Phillip Island is a small island located just off from Victoria’s southern coast, a couple of hours away from Melbourne to the south-east.
Phillip Island is probably best known for its little penguin colony which makes its way onto the beach each evening at sunset, while the island is also home to plenty of other local wildlife including kangaroos, koalas and emus.
As well as its wildlife, Phillip Island is known for its motorsport circuit, plus plenty of other fun and family-friendly activities.
This is how to spend one day on Phillip Island:
Start your trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island early
Visiting Phillip Island from Melbourne in just one day is certainly doable, however, to make the most of all the great things there are to do, you’re going to want to set off from Melbourne pretty early. The drive takes roughly 1 hr 45 minutes, so I’d recommend leaving around 8-8:30am.
How to get from Melbourne to Phillip Island?
The best way to get to Phillip Island is by car. Take the Monash Freeway (M1) from Melbourne, then take the Cranbourne exit onto the South Gippsland Highway (M420). Follow this route to the Bass Highway (A420), through Grantville and Bass, then onto the Phillip Island Road (B420) and over the San Remo bridge onto Phillip Island.
Not travelling by car? Check out this useful article.
Feed the Kangaroos at Phillip Island Wildlife Park
The first stop on this 1 Day Phillip Island Itinerary is the Phillip Island Wildlife Park, an amazing 60-acre park which is home to over 100 different species of Australian animals. Inside of the park you’ll find everything from snakes and lizards to koalas, kangaroos and a large number of local bird species.
The park doesn’t just allow you to see the animals but also lets you get up close and personal with many of them, including hand feeding the kangaroos, wallabies and emus.
Upon buying your ticket for the park you’ll be given a bag of kangaroo food each, while additional bags cost just $0.50.
The majority of the kangaroos in the park are extremely friendly and will gently eat food straight from the palm of your hand. You’ll also be able to stroke them when they’re close to you.
However, just like with any reasonably sized animal, approach them slowly, don’t make sudden movements or loud noises, and respect their space if they don’t seem interested in approaching you. The adult male kangaroos can grow to be particularly large and strong, so you definitely wouldn’t want to start a fight with one of these.
My number one piece of advice for visiting Phillip Island Wildlife Park is to be weary around the Emus.
The large birds also roam freely around the park, and they’ll be more than happy to take some of the kangaroo feed off your hands (just keep your palm flat). But these birds are not quite as genteel and timid as the roo’s and may end up chasing or harassing you for their dinner. Stand your ground if they start to get too intrusive; simply stand up tall and walk away from them slowly.
Tickets: Adults $19, Children $9.
Address: 2115 Phillip Island Rd, Cowes VIC 3922, Australia
Opening Times: 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Spot the Koala’s at The Koala Reserve
Phillip Island Wildlife Park does have a few of its own resident koalas, however, if you haven’t spent your entire morning feeding the kangaroos and still have some time left, head just up the road to The Koala Reserve where you can see even more of one of Australia’s most iconic creatures.
The Koala Reserve on Phillip Island is a beautiful eucalypt woodland where guests can come ‘face-to-face’ with koalas in their natural habitat. You can explore the unique treetop boardwalks and take a tour led by an experienced ranger where you’ll learn more about koala’s and discover behind the scenes information about the reserve.
The ecotourism attraction is particularly focused on promoting koala conservation, with a special koala breeding program meaning you might be lucky enough to spot some tiny koala joeys exploring outside of their mother’s pouch for the first time.
Tickets: Adults $13.20, Children $6.60
Address: 1810 Phillip Island Road, Phillip Island, Victoria 3923
Opening times: 10am to 5pm (6pm during peak summer)
The next stop on your 1 day Phillip Island itinerary is lunch – just make sure you’ve washed your hands after feeding the kangaroos and emus theirs!
Where to eat on Phillip Island?
The Cape Kitchen
The Cape Kitchen supports regional, Victorian and Australian producers, with a delicious seasonal menu using all fresh produce grown, harvested or made within a few hours of Phillip Island The restaurant also has an oceanfront setting, with amazing views across from Cape Woolamai through to Pyramid Rock and out onto the Southern Ocean. A beautiful spot to grab lunch and try some local Victorian cuisine.
Address: 1215 Phillip Island Road, Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria 3925
Opening times: Friday to Monday from 8am to 4:30 for breakfast and lunch.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little cheaper, keep an eye out for Phillip Island’s many markets throughout the year.
