Mama of two. Finding fun, new and thrifty ways to entertain my little girls.
Published October 27th 2014
Free fun at Phillip Island
Just 2.5 hours from Melbourne is Phillip Island, and with its sandy shores, surf beaches and relaxed vibe it's a great spot to unwind and discover the island's natural beauty. If you've got kids in tow, you'll be rapt to know there are plenty of easy ways to keep them entertained and take in the sites yourself too. Here are five fun family-friendly ideas you'll love, and perhaps best of all they won't have you reaching for your wallet.
The Nobbies With spectacular views of the headland and coast, The Nobbies is a must. Explore the boardwalk which is an easy stroll with various lookout points and see the blowhole, then step inside the Nobbies Centre to learn about the local area and marine life (Australia's largest fur seal colony is at Seal Rocks, a rocky outcrop you can see from The Nobbies) using the interactive displays. There's also a gift shop, indoor children's play area and restaurant here.
Views of the rocky outcrops and rugged coast from The Nobbies at Phillip Island
There's a local market every weekend at Phillip Island, and if you're visiting in Summer then the Cowes Night market (held at the jetty in twilight) is a must. Check out these markets and more throughout the year: The Churchill Island farmer's market (fourth Saturday of the month, 8am-1pm) with stores selling produce, foods and goods grown and produced locally Try your luck at the Cowes Trash and Treasure Market (every Sunday, 9am-2pm) on Settlement Rd opposite Mitre10. For produce, craft, plants, food, books and more, visit the Market on Chapel (outside the Uniting Church on cnr Chapel St & Warley Ave on the four Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm).
Rhyll Inlet Walk There's a couple walks you can do here, but if like us you've got little people in tow, then the mangrove boardwalk loop to the lookout (1.6km) is a good option because it's an easy leisurely stroll (a dirt track until you reach the elevated boardwalk, but fine to take a pram) and offers great opportunities to observe the birds, mangroves and water too.
Spot birdlife and check out the mangroves as you take an easy stroll along the boardwalk at Rhyll to the lookout
Pelican feeding at San Remo If you head down to the San Remo foreshore just near the jetty at noon, you can get within metres of the pelicans to watch feeding time (they're fed at this time daily, and there were close to 20 pelicans eager to enjoy some extra lunch the day we visited) plus you get to hear all about the pelicans, their diet and how they live plus ask questions of the feeders too. Afterwards you can get fish & chips at The San Remo Fishing Co-operative and Pelican View Family Restaurant (it's opposite where the pelicans are fed) and eat on the rooftop looking to the jetty and bay. There's also a foreshore walk right near here.
Pelican Feeding at San Remo foreshore near the jetty
The two favourite playgrounds for our rough and tumble girls were: The foreshore playground at Cowes (you can park near the jetty and walk along the foreshore path to here, or there's car parking in front of the park) with climbing wall, slides, rope bridge, monkey bars, swings, balancing beam and more; plus there are picnic benches and a barbecue shelter too. There are toilets a short walk away along the foreshore path. The San Remo reserve and playground is at the end of the street opposite the beach and shops, and has plenty of play equipment (with a fortress and castle inspired design with climbing wall and slide, plus see-saw, swings and more) for the kids to explore.