Phillip Island is a small island southeast of Melbourne in the state of Victoria. The island is not particularly large with a length of 26 km and a width of 9 km. From the mainland, you get to the island over a bridge. This place is best known for its Fairy Penguins (the Australians call them Little Penguins), which gather by the thousands every night to spend the night onshore. The island is also famous for the largest Australian seal colony!
As night falls, you can watch penguins in small groups waddling out of the water to spend the night on the mainland. So adorable! These little penguins, the size of three apples, offer an enchanting spectacle. An observation deck was built for visitors, so that the penguins are not disturbed. As soon as it gets dark, these little black heads will be sticking out of the water and you can watch them come out in small groups. The most interesting thing is that they wait for each other before starting their long march along the beach. Watching them waddle on the dunes is a wonderful sight. Taking photos is prohibited as the flash would dazzle and disturb them (unfortunately, not many tourists follow this rule).
There is only one place on the island where you can see this parade. It’s called Phillip Island Penguin Parade, on the other side of the island. You have to pay a fee, of course (Australians are smart!), and it’s not cheap, considering the short time you’ll get to see them. Even though I think that’s a pity, it’s still worth it. You can see penguins anywhere on the island though, if you look closely. This obviously doesn’t cost anything, but the parade will cost you about 24 AUD for an adult. If you want to be closer, there is a VIP Pass for 74 AUD! With this pass you will be accompanied by a ranger who will tell you all about these penguins. You get a beautiful view and you’re by yourself in a small hut. Honestly, I don’t think that this VIP pass is worth it because the standard passport is good enough.
Hiking on the island
On just one weekend, we weren’t able to do all the hikes the island has to offer. Therefore, I only introduce two of the trails, Cape Woolamai and The Nobbies, both of which have stunning landscapes.
Cape Woolamai is right at the entrance to the island on the left. This is a very popular place for surfers while others relax on the beach. We walked along the beach to the cliffs, where we followed a small trail. The view is gorgeous.
Tip: Take your time to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Just go for a surf or a swim, and laze in the sun (there are only few tourists there), but stay for a few hours and enjoy the time!
The Nobbies is located at the other end of the island next to the Penguin Parade. You’ll find the largest concentration of seals there. Along the coast you can admire an incredible fauna and flora! If you look closely, you can see seals that perfectly fit into the landscape of rocks. Through the timber poles of the path, you will see little penguins! Before you go, don’t forget to read the information boards about the wildlife and plants inhabiting the area.
Koala Conservation Park
Visit the Koala Conservation Park! These marsupials are just adorable! At the park, you can learn more about their lifestyle, which is kind of “extreme”! They are sleeping for 20 hours a day and feed exclusively on eucalyptus leaves, through which they are also hydrogenated. They only go from one tree to another if they really have to. The only time they are really active is when they’re reproducing. Incidentally, stroking and holding koalas is now prohibited in South Australia. A study has shown that direct contact with humans would put them under too much stress. With 20 hours of sleep a day, I honestly don’t understand how they would ever get stressed…but scientists have proven it, so we better not contradict them!
They offer excursions for people to explore the island in the best possible way (especially if you don’t have a car). From Melbourne you get to spend a day on Philip Island for about $ 125. Leave the beaten track and avoid the tourist parks. The price includes entrance fees to the Koala Conservation Centre and the Penguin Parade.
Practical information[toggles title=”How to get there” icon=”icon-road”]Phillip Island is situated 140 km south of Melbourne. Head south onto the Monash Freeway (M1), continue onto the South Gippsland (M420) and Bass (A420) highways and finally onto Phillip Island Road. From the mainland, you get to the island via a bridge, so you can take your car. The drive takes about 2 hours from Melbourne.[/toggles][toggles title=”Season” icon=”icon-cloud”]Ideal season: September to February[/toggles][toggles title=”Wildlife” icon=”icon-eye-open”] Penguin Parade: From 24 AUD. Opening hours: At dusk, in summer between 20 and 20:45 and in winter between 17:15 and 18:45.
Seal colony: free, accessible from 10am to 8pm in summer and from 11am to 4pm in winter.
Koala Conservation Centre: Open daily from 10am to 5pm. With your ticket, you can enter the centre and observe wild koalas in their natural habitat. 10.8AUD / person.[/toggles]
Written by Aurelie Charles