As much as I love living in Melbourne sometimes you just need to make an escape! To celebrate my airbnb guests finding an apartment and my first article being published on Skyscanner, we decided to take a day trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island.
Known for its Little Penguins (you can’t call them Fairy Penguins any more, but that’s another story), car racing history and being home to Thor (that’s Chris Hemsworth for you mere mortals), Phillip Island is a two-hour drive from Melbourne; and yes, it really is an island with a short concrete bridge connecting the town of San Remo on the mainland to the town of Newhaven on the island.
While we were there to see the nightly Penguin Parade, and perhaps a quick trip to the Koala Conservation Centre, I wanted to show Segundo and Kari, airbnb guests staying with me back in the city, where one of my favourite places on the island is.
From The Nobbies Centre – an interactive education centre, gift shop and cafeteria – the area might not look like much, but take a walk along the boardwalk to see the characters (like the little boy, below) visiting that day and the remnants of a volcanic landscape that has been weathered by the relentless movement of the ocean.
The Nobbies is known for more than just its beautiful view. As you take the boardwalk you’ll see small wooden boxes for penguins who have decided to make the headland home. Unfortunately, during the day you won’t see them, they’ll be hunting in the ocean, but there is the option to stop at the nearby Penguin Parade where a rookery of penguins will cross the sands and make their way to their burrows just after nightfall each night.
Just one and a half kilometres offshore you’ll find Australia’s largest colony of Australian Fur Seals. Atop Seal Rock (pictured below), you’ll find more than 16,000 seals.
You can watch from the fixed binoculars available near the centre but consider taking a seal watching cruise that will help you get closer to these playful creatures. From October to December – breeding season – the colonies numbers will grow, but it’s highly likely you will see them year round.
Also, the area is well-known for its protected sea birds and, during the winter months, whale watching.
For me, the visit to Phillip Island and The Nobbies wasn’t simply about exploring a beautiful area. It was about spending time with wonderful people.
It’s not often enough I spend time exploring Melbourne and surrounding Victoria, so having friends visit – or lovely airbnb guests like Segundo and Kari – gives me an excuse to escape the office and head off on a local adventure.
I’ve had plenty of friends visit and they think they’re burdening me when I suggest we head off on a road trip to the Great Ocean Road, Marysville, Phillip Island or beyond. Trust me, you aren’t! In fact, I get a case of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) when I see your beautiful pictures and hear what the tour guide did (or didn’t) show you.
Speaking of what tour guides didn’t show you, The Nobbies has its own secret few would know.
Be sure to visit The Nobbies just before sunset and take the ‘alternative road’ back to the Penguin Parade (follow the roundabout around and just before The Nobbies Centre there is a dirt road entrance). Not only does the dirt road have more incredible water views and is the perfect place for a peaceful picnic, but, come sunset, wild wallabies will come out to feast on the grasses.
Wild wallabies, little penguins, friends, stunning sunsets and a road trip versus being stuck behind a desk working. I think you know which option I’d choose every day of the week!
Now it’s over to you
Have you visited Phillip Island?
Where has your best road trip been?
Where would you like to visit in Victoria?
How to get to Phillip Island:
By car: Take the Monash Freeway (M1) to the Cranbourne exit and follow the South Gippsland Highway (M420). Connect onto the Bass Highway (A420) and then onto Phillip Island Road (B420) to San Remo. Cross over the bridge to reach Phillip Island.
View a map of the route here.
By public transport: There are bus and train transport options to Phillip Island from Cranbourne and Dandenong train stations. To get to Cranbourne or Dandenong, the fastest way to travel is by train.
Check the Public Transport Victoria website for more information and to plan your journey.