Churchill Island Farmer’s Market
A local farmer’s market is held on Churchill Island, a tiny scenic island on the East of Phillip Island, every 4th Saturday of the month, starting at 8am and finishing at 1pm. The market has over 40 stalls selling a variety of goods, grown and produced in the local area.
Market on Chapel
Held in the grounds of the Uniting Church in the town of Cowes on the 4th Saturday of the month from 9am – 1pm, the Market on Chapel has a number of stalls selling produce, crafts, plants, knick-knacks, hot food & drinks.
The best time to visit Phillip Island’s markets is during peak summer, with both the Churchill Island Farmer’s Market and Market on Chapel running extra markets throughout late December and January.
There is also the Island Foreshore Market in Cowes during the summer months and peak dates, with plenty of local food, wine, produce and even live music. 2019/2020’s dates include December 14 & 28, 2019; January 4 & 25, 2020; February 15, 2020; March 7, 2020; April 4 & 11, 2020; May 2, 2020.
Indulge your Sweet Tooth at Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
No need to order dessert with lunch as the next stop on your Phillip Island itinerary is Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate.
Panny’s Chocolate Factory is a celebration of all things chocolate and the ultimate chocolate lovers dream!
As well as being a working chocolate factory where you can see the chocolatiers working away producing premium Belgian chocolate, Panny’s has a chocolate museum with an interactive exhibition teaching you about the chocolate-making process, as well as many amazing attractions including the worlds largest chocolate waterfall, a chocolate model village, a one-tonne chocolate block, a chocolate Michaelangelo’s David, a chocolate arcade, and even a chocolate machine which you can create your own flavours.
Then once you’re done exploring the chocolate factory, head to Panny’s Cafe for some chocolatey treats and to Panny’s Shop to grab some gifts to take home with you.
Tickets: Adults $14, Children $11 (including free samples)
Address: 930 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven VIC 3925
Opening times: 10am to 5:30pm
Visiting Phillip Island in summer or winter?
At this point in the itinerary, what time of year it is will influence what you do next. This is because the timing of Phillip Island’s best thing to see, the Penguin Parade, changes throughout the year as the famous Penguins arrive at sunset every night.
During the summer months from November to March, the penguins arrive between 8pm-9pm, meaning there’s probably time to fit in one more activity before heading to see the penguins. However, if you’re visiting Phillip Island during the winter months, the penguins can arrive as early as 5:30pm, meaning you’ll have to arrive quite sharp.
Just make sure you check your timings so you don’t miss Phillip Island’s penguin parade.
Take an Eco Boat Adventures to see the island’s marine wildlife
Eco Boat Adventures is a high speed 90 minute boat ride along Phillip Island’s beautiful coastline, taking in sites including Nobbies sea-cave, Cat Bay National Surfing Reserve and even stopping to visit one of Australia’s largest colonies of fur seals who you’ll see happily playing in the water and on the surrounding rocks.
If you have time after visiting the chocolate factory, jump on either the 3pm or 5pm Eco Boat tour of Phillip Island. They guarantee that you’ll be back in time for the evening penguin parade.
Tickets: Adults $85, Children $65
Hours: 3pm & 5pm (check out daily tour times here)
Address: Cowes Jetty, 11/13 The Esplanade, Cowes VIC 3922
Watch the Penguin Parade!
Watching the daily Penguin Parade is undoubtedly the most popular thing to do on Phillip Island, as well as being one of Australia’s most popular attractions.
Nine colonies of little penguins, whose numbers now total over 32,000, have called Victoria’s Phillip Island home for thousands of years and are the smallest penguin species in the world.
Each night at sunset, you can see one such colony of little penguins at the world-renowned penguin parade on the western coast of Phillip Island. Guests are likely to witness hundreds, if not thousands, of the little penguins waddle across the beach back to their homes along the coast after a long day out fishing in the ocean.
To watch the amazing nightly penguin parade, you will have to purchase tickets and sit in a designated viewing area. This has been the case since a decision was made by the local government to stop onlookers from accidentally destroying any of the penguin’s habitats and help protect the colonies. So just know that you’re doing the environmentally friendly thing!
Tickets: Adults $26.60, Children $13.20
Hours: Sunset. Times change throughout the year.
Address: 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands, Victoria 3922
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