Many Australian and overseas visitors know Phillip Island as home to Australia’s 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix and the nightly Penguin Parade. But Phillip Island offers so much more to both day-trippers and those who are lucky enough to linger a little longer.
At just 90 minutes from the Melbourne CBD, the abundance of wildlife is astonishing. There are non-stop photo opps when you encounter koalas, little penguins, Australian fur seals, wallabies, echidnas, Cape Barren Geese and more with a backdrop of some of the country’s most spectacular seascapes.
But it’s not just endless opportunities to meet the locals that make Phillip Island a must-do on any trip to Victoria; Eco-adventures, rugged landscapes and great dining options mean there’s something for everyone on the island.
Koala Conservation Centre
The Koala Conservation Centre is not a koala theme park. The centre was designed to ensure the continued survival of the existing Phillip Island koala population on Phillip Island.
Taking the ‘Koala Eco-Explorer Tour’ means you can learn more about the island’s native koalas as well as the koala lifecycle and habits. The elevated boardwalks through the Eucalypts allow visitors to view the dozy creatures in their natural surroundings. Besides Koala research, rescue and rehabilitation, the Centre is home to an amazing variety of native birdlife as well as echidnas and wallabies. http://penguins.org.au/
The ‘Little’ Penguins formerly known as ‘Fairy’ waddle out of the water every evening at sunset. Crowds flock to witness this nightly ritual as the marine birds return from the ocean to sleep before they do it all over again the next day. Take the Ultimate Penguin Tour for a private guided ranger, small group tour to a secluded beach with night vision scopes to see the birds up close. The walk back from this tour is through the heart of the penguin colony as the penguins settle in for the night.
Scheduled to open mid-November 2015, the new Penguins Plus facility will include an underground penguin viewing bunker, enabling visitors to view the little penguins at eye level through one-way glass. New purposed-designed above-ground seating will be added to seat up to 400 people. http://www.penguins.org.au/
Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventure Tour
The new Wild Oceans EcoBoat Adventure Tour like the Penguin Parade and Koala Conservation Centre is part of Phillip Island Nature Parks – a not-for-profit organisation that raises revenue through these activities to fund conservation, research and education activities. The high-speed tour of the breath-taking coastline includes the blowhole at the Nobbies. But it’s the Australian Fur Seals that are the draw-card here. The WildOceans EcoBoat is the only vessel permitted to approach the fur seal colony at Seal Rocks and they immediately make a beeline for the boat to show off for the passengers on-board. During whale season there might be a bonus migrating humpback sighting or two. http://www.penguins.org.au/
Rain or shine, it doesn’t get much better than a leisurely lunch with a glass of local red or white overlooking the magnificent Southern Ocean at Cape Kitchen. Head Chef Luke Smith’s menu celebrates the best of the seasons with sensational local produce.
Opening its doors at the start of 2015, the restaurant has garnered a lot of attention for not just those endless views but mouth-watering food prepared ethically and sustainably. The Cape Table is the Cape Kitchen’s signature lunch experience with a variety of in-season salads and local produce taking the starring role.
Open just Friday to Sunday, The Cape Kitchen is open for Breakfast and Lunch. The owners are currently working towards opening on-site accommodation and a series of hot mineral bathing pools. www.thecapekitchen.com.au
The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
A long time favourite for kids from four to eighty-four, the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is like Willy Wonka’s factory – full of wonder and delight. Definitely, the sweetest attraction on the island all made with Belgian couverture chocolate.
There are contraptions to create your own personal chocolate bar flavoured with wasabi or more conventional flavours. Watch the couverture transformed and saunter through the dazzling art gallery of works made entirely from chocolate. (Think reproductions of Michelangelo’s David complete with chocolate fig leaf). http://www.phillipislandchocolatefactory.com.au/
Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant & Bar
Home to the island’s only handcrafted ales, the Rusty Waters Brewery takes its name from the colour of beer and is a relaxed, family-run restaurant and bar that offers live music.
Rusty Water brews small batch Dark Malt (burnt toffee) ale, Amber ale, Pilsner and a Koala Ale.
You can wash down your prime cut Gippsland Signature Rib Eye Steak, Rusty Beef Pie or of course Beer Battered Fish and Chips with a paddle of beers or some of the local Purple Hen wines. Even the artisan bread is infused with Koala Pale Ale or Dark Malt Burnt Toffee Ale and served with macadamia and wattleseed Dukkah from the Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm. http://www.rustywaterbrewery.com.au/
Phillip Island Nature Parks are partnering with WWF Australia to build a new world-class Antarctic Journey attraction to open later this year. The interactive displays and audio-visual experiences will invite visitors into the engrossing world of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
So near the world’s most livable city, Phillip Island is just another reason Melbourne is not only liveable – it’s lovable.
Disclaimer: ThisMagnificentLife was a guest of Phillip Island Nature Parks and Tourism Victoria: www.tourism.vic.gov.au