Guide to Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a popular tourist hotspot that sits off the coast of Melbourne, lying only 90 minutes outside of Melbourne and accessible by bridge, it is a great place to spend a day away on one of Australia’s most beautiful islands. It was named after the first Governor or New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, and provides a wonderfully unique landscape for visitors to explore and if you are visitng Melbourne a Phillip Island Tour is a must.

Sprawling out across 26km lengthways and 9km widthways, it acts as a breakwater for the lively waves of the Western Port. Phillip Island is famed in particular for its array of beaches and, with a coastline of 97km, there’s a stretch of sand for every taste – from surf bays and family-friendly shores to havens of wildlife and rugged, secluded coves.

But Phillip Island isn’t just a day-trip destination. As of 2011, there are around 9,500 permanent inhabitants of the island, which seems to be increasing steadily each year. However, in summer, where the tourist crowds flock in, this number bloats to around 40,000.

The History of Phillip Island

The first residences of Phillip Island were the traditional owners of the land; the Aboriginal people. The tribe inhabiting the island was the Bunurong tribe, which were based around western Port. However, they were not permanently within this area, rather only coming during the mutton bird season to gather the eggs and young birds for food.

The next to discover the island was George Bass, who voyaged there in 1798 on January the 5th. As he travelled down from Port Jackson, he named the area of Western Port as it was west from his sighting. After this, sealers soon approached the area, hunting the seals at the Seal Rocks nearby the Nobbies.

It wasn’t until 1842 when the next residences came to Phillip Island. When the two McHaffie Brothers leased the island in the goal to herd sheep. However, this didn’t last long, as the brothers lost the majority of the island once a new settlement opened on the island in 1868.

Unfortunately, Phillip Island’s new settlement did not prosper right away, with the harsh conditions leading to drought and failed crops. Due to the lack of water and food, many of the settlers left. However, it wasn’t until they planted the plant Chicory and grew successfully, did the people see the island’s potential. This plant has grown on Phillip Island ever since, thriving in the wildlife for over 100 years, being the Island’s visual icon.

Phillip Island and Its Unique Landscape

Phillip Island Landscape

For the most part, Phillip Island boasts an agricultural landscape and is peppered with a number of farms. This introduces visitors to the local way of living, and they are free to purchase fresh produce from any number of the farm shops.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws of Phillip Island, though, besides its spectacular landscape, is its climate. Boasting much milder weather than Melbourne, it offers a breezy respite from the hot shores of the Australian mainland. In fact, its climate tends to be more in line with northern New Zealand than Australia – a definite bonus during the sun-baked summer months.

Phillip Island is also a major surfing destination, and is considered to have some of the most reliable surf conditions in the whole of Australia. There’s also the Churchill Island Working Horse extravaganza and the Pioneer Festival which are huge hits with visitors.

Why You Should Visit Phillip Island

  • The Beaches

    The Beaches

    The beaches are one of the biggest draws of Phillip Island. Shallow waters are flanked by pristine sands that unfold into thick, lush rainforest landscape; and there’s something for everyone, too, whether you want to try out the rolling waves of the surf beaches or head to family friendlier sands like those at Cowes Beach. The calm waters of Cowes Beach on the north coast allow for a relaxed swim, whereas the waters of the south coast draw surfers from across the country to carve out the bigger waves.

  • The Animals


    Aside from the beaches, Phillip Island is renowned for its excellent selection of animal encounters. Australia’s native critters are big draw here, particularly the Penguin Parade that takes place every evening on the island.

    This event is one of the island’s best-loved activities, where visitors can watch the colony of Little Penguins waddle up the beach after a long, hard day of fishing. It’s one of the only areas in the world where this species of penguin can be seen, and it draws in thousands of visitors every single year. There is also the chance to learn more about these cute creatures while on site.

    Elsewhere, visitors can get up close and personal with more of Australia’s wildlife. Hug a koala at the Koala Conservation Centre or discover the largest colony of fur seals in Australia as they bask on the sunny rocks near The Nobbies.

    It’s not just the penguins that call Phillip Island home, either. In fact, there are a wide range of plant and animal species, including a whole host of bird species, native Burrunan dolphins, Orcas, and humpback whales. The island is a great viewing point for the ocean life, which is one of the biggest draws for nature lovers.

  • The Sports


    It’s hard to believe that such a natural landscape is home to some of Australia’s most prevalent sporting events, but at the island’s Grand Prix Circuit visitors can witness the calendar of exciting games and races. When the Moto GP or other big races aren’t on, visitors can explore the track and learn more about this historic sport that has remained an important part of Australian culture for many years. You’ll also have the chance to skid around the corners of the go-kart track with your family, ensuring unforgettable memories from your visit to Phillip Island.

  • The Farms

    The Farm

    Fresh produce is a huge industry on Phillip Island, and visitors can explore this important part of daily life at the numerous farms that are dotted around the island. On these traditional working farms, you can muck in with the daily chores and learn more about this industry while soaking up spectacular views.

  • Family Activities

    Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

    The picturesque views of the island’s beautiful scenery mixed with the variety of activities and attractions guarantee a fun and memorable holiday for the whole family. To entertain the whole family, you can visit Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and Grumpy’s Miniature Golf course as well as challenge your brain at A Maze’N Things, an attraction dedicated to optical illusions, mazes and puzzles that will mystify and delight your children.

Check out the Best Things to Do on Phillip Island.

Language »