Things To Do In And Around Melbourne #7 :: Phillip Island by:Dominique Vangheel
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, Australia. Melbourne offers great shopping and dining and Victoria has got a beautiful countryside and coast line combining beautiful national and state parks with quiet little towns and some larger regional centres. Phillip Island is a charming island with some big tourist attractions like the penguin parade and the Motor Racing Grand Prix. It is a great place to go for a short break, relax and be one with nature.
Phillip Island is located about 90 minutes away from Melbourne, Phillip Island is linked to the mainland by a bridge connecting the mainland town of San Remo to the island town of Newhaven. Once you have arrived there are plenty of accommodations for staying overnight on the island. Hotels are located in the main township of Cowes and other towns on the island. Beach side apartments can be found on the islands seaside villages. Resorts, camping sites and caravan rentals also allow guests different ways of experiencing the island.
Phillip Island draws over 3.5 million tourists each year and the primary reason for that is the penguin parade. The penguin parade allows visitors a chance to see the world's smallest species of penguins up close. Australia is one of the few places in the world where this species of penguin is found. At the Phillip Island Nature Park, an area has been set aside specifically for viewing. Just after the sun sets down, the fairy penguins as they are often called return from fishing in the sea to their sand dune burrows. You can witness as the penguins return to the island in groups; the entire process lasts about 50 minutes.
The lights and elevated boardwalks make it easy for you to see the penguins. You can't make photographs, but you can see the little penguins from only a few feet away. They are a mesmerizing breed and you will find yourself not able to stop looking at them. Additionally, visitors must stay within the designated areas to not disturb the animals. You should also remember to dress warmly when you come have a look at the penguins. At night by the seaside you can easily get cold as my family has experienced in a number of occassions!
Though penguins might be the main draw, there is much more wildlife to experience on Phillip Island. The Noobies Centre offers an interactive look at marine life through high tech cameras that capture their every move while removing unobtrusive. You can see sea bird colonies, sharks, seals and dolphins as well as the island's beautiful south coast. The Blowhole is a sea cave that is must see during high tide as it can shoot out sea spray. A visit to the Koala Conservation Centre will give you a treetop view of koalas and native island birds.
Just offshore of Newhaven is the historic Churchill Island. This historic working farm dating back to the late 1800s includes sheep, chickens, Clydesdale horses and peacocks. This is where you can walk through beautiful woodlands showcasing the islands birdlife and trees hundreds of years old.
If you are interested in a more action oriented trip, you will be glad to know that Phillip Island does not disappoint with popular activities including fishing, boating scuba diving and island walks. Cape Woolamai offers one of the best panoramic views of the island for taking a walk. Its beach is also popular among professional surfers looking for strong rips and currents. For swimming the north side of the island is better as the seas tend to be a little less rough.
Fans of motorsport will not be disappointed when touring Phillip Island. The island was the original home to the Australian Grand Prix and the Bathurst 1000. The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is the current home of the motorcycle version of the Grand Prix and is the host venue for a number of other motorsport events. The Visitor Centre covers the history of the motor racing on the island and provides a guided tour of the circuit.
So you see, Phillip Island, despite its' size, has got a wide variety of attractions. When you visit Melbourne for longer than a few days I would definitely recommend you come check out the Penguin Parade at least. Those little creatures are really wonderful. Anything else is up to the time you have available and what you want to do, but you can definitely spend a day or two on the island without getting bored. Spend any longer and you run the risk of falling in love with Phillip Island and never wanting to leave again!
About the author
Dominique Vangheel lives in Melbourne and loves it. His site I Love Melbourne is dedicated to Melbourne and Victoria and features the best things to do in and around Melbourne and Melbourne accommodation tips.