Things to Do in Phillip Island
Phillip Island is brimming with memorable wildlife experiences, but its headline act is the nightly Penguin Parade. Each night at dusk, thousands of little penguins—the largest colony in Australia of the world’s smallest penguin breed—can be seen along the shores of Summerland Beach, waddling back to their beachside burrows after a day at sea.
Located in the bushlands of Mornington Peninsula, Moonlit Sanctuary is a wildlife conservation park that is home to native Australian wildlife, including koalas, wallabies, kookaburras, and dingos. The sanctuary is most famous for its night tours, which allow visitors to see nocturnal pythons, feathertail gliders, quolls, and more.
The Koala Reserve on Phillip Island is a fun and informative place to learn more about the popular Australian marsupial. Stroll elevated boardwalks through eucalypt woodland as you observe koalas in their natural habitat.
The Nobbies Centre on Phillip Island features educational displays, a cafe, a children's play area, and a gift shop. Overlooking Seal Rocks, the center’s network of boardwalks also offer a front row seat to Australia’s largest fur seal colony and the impressive sea cave known as the Blowhole.
With its sandy beaches, windswept bluffs, and miles of rugged walking trails, Cape Woolamai is a place to unwind and simply get back to nature. Stretched across the southeastern corner of scenic Phillip Island, Cape Woolamai is a popular getaway for surfers, birdwatchers, and hikers. On the western stretch, Woolamai Beach has some of the best surfing in the entire state of Victoria, whereas the eastern stretch is covered in sand dunes just a short walk from town. Woolamai Beach is part of the Phillip Island Surfing Reserve and home to a popular lifesaving club, and granite cliffs provide a rugged backdrop to the wide, golden sands. Atop the bluff, a system of walking tracks leads to the highest point on all of Phillip Island, and while it’s only a moderate 370 feet, the viewpoint provides a panoramic vista looking back towards the Australian mainland. Avid hikers can enjoy the 5.3-mile loop that passes the best beaches and viewpoints, and between September and April, birdwatchers can scan the skies for shearwaters that migrate from Alaska. Of all of the cape’s rugged scenery, however, the most striking image is of waves crashing up against the Pinnacles—an iconic collection of eroded sea stacks towards the very end of the cape.
Phillip Island is famed for its free-roaming penguins and Australia’s largest colony of fur seals, but those are not the only types of wildlife you can see there. The Phillip Island Wildlife Park is home to more than 100 different species of native Australian animals. Visitors can see and interact with the wildlife living in the park.
Get a glimpse into the lives of early Australian settlers and pioneer farming practices at Churchill Island. Located just off the coast of Phillip Island, Churchill Island was the first European agricultural site in Victoria. Today, it’s home to a historic working farm, the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
Between the surfing, the wildlife, the hiking, and driving, sometimes the best Phillip Island activity is simply doing nothing at all. That’s the plan at the Phillip Island Winery, where the family-run tasting room actively encourages visitors to kick back and relax. Located amidst the green pastures on the western end of the island, sit down with a Chardonnay or a signature Pinot Noir, and allow the owners to walk you through a flight of their colder climate wines. Indulge with platters of Gippsland cheeses, homemade dips and smoked trout, or watch a blustery storm roll in from the cozy cottage confines. This is the oldest winery on Phillip Island and definitely the most relaxed, and a place to simply relax and unwind and experience the island’s beauty.
While Australia’s Phillip Island may be best known for its wildlife, this family-owned chocolate factory brings a tasty touch to the island, with handmade truffles and other treats crafted on-site. Cocoa-themed games and displays–like sculptures carved out of solid chocolate and a giant chocolate waterfall–hit the sweet spot for kids.
For many travelers, Phillip Island is known for the penguins that stumble ashore at sunset, but for anyone into high speed racing on motorcycles, go karts, or stock cars, it’s known for the Phillip Island Circuit and the legendary, ocean view course. With a total lap length of 2.7 miles, the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit is not only technically challenging with all of its twist and turns, but considering the sweeping ocean views, is generally regarded as one of the sport’s most scenic and popular tracks. If there happens to be a race while in town, head to one of the spectator spots to watch the fast-paced action, where professional riders accelerate to speeds that can often top 200 mph. On days when races are not actively in session, go kart rides are offered for visitors to get the feel for the course, or you can also whip through the track at high speeds while accompanied by a professional driver. To learn even more about the history of the Grand Prix circuit, and relive its memorable moments, join in a guided tour of the track that takes place at 2pm, where you’ll finish the tour on the winner’s podium like the greatest racers in the world.
More Things to Do in Phillip Island
A Maze'N Things
Set amid the natural wonders and wildlife reserves of Phillip Island, A Maze'N Things offers a fun alternative for a family day out. The small-scale theme park is packed with interactive exhibitions and activities, including mind-bending illusions, a gigantic maze, a minigolf course, and plenty of games, puzzles, and challenges to keep all ages entertained.
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
To experience Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse you better have a strong set of legs. This historic light station on Wilsons Promontory can only be reached by foot— and requires a journey that last two days and just over 23 miles. After sloshing for nearly 12 miles through lush, Victorian bush, this lighthouse that’s stood since 1859 appears as literal beacon of hope that the hike is nearly complete. There was once a time when hardy families would live on this isolated point—dutifully manning the flickering light to keep mariners safe at sea. Today those homes where the light keepers lived have largely remained the same, and are split into three, dorm style cottages where hikers can rest for the night. The granite cliffs surrounding the lighthouse form the mainland’s southernmost point, and the roiling Pacific surrounds the cottages on nearly every side. After cleaning up from a long day of hiking, poke your head in the small museum of original lighthouse artifacts, or talk with the rangers who still call the lighthouse their temporary home. On the return trip, many hikers opt to return via Little Waterloo Bay, where golden sands and clear water are worth the extra couple of miles to the trail’s original start.
Phillip Island Nature Parks
Located only 1.5 hours from the teeming streets of modern, fast-paced Melbourne—Phillip Island is known for its wildlife and rural, undeveloped shores. The fact that the island has remained so wild is in large part due to the Phillip Island Nature Parks—a group of five family-friendly attractions, plus conservation areas that preserve and promote the island’s wildlife wealth.
Cleft Island (Skull Rock)
Looming large off the tip of Wilsons Promontory—mainland Australia’s southernmost point—this massive skull-shaped rock is reminiscent of a movie villain’s lair. Sheer granite cliffs on all sides make it nearly impossible to access, but intrepid travelers can view its mysterious mass and enormous cave from the water on a day cruise.