Within an easy couple of hours drive from Melbourne, Phillip island is about 26 km long and about 9km wide, totalling around 100 square kilometres. Arriving at Phillip Island in an open whale boat on 5 January 1798, George Bass named Phillip Island after the first Governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip.
The roughly 97km of coastline is rugged in places, with pounding waves hitting sandy or rocky beach areas. This island not only forms a natural breakwater for the Western Port, it is also home to around 9500 permanent residents, with upwards of 40 000 inhabitants during the summer.
Connected to the mainland by a 640 metre concrete bridge, Phillip Island has a multitude of activities to amuse visitors.
Not long after arriving on the Island, the iconic Phillip Island race Circuit comes into view on our left hand side. Don’t be shy, follow the signs down to the cafe and information centre. The idea for this racing focused venue, and constructions of same, emerged in the early to mid 1950’s.Memorabilia encased in the walls, to honour those racing legends who have passed on, lines the curved entrance hallway to the main information centre. A huge mural inside gives you a full birds eye view of the track. Here we found friendly helpful staff, with plenty of ideas on offer should you wish to partake in activities. Opposite the main desk, a wall of options and costings is in clear view for all. Or, take a selfie on the podium, with helmet underarm and trophy held high.Choose your activity, perhaps stop by the cafe or souvenir shop, wander out onto the cafe balcony area to greet the local wildlife, there really is something here for everyone.There’s a few peacocks about, and they are not afraid to wander up for a chat or show off their colours. They’re not fenced in here, free to come and go as they please, but, the general choice seems to be to stay.
Once you have satisfied your curiosity at this stop, head back out to the road and continue exploring the island.
Our next stop was at the new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre. The massive $58 million structure, still being finished, provides an entrance to the penguin population residing here.This expansive building has been designed to handle the influx of visitors during the busy season. Still smelling completely new, you can stop for a bite to eat, organise a tour, learn about the local wildlife from the interactive displays or browse the gift shop.The reasons for the sweaters? Back in the late nineties the ‘Knits for Nature’ began to help save penguins from soaking in oil after spills, until staff could clean the oil off them. These little jumpers have to be knitted just right to fit their intended subjects.
Spend some time in this beautiful National Park, theres a lot of different wildlife including birds, and seals to see as well as beautiful landscapes.
Our final stop was to be The Cape Kitchen for lunch, which we had passed as we first came onto the island. With a table up the very front, overlooking the open waters of the Bass Strait, what better place to stop and relax.Delightful staff, a beautiful expansive restaurant, amazing views, finished off with local fresh produce off the well thought out menu. Again, this building is massive, designed with the tourist and local market in mind. If you haven’t stopped in here, even just for a coffee and cake, then you really are missing out on a fantastic experience. Our day visit wasn’t a long one, but given its an easy hour and a half or so drive from Melbourne, it’s incredible what a total contrast to the city this area is.
Enjoy Phillip Island, there is a lot here. Plenty of spots to stop and much to see. We missed quite a bit on this trip, but you cant do everything. There’s always next time!
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