if you would like to operate the binoculars on the boardwalks to get a better view of the shore and its marine life.

Penguin Parade

The Penguin Parade was incredibly popular, with scores of tourists turning out to see the penguins. At first, budding penguin watchers sat on bleachers facing the beach, for the short wait until the penguins emerged from the water. The penguins came out on cue, close to that night's expected time of 5:50pm. We decided to venture to the penguin parade early in order to get a decent view, but as it turned out this was completely unnecessary. Once the penguins ascended from the beach, they scurried to their burrows which could be seen from the network of boardwalks. Just like the boardwalks at the Koala Conservation Centre and the Nobbies Centre, there was more than enough space to accommodate the sizeable turnout so it was not crowded at all.

Photography of the penguins is not allowed, so you will have to take my word for it that we were mere metres from the adorable penguins. The penguins seemed to be endless. Most scurried past the boardwalks to unseen burrows, but occasionally a penguin would pause for a few minutes. It was fascinating to see the penguins in their natural habitat. I highly recommend the experience, particularly to those who have not seen penguins before.

Inside the Penguin Parade centre are educational displays, which pass the time while you wait but are nowhere near as exciting as the main event. There is also a Penguin Parade café, serving dinner before the parade.

penguin parade displays
Educational displays inside the Penguin Parade centre.

penguin parade cafe
Beef lasagne from the Penguin Parade cafe. $18.75 (including bottle of soft drink).

Many thanks to Phillip Island Nature Parks for inviting me to review the famous attractions of Phillip Island.
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*Natasha Abrahams was invited as a guest
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Why? To see the famous penguins, and many other animals besides.
When: Opening times vary.
Phone: 5951 2800
Where: Various locations at Phillip Island.
Cost: $40.40 per adult for three parks pass.
Your Comment
The koala centre looks wonderful; the displays and everything really make you want to read and learn. I can also imagine how brilliant the penguin parade is.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12528) 2101 days ago
Love the peacock picture. This is a wonderful park that I used to visit regularly when I lived in Melbourne. There is so much to see for people who take their time to really observe nature - highly recommend it.
by Tracey Winning (score: 2|153) 2102 days ago
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