We just spent a lovely weekend in Phillip Island and I'm amazed this is our first time to this gorgeous spot even though it is so close to Melbourne!
We arrived on Friday evening and stayed at the local Big 4 Caravan park. Big 4 parks are such a great option for a family road trip because they are cheap and cheerful, usually in a great location (this one is right on the beach) and, most importantly, they have pedal buggies!
The next morning we took a mangroves walk through the north of Phillip Island (fully accessible on wheels) and then visited the Chocolate factory. The Chocolate Factory has a sweet little museum with plenty for the kids to interact with including robot penguins that give free chocolate samples, a shop full of tasty treats and a great cafe with a top notch curry lunch.
After lunch we headed to the Nobbies which is a beautiful cliff top boardwalk over Great Ocean Road like scenery. Phillip Island gets major points for accessibility! We took our wheels everywhere. This walk was just lovely and even though we didn't spot any seals on the day there are seal colonies living here.
In the evening we did the mandatory penguin parade. We received all kinds of advice on how best to enjoy the penguin parade and there are some things to consider. The evening starts in the visitor centre, buy your tickets in advance to avoid the lines. It is recommended to arrive an hour before sunset, when the Penguins arrive, but rangers hold back the crowds until a little closer to penguin time. Once the doors are open its a mad rush down to the beach to grab a seat on the stands. The best spots are on the sides of the stands as the Penguins waddle up the sides. If you have a pram you can leave it up the top of the stands or carry it with you down to the lamp post level.
Now, you wait.
We brought some books to pass the time but there is also an app for penguin enthusiasts and free WiFi. Photography is permitted before sunset but strictly prohibited after.
Once the Penguins start arriving it's your call how long you wait on the beach before walking back along the boardwalk to watch them going into their homes. The boardwalk bit is really the highlight, especially for kids, because it is so much closer. I would say head to the boardwalk as soon as you've seen a few groups hit the beach.
The next morning we got up with the sun and fed the resident rabbits before watching sunrise at the beach (only a very short walk from our cabin).
First adventure for the day was to Pyramid Rock, well worth a look for some more spectacular views and quite possibly the best park bench in Victoria. This boardwalk is only accessible to a point, we abandoned the wheels halfway and carried Rav for the stairs at the end.
Next we visited the Koalas at the Koala Sanctuary for about 45 minutes. The koala enclosures are quite good and you get close up but you don't need to allow too much time unless you are planning on doing the bushwalking as well.
At noon we drove to the base of the San Marino bridge to see the Pelicans get fed. This is a free event that happens daily and was one of the highlights for the kids. Across the road is a great little bakery that makes for a perfect lunch.
Our last stop was a visit to Churchill Island which is an historic farm. There are wagon rides, farming displays, animals and lovely gardens and houses to explore. It's open from 10am but activities start at 1pm.
Phillip Island Tips:
1. Check Groupon and alike for accomodation deals. We got a great two night deal which made this a very affordable little holiday.
2. There are 3 and 4 attraction passes that will save you money if you are planning on visiting all the big attractions. Big 4 members get additional discount on these passes.
3. Check the weather, some walks are closed during strong winds.
4. The penguin parade happens at sunset, if the kids go to bed early go in winter or they will be asleep before the waddling starts.
Enjoy the trip!