Phillip Island is in the southern part of Victoria and is an easy day trip from Melbourne. It is home to stunning shorelines. The island has wonderful beaches and great places for getting up close to native animals.
The island has a great variety of beaches with different topography. Smiths Beach has a long stretch of powdery sand. It is a great place to bring a picnic and enjoy a day lounging on the beach. YCW Beach has more diversity in its views. The beach also has fine sand, but has a large stretch of rock pools. The rock pools are a beautiful alternative to the powdery sand that surrounds. And they are home to interesting sea creatures. The tide was a bit high when I visited, so I didn’t see very much other than a few sea stars and some seaweed. But at low tide, the pools are known to house a variety of sea animals. If you continue along the shore past the rock pools, you will come to Red Rocks Beach. The beach is beautiful. The red rocks, greenery growing around and deep blue of the ocean are a color sensation.
The island is perhaps best known for Summerland Beach, where its Little Penguin population lives. The penguins return to shore at sunset to rest for the night in their home at the beach. You can view the penguins at the Penguin Parade. Tickets start at $24.50 for adults for general viewing. We decided to skip it, because we would have had to wait an hour or two longer for the penguins to start their march home. So it probably would have been about four more hours before we could have left, and we were both quite tired. So I can’t say for certain if the parade is worth visiting, but it seems to be quite a popular destination.
Another picturesque spot worth visiting is Pyramid Rock. The rock is near the center of the southern coast of Phillip Island. It is a short, easy stroll from the parking lot. The trail has two lookout spots for admiring the interesting rock formation. And it is a lovely spot with a great view of the surrounding shorelines and beaches. You can see most of the southern stretch of coast in either direction.
Phillip Island also draws a crowd to the Phillip Island Circuit. The racetrack is used for car and motorbike races, including the Grand Prix. But when the circuit is void of races, it can be toured. Guided tours are $22 for adults. You can get quite a bit of free information from the lobby, and see a large picture of the track if you don’t want to pay to get in. Conversely, if you feel like spending a few hundred dollars, you can ride a Go Kart on a scaled down replica of the track or ride shotgun with an experienced driver in a race-worthy car on the circuit. Be sure to check the website to get more information about what’s on or to book for a day on the track.
If you feel like interacting with some Australian animals, head to Maru Koala and Animal Park. The park is on the mainland about half an hour from the island. It is a conservation for a large array of native animals, including kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. There are also emus, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, birds and more. There is even an albino kangaroo. Entrance is $20 for adults. And for a few extra dollars you can purchase a pot of food to feed to the animals. You can also pay extra for an “encounter” and hold one of the koalas and take pictures with it. But you get really close to them within the park, so it is a bit of a waste unless you are desperate to hold a koala. Besides, you get really close to the other animals, which are clearly used to humans and keen to come up and eat from your hand. It is definitely worthwhile to purchase a pot of food to draw the animals in close. It makes for some great photo opportunities. The park has a nice café with a great view of the animals. It’s a lovely place to rest after your visit and get a Devonshire tea, which is a set of tea and scones served with jam and whipped cream. If you are still looking for more fun, head next door to Pirate Pete’s Mini-Golf Adventure. Entry into the mini-golf course is $15, but if you plan to do both, get an all day pass for a $5 discount and access to the park and course.
After a day of exploring, you will likely be hungry. A great place to stop in on the way back to Melbourne is the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. It has lots of souvenir style chocolates and a huge selection of milk, dark and white chocolates with an assortment of fillings and styles. There is also and interactive exhibit, Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate, that details the history of chocolate making. It also has examples of incredible chocolate sculptures and a station to create your own chocolate bar. The island also has a few wineries if you are feeling a bit parched. We stopped in at Phillip Island Vineyard and Winery. The tasting was free, and we were able to try a few whites and reds. It was on a lovely plot of land with a beautiful garden outside. It would be a great place to take a picnic and enjoy a bottle of wine from the winery.
The island can easily be seen in a day. It takes about two hours to drive from Melbourne, which still leaves a lot of time in the day to explore the area and enjoy lounging on the beach. But Phillip Island is also a great spot to visit for a few days if you feel like leisurely exploring all its sites and activities.