Wednesday, August 3, 2011

5 Reasons to Visit Phillip Island

Wildlife and nature-lovers will be right at home on Phillip Island, an island approximately 90 minutes drive southeast of Melbourne. You can find some of Australia’s most lovable creatures here, like little penguins and koalas. The penguins’ nightly march from the water to their sand dune burrows is the island’s biggest natural attraction, but other Phillip Island Nature Park sites like the Koala Conservation Centre, the Nobbies Centre and Churchill Island offer a myriad of scenic, outdoorsy entertainment. Wildlife abounds, both in and out of the water.

1. The Penguin Parade

Phillip Island’s biggest claim to fame, the nightly Penguin Parade, is an adorable spectacle that’s not to be missed. Watch as hundreds of Little Penguins emerge from the water every evening and waddle to the safety of their dune burrows. There are a range of viewing options including exclusive boardwalks, the indoor Skybox and private ranger-led experiences for groups of 10 people each night. Options are tailored for couples and families.
Penguin Returning to Burrows
Penguins Making Nightly Trek to Burrows on Phillip Island

2. Koala Conservation Centre

Competing with the penguins for the title of Australia’s cutest animals, the koalas at the island’s Koala Conservation Centre put up a good fight. As you walk through the native bush on treetop boardwalks, you’ll see koalas in their natural habitat, lounging in the trees. These animals give the word “relaxed” new meaning – with an average sleeping time of 20 hours a day. You will be able to spot the koalas in the trees and maybe even moving around with a joey on their backs. You may also see wallabies, echidnas and other Aussie wildlife. A penguins and koalas day trip from Melbourne combines a trip to the Koala Conservation Centre with the Penguin Parade.
Koala Cutie
Sleepy Koala in Eucalyptus Tree at Koala Conservation Centre

3. The Nobbies Centre and Seal Rocks

On the southwest tip of the island, you’ll find the Nobbies Centre, inside Phillip Island Nature Park. Before heading to the Penguin Parade, which is just up the shore, spend some time here enjoying the dramatic coastal scenery and viewing Australian Fur Seals. As you walk along the boardwalk, you may also see little penguins, seabirds and dolphins – look through the binoculars or indoor seal cameras for a better view of Seal Rocks, a breeding ground for more than 30,000 Fur Seals that lie 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) off the coast. If you want to see more of the seals, book a tour that includes a wildlife cruise to Seal Rocks.
Boardwalk at Nobbies
Boardwalk at Nobbies Centre, Phillip Island Nature Park

4. Churchill Island

Churchill Island is connected to Phillip Island by bridge and is the site of the first European settlement in the state of Victoria. At the heritage farm and homestead, you’ll step back in time to the 1800s, in addition to seeing traditional Australian working farm demonstrations such as cow milking, sheep shearing, working dogs and blacksmithing, as well as interactive boomerang throwing and whip cracking activities. Go for a ride on a horse and cart  or simply take a walk along the coastline. A 3 Parks Pass self drive ticket includes a visit to the island, as well as the Penguin Parade and Koala Conservation Centre.
Milking Cow, Churchill Island
Milking a cow at Churchill Island Heritage Farm

5. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Trekking all over the island deserves a reward – what better than chocolate fresh from the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory? On a small-group eco-tour from Melbourne, you’ll visit the factory, where you’ll learn about cocoa harvesting, see how chocolate is made and sample the finished product. At Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate, inside the factory, you can use interactive machines to make your own chocolate, which will travel down a conveyor belt right to you, ready for you to pop in your mouth.
Aside from the amazing wildlife attractions on Phillip Island, you can explore numerous other attractions and natural areas as part of either a day tour or self drive trip. These include:
  • AmazeNThings Fun Park
  • Rhyll Trout Farm and Bush Tucker Trail
  • Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
  • Cape Woolamai Walk
  • Rhyll Inlet and Wetlands
  • Swan Lake
  • Phillip Island Winery / Purple Hen Winery
Don’t forget to pack your swimmers in the warmer months to explore the amazing surf and bay beaches!