A short drive from Melbourne CBD is the tourist hotspot Phillip Island. It’s a small island at just 26km long and 9km wide and is connected to the mainland by a short bridge crossing. Before packing up the car and beginning our Great Ocean Road and Red Centre outback adventure we decided to make the day trip here with Iona, a friend from back home.
After setting off a little later than we’d hoped, we luckily managed to get to San Remo pier just in time for the daily midday pelican feeding with a short presentation on the birds. Following that, we headed over the bridge to Phillip Island and began our sightseeing. We started with Cape Woolamai to view the beautiful beach and coastal scenery. Unfortunately being winter it was pretty cold and windy, otherwise this would be a lovely spot to relax for a few hours.
Next stop was the Phillip Island racing circuit. Being a big fan of Moto GP, Adam was really keen to visit the track, and hopes to return later this year to watch the race in October. They ask a fee of $17.50 to view the track, so Iona and I waited while Adam went in as we weren’t as interested. Unfortunately he said you could hardly see any of the track as most of the viewing area was closed off, and he felt it was a waste of money.
Starting to feel a bit peckish, we headed for lunch next. Searching reviews online, we opted to eat at Cheeky Goose Cafe in Cowes. The cafe was nicely decorated and has a well deserved rating of 4.5/5 on trip advisor for it’s excellent food and service. All dishes were delicious and served promptly and I’d recommend to anyone planning on visiting the area.
Refuelled and ready to go again, it was time to hit up more of the scenic spots. We went for a short stroll along the boardwalk at ‘The Nobbies’, where you could see spectacular views of the waves crashing against the rocks and if you’re lucky spot some wildlife in the ocean too. We didn’t go into the centre itself, but this also offers an Antarctic Journey experience as well as a cafe and gift shop. Catching sight of some wild kangaroos, we then drove onto the famous Penguin Parade for our last stop of the day.
With an astounding 32,000 penguins, Phillip Island is home to one of the largest penguin colonies in the world, however don’t expect to see quite that many when you visit! Every night when the sun goes down, hundreds of penguins come up onto the foreshore and make their way back to their little burrows for the night. An equally large amount of tourists descend upon the place each evening to see this happen. At $25.70 per adult for basic entry with closer encounter experiences starting from $50, it’s not a cheap activity. While a wonderful sight to watch, we were disappointed with such a high price-tag being put on viewing animals in nature, when at St Kilda beach you can see the exact same thing on a smaller scale for free. It was very cute to watch, and probably what Phillip Island is best known for; so I guess in that respect it’s an unmissable activity, however I do feel it’s very overpriced for what it is. If you arrive early enough you’ll also have time to look around the information boards to read some fun facts about the penguins; such as the fact that the penguins keep the same burrow for their whole lives, however if the male and female separate, the male keeps the burrow and the female moves out!
Penguins done, it was time to head back to Melbourne. All in all we had a fun day out, one which I think would be even more enjoyable had we visited in summer and had some great weather to go along with the great scenery and wildlife we saw.