Australia & Pacific, Melbourne
Flora and fauna and nature-lovers will be right at home on Phillip Island, an island approximately 90 minutes guide southeast of Melbourne. You can find some of Australia’s most lovable creatures here, like small penguins and koalas. The penguins’ nightly march from the water to their sand dune burrows is the island’s largest natural attraction, but other Phillip Island Nature Park sites like the Koala Conservation Centre, the Nobbies Centre and Churchill Island offer a myriad of scenic, outdoorsy entertainment. Flora and fauna abounds, both in and out of the water.
1. The Penguin Parade
Phillip Island’s largest claim to fame, the nightly Penguin Parade, is an adorable spectacle that’s not to be missed. Watch as hundreds of Small Penguins emerge from the water every sundown and waddle to the safety of their dune burrows. There are a range of viewing options including exclusive boardwalks, the indoor Skybox and private ranger-led experiences for groups of 10 people each night. Options are tailored for couples and families.
2. Koala Conservation Centre
Competing with the penguins for the title of Australia’s cutest animals, the koalas at the island’s Koala Conservation Centre place up a excellent fight. As you walk through the native bush on treetop boardwalks, you’ll see koalas in their natural habitat, lounging in the trees. These animals give the word “relaxed” new meaning – with an average sleeping time of 20 hours a day. You will be able to spot the koalas in the trees and maybe even moving around with a joey on their backs. You may also see wallabies, echidnas and other Aussie flora and fauna. A penguins and koalas day trip from Melbourne combines a trip to the Koala Conservation Centre with the Penguin Parade.
3. The Nobbies Centre and Seal Rocks
On the southwest tip of the island, you’ll find the Nobbies Centre, inside Phillip Island Nature Park. Before heading to the Penguin Parade, which is just up the shore, spend some time here enjoying the dramatic coastal scenery and viewing Australian Fur Seals. As you walk along the boardwalk, you may also see small penguins, seabirds and dolphins – look through the binoculars or indoor seal cameras for a better view of Seal Rocks, a breeding ground for more than 30,000 Fur Seals that lie 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) off the coast. If you want to see more of the seals, book a tour that includes a flora and fauna cruise to Seal Rocks.
4. Churchill Island
Churchill Island is connected to Phillip Island by bridge and is the site of the first European settlement in the state of Victoria. At the heritage farm and homestead, you’ll step back in time to the 1800s, in addition to seeing traditional Australian working farm demonstrations such as cow milking, sheep shearing, working dogs and blacksmithing, as well as interactive boomerang throwing and whip cracking activities. Go for a ride on a horse and cart or simply take a walk along the coastline. A 3 Parks Pass self guide ticket includes a stay to the island, as well as the Penguin Parade and Koala Conservation Centre.
5. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Trekking all over the island deserves a reward – what better than chocolate fresh from the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory? On a small-group eco-tour from Melbourne, you’ll stay the factory, where you’ll learn about cocoa harvesting, see how chocolate is made and sample the finished product. At Panny’s Incredible World of Chocolate, inside the factory, you can use interactive machines to make your own chocolate, which will travel down a conveyor belt right to you, equipped for you to pop in your mouth.
Don’t forget to pack your swimmers in the warmer months to explore the incredible surf and bay beaches!