Now I know a lot of people travelling to Australia stop by Melbourne. And so you should — I love Melbourne and hope to eventually move there one day. But when you visit, why not take a trip to Phillip Island? It is located only 140 km south of the Victorian capital. I fortunately have a great-uncle living on the island who I visited back in 2010. The scenery is breathtaking — think beautiful beaches and rocky cliffs. Supposedly it will take you back to Ireland (so my parents say; I haven’t made it there yet). Here are some of my favourite things to do and see on the island.
The Grand Prix of Phillip Island
There is the infamous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The circuit opened in 1956 and is used each year for several events. These include the Grand Prix Motorcycling Australia World Championship, the World Superbike Championship, the V8 Supercars and the Australian Grand Prix. We visited when there was no competition. However, motorcyclists and drivers can visit the track and drive it on off days. If you are a motor enthusiast definitely check out the website for more information regarding taking the circuit for your own test drive.
The Penguins of Phillip Island
To me, seeing the penguins at the Penguin Parade has been a highlight of all my travels. I was absolutely enthralled during my visit and I wish I could go back every night to see them.
To see the penguins, you have to get there as the sun sets to purchase your tickets. Then you sit on stands high up on the sandy beach cliffs waiting for the penguins arrival back from their day out eating at sea. It is just absolutely hilarious watching the creatures coming into shore. They come in quite large groups of about 10 to 20. However, if one of them is shy and doesn’t want to come out of the water, they all waddle back in. It is all or none. So you can be sitting there for an hour just watching them trying to pluck up the courage to make it all the way up the sand dunes. Sometimes they would even get halfway up the beach but then one would go “Nope, can’t do this” and waddle back into the water, so the rest would follow suit.To some this might not sound that great but it is one of those things you just have to see for yourself. You are unable to take photos at the parade, for obvious reasons, so hopefully my description will suffice. As the penguins do their adorable waddle up the sand, you then make your way onto a wooden walkway that takes you back to the parade entrance. From here you can get really up close to them as they go home to their family for the night. What amazes me is that they do this every day. And by the time they make their way home they don’t get too much rest before it’s time to go back to work finding food in the beautiful Victorian waters. As you follow them home you can hear the chirps of their infants calling them, saying hello. It is a constant sound that echoes over the beach.
The Beauty of Phillip Island
So when you have fallen in love with the penguins and visited the Grand Prix, take a stroll along one of the many beautiful beaches that make up the island. However, it does get quite cold down there so you may need a wetsuit for diving into the water. But you will be gifted with waves for the surfers in some bays and calm, clear water in others.
The island is connected to the mainland via a bridge so you can either hire a car or hop on a tour for your visit. There are several tourism groups that depart Melbourne for the day or weekend on Phillip Island. And while you’re there you may just find Australia’s next Hollywood superstar as this is where the Hemsworth brothers grew up. Perhaps another (very good-looking) reason to visit, if you need it.