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Island Life

August 6, 2018

The article and the pictures by Rebecca Todesco

If you’re planning day trips around Victoria, then stop what you’re doing and immediately put Phillip Island at the top of your list. I’m talking about koalas, kangaroos, beaches and penguins all in one day!

Phillip Island is an Australian island that is a few hours’ drive southeasts of Melbourne. The island itself is less than 100 square kilometres so it is very easy to get from place to place once you’ve crossed onto the island. The island is extremely popular with tourists, especially in the warmer months and on the weekend. I would strongly advise making your visit on a weekday.

There are plenty of hotels and hostels on the island (or just across, on the mainland) if you decide to make your trip an overnight one. But if you leave early and have some people to share the driving with then it’s possible to do it all in one day.

Start your day with a visit to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park. This park is home to more than 100 species of Australian animals and is spread over a whopping 60 acres. You can see an array of famous Australian animals including dingoes, wombats, echidnas and bats.

The reptile house will bring you up close and personal with some of Australia’s scalier residents and you’ll be grateful for the wire that separates you from the birds of prey in the bird section. There’s even a raised platform that you can walk on which will allow you to get on the eye level of the koalas.

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For a small fee upon entry to the park, you can purchase a small bag of feed which you can use at my favourite area of the park: the free-range section. You’ll find yourself completely surrounded by kangaroos and wallabies with no fences to separate you. You can pat and feed them and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to get that snapshot for your Facebook.

If you’re brave enough you can even feed the emus but be warned: they’re big and they run fast!

After getting your fill of petting kangaroos and running from emus, head over to the western tip of the island to The Nobbies Centre. The headland cliffs are covered with a network of boardwalks which you can walk on, enjoying spectacular views of The Nobbies and Seal Rock.

At certain times of the year, if you’re lucky you can see some of the little penguins hiding in under the boardwalks or in their little burrows along the cliff’s edge.

If you choose to, there are boat tours that’ll take you offshore and closer to Seal Rocks for the chance to catch a glimpse of some seals. The Nobbies Centre boasts a gift shop chock-full of cute souvenirs as well as a café where you can sit and enjoy a coffee or snack in front of the floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the cliffs.

As the last activity of the day, head to the famous Penguin Parade. Phillip Island boasts the largest little penguin colony in all of Victoria. Decades worth of research effort has gone into the conservation of these little penguins at Phillip Island, making it one of the longest continuous seabird studies in the world.

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The research centre has plenty of information and exhibits about the little penguins, as well as a gift shop with an abundance of adorable penguin souvenirs. Visitors can learn all about what the penguins do at sea as well as why they make their way inland every night.

Just before sunset visitors make their way to Summerland Beach and fill the tiers of seating overlooking the water. Once the sun begins to set, keep your eyes peeled: that’s when the penguins make their way out of the water, up the beach and back to their burrows. You’ll be able to follow their journey from a safe distance as you make your way back up to the visitor centre.

If you get any time between activities head to the small town of Cowes. Like any quintessential beach town, the main strip of Cowes is crammed with fish and chips shops and coastal clothing and furniture stores. Spend some time having a wander or grab a serving of fish and chips and eat it on the beach.

(These are only a few of the activities available on Phillip Island. There is also a chocolate factory, Grand Prix circuit visitor centre and plenty of other wildlife parks)

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