Introducing Phillip Island
Famous for the Penguin Parade and Grand Prix racing circuit, Phillip Island attracts a curious mix of surfers, petrolheads and international tourists making a beeline for those little penguins.
At its heart, Phillip Island is still a farming community, but nature has conspired to turn it into one of Victoria’s hottest tourist destinations. Apart from the nightly waddling of the penguins, there’s a large seal colony, abundant bird life around the Rhyll wetlands and a koala colony. The rugged south coast has some fabulous surf beaches and the swell of tourists – the holiday population jumps to around 40,000 over summer – means there’s a swag of family attractions, plenty of accommodation, and a buzzing cafe and restaurant scene in the island capital, Cowes. Visit in winter, though, and you’ll find a very quiet place where the local population of farmers, surfers and hippies go about their business.
‘The Island’, as it’s locally known, is only about 100 sq km, so it’s easy and quick to get around by car or bike – it’s just a 15-minute drive from Cowes to the Penguin Parade or Grand Prix circuit. It’s linked to the mainland by a bridge across the Narrows from San Remo to Newhaven. If you’re on foot or bicycle, you can get here by ferry from Stony Point to Cowes.
The Boonwurrung people are the traditional inhabitants of the island, though what they’d have made of coachloads of Penguin Parade tourists and biker gangs making their way over the San Remo bridge is anyone’s guess.
Phillip Island destination guides
Phillip Island: Penguins, Koalas and Kangaroos Day Tour from Melbourne
See penguins, koalas and kangaroos on a day trip to Phillip Island, Melbourne's wildlife wonderland and holiday island. Visit a wildlife park to get up close with koalas and kangaroos, then watch sea birds and fur seals in the rocky formation known as the Nobbies.
Phillip Island Penguin Small Group Eco Tour from Melbourne
See all the world class attractions of Phillip Island in one day on this small group eco tour from Melbourne. Indulge yourself with wine tasting at The Phillip Island Winery and tasting of a range of Gippsland's cheeses, see chocolates being made at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and get up close to koalas at the Phillip Island Koala Conservation Center.