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Victoria’s Cool Coastal Playground
For a compact island measuring just 26 by nine kilometres, Phillip Island punches well above its weight when it comes to the number of things to do.
A nature lover’s paradise, the island is home to thousands of animal species, including the largest colony of Little Penguins in the world, a koala conservation centre and 20,000 Australian Fur Seals.
Whether you are into surfing, swimming, fishing, hiking and biking or wining and dining, the island’s welcoming beaches and striking, rugged coastline offers the ideal backdrop for unforgettable outdoor and wildlife experiences and local coastal produce at its best.
Penguins on parade
One of the island’s most iconic experiences is the Phillip Island Penguin Parade. Daily at sunset, you can come eye-to-eye with penguin colonies as they make their way up Summerland beach to their burrows.
Phillip Island is now also home to the world’s first interactive Antarctic experience, The Antarctic Journey. Located at The Nobbies, this fun and interactive virtual journey takes you into the wonderful world of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic. Here you can feel the freeze in the Antarctic Chill Zone, compare your thermal image to an Emperor penguin’s or get up close and personal with virtual Antarctic wildlife in the augmented reality zone.
Phillip Island’s iconic Penguin Parade has created a brand new visitor centre to restore 6.7ha of habitat to the penguin colony, provide an enhanced visitor experience, boost the focus on environmental sustainability and world-leading research into a thriving penguin colony.
Go coastal and get close to nature
For water-based adventures, join Wildlife Coastal Cruises on a journey to Seal Rocks to see the breeding ground and nursery for more than 20,000 Australian Fur Seals. The two-hour cruise departs daily from Cowes Jetty. Alternatively, thrill seekers can jump aboard Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Wild Ocean EcoBoat Adventures which weaves its way beyond the island’s shores on an exhilarating high-speed tour of the rugged coastline.
Surfers flock to Phillip Island all year-round, with sheltered bays for beginners and powerful reef breaks for the more advanced. Avid surfers head to Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island’s most famous surf beach, which has been declared a National Surfing Reserve in recognition of its rich surfing heritage available at various locations for surfers of all abilities. Based at San Remo, Ocean Adventures Phillip Island offer jetboating and the thundercat adrenalin pumping experiences.
For a gentler pace, a great way to explore the natural beauty of the coastline and waterways surrounding Phillip Island is with Pioneer Kayaking. They offer guided sea kayak tours around Cape Woolamai, Rhyll Wetlands, Churchill Island and Cowes foreshore.
Fishing is also hugely popular on the Island. Throw a line in from the jetty at Cowes, Newhaven, Rhyll or San Remo. Or take it up a notch and join a charter fishing expedition from Rhyll or San Remo. Phillip Island’s compact size also makes it the ideal destination to explore either on foot or bike. Choose from one of the many designated tracks and hiking routes for spectacular coastal views, native wildlife encounters and to discover local flora and fauna. The Rhyll Inlet loop offers wonderful bird observing opportunities, while the Cape Woolamai Walk boasts spectacular views of the Pinnacles and the surrounding coastline. Visit at sunset and bask in the glow of the surrounding cliffs from Phillip Island’s highest vantage point.
Wine, dine and feel fine
The first village you encounter on Phillip Island is San Remo. Time your visit to coincide with feeding the pelicans next to the San Remo pier, which takes place daily at midday, before munching down on fresh fish and chips at the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op. Established in 1948, the Co-op is an icon of San Remo where you can enjoy fresh seafood which is caught daily from one of the Co-op’s many fishing boats.
In Newhaven, you will find The Cape Kitchen nestled in a picturesque waterfront location. Here, the changing breakfast and lunch menus have been designed to showcase the best local produce available. For fresh morsels plucked straight from the island’s waters head to Bass Straight Direct where you can choose from a tantalising selection of seafood such as whiting, flathead, snapper and calamari.
Heading to the north-eastern tip of Phillip Island, you will find Rhyll, which boasts a relaxed village atmosphere, surrounded by pristine natural wilderness and abundant wildlife. Here you will find Purple Hen Winery, which is the ideal location to enjoy a local tipple as you gaze out over the bay of Western Port. Sip on one of the cool-climate wines at the cellar door before grazing on a cheese platter. Closer to the Grand Prix circuit, Phillip Island Winery also offers a cellar door experience.
If you’re heading to the penguin parade the perfect coffee and bakery stop is at The Store in Ventnor. Next to gourmet butcher, this tuck shop, gift shop and provedore sits beautifully understated in an old tin shed. A must stop for rustic old school treats with a contemporary modern twist.
As you head towards Cowes, the commercial hub of Phillip Island, stop at Rusty Water Restaurant and Bar and sample its famous tasting paddles featuring four ales from its handcrafted range. Or the newly opened Beach HQ situated on the Esplanade. The charming seaside village of Cowes boasts a year-round holiday vibe. The bustling main thoroughfare is home to seaside eateries, galleries and shops filled with fantastic souvenirs and artisan wares.
Favourite Cowes hangouts for motorsport fans and teams include the welcoming Italian flavours at Pino’s Trattoria and Isola di Capri. Sophisticated, yet relaxed and inviting, the food and wine menu aims to highlight the local region. An ideal pit-stop all year round, visitors can settle in next to the fireplace in winter or behind the bi-fold doors that swing open in the warmer months.
Ocean Reach Brewing, also in Cowes, specialises in creating unique small batch handcrafted beers unlike standard larger. Unique flavours are created with the use of special malts, yeasts, hops and the addition of oak, orange, vanilla and spices.
Phillip Island is home to an impressive selection of accommodation options, with something to suit all budgets. There is an abundance of choice, from resort-style luxury or family-friendly apartments to romantic bed and breakfasts, motels, caravan parks, cabins, camping, glamping or backpacker accommodation.
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