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Ten little penguins would probably do it, but there are plenty of other reasons to plan an adventure to Phillip Island. This little island is big on activities for almost any kind of weekend wanderer: surfers and sand-castle builders, wildlife watchers and sports spectators, foodies and fishing aficionados, jazz cats and history buffs. The best bit (aside from the penguins)? It's only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. Jump in the car and you'll be there before the first "are we there yet?"

Reason 1:  Swell beaches

Wave hello to some of the best surfing in the country. Declared Victoria's first National Surfing Reserve for its quality breaks and pristine environment, Phillip Island has four sites along its coast: Cape Woolamai, Smiths Beach, Summerland and Cat Bay. 

Its big wave conditions, left and right breaks, and small, consistent waves suitable for learners makes the island popular with grommets and seasoned board riders alike. Hang about and hang ten. There are plenty of places around the island to hire gear and sign up for lessons.

Reason 2: Destination dining 

Freshly caught seafood and locally sourced produce are served up with spectacular views at Phillip Island's dining hot spots. Chew with a view of the Southern Ocean at The Cape Kitchen, or take in the Rhyll waterfront from the deck of The Foreshore Bar and Restaurant. On the outskirts of Cowes, The Shearing Shed is worth a visit for the sheer expanse of its farmland home.

For a drop, visit family-run Purple Hen Wines for a cool climate wine, and take caf-fiends to micro-roastery and eatery BEANd.  

Reason 3: Cute suits

Fact: the collective noun for little penguins on land is a 'waddle'. And they waddle in seriously cute suits. Pay a visit to the Penguin Parade to watch them surface from a day's fishing and waddle up the beach to their burrows in the sand dunes. 

These little penguins are the smallest of their species and grow to only 33 centimetres so for a face-to-face sticky beak, book a spot in the underground viewing bunker.    

Reason 4: Koalaty time

Phillip Island is home to a huge population of koalas. For guaranteed sightings of our furry friends dozing in their eucalypt environs visit the Koala Conservation Centre and wander along the treetop boardwalks.

Twitchers, visit Phillip Island in spring to see shearwater birds flock from Alaska to the warmer climes of the island to breed. The birds breed from September to April, so keep an eye out over summer as they find their mates and settle down.

Reason 5: On the rocks

Some 35,000 seals make their home off the coast of Phillip Island at Seal Rocks, Australia's largest fur seal colony. Venture out to on a boat cruise with Wild Oceans Eco Boat Adventures or Wildlife Coast Cruises to see the seals fish from the rocks, taking in the rugged coastline along the way.

Reason 6: A-maze-ing family fun   

This little island is big on family fun. Let the kids channel their inner Charlie at Panny's Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and burn off the sugar rush among the mazes, mini-golf and mysterious caves at A Maze’N Things. For a virtual expedition to the Southern Ocean take the family on an interactive Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre: big deep-sea adventures without all the extra packing.

Reason 7: Holiday catch ups

Angling for a fishing holiday? This is your island. Join the locals and snapper up an excellent catch from the jetties at Cowes, Newhaven, Rhyll and San Remo. Cast your net further afield and take a fishing charter or your own boat out onto Westernport Bay.

If you happen to return empty handed, stop by San Remo Fishing Co-operative to buy seafood straight off the boat. No one ever need know. They also do the best fish and chips in town.

Junior anglers in tow? Head to Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm.  

Reason 8: Circuit breakers

Torque about motorsports: the famed Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit plays host each year to the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP - October), World Superbike Championships (February) and the V8 Supercars (April). Any time of year, satisfy your need for speed on the go-kart track – a scale replica of the actual circuit – at the Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre.

Reason 9: Island grooves

Cats, the Phillip Island Jazz Festival is the toe-tapping-est way to get into the island groove. Every November, local and touring jazz bands bring three days of swing, gypsy and trad sounds to Cowes.

The island tunes don't stop when the festival ends: live bands and solo acts can be found adding beats to sunny afternoon sessions and late night revelry at venues around the island all year round.  

Reason 10: Churchill Island

For a two-fold island experience, venture over to Churchill Island. History buffs, this is your dream island home. The site of the first farm in Victoria, this is the place to delve into pioneering history and nineteenth-century farming techniques. Watch whip cracking, sheep shearing and working dogs doing the hard yards. Jump aboard a Clydesdale-driven wagon or wander through the original homestead and traditional gardens at your own pace.

Beachy keen

Destination dining

Events

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Wildlife watching

Phillip Island

Koala Conservation Centre

Wander through the tree-top boardwalks and see koalas up close in their natural habitat.

Wildlife Coast Cruises

Spot seals, whales and more on environmentally accredited wildlife, twilight and lunch cruises.

Wild Oceans EcoBoat Tour

Experience the thrill of a high speed boat ride along Phillip Island’s rugged and spectacular...

The Nobbies

Take in a myriad of stunning sights and curious creatures at the headland known as The Nobbies.

Phillip Island Nature Parks

See little penguins every day of the year, peek into burrows, and spot other Australian animals.

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Out & about

Phillip Island

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Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre

Get your motor running with go-karting, guided tours and Australia's largest slot car track.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Take a step back in time and explore the heritage and tranquil scenery of Churchill Island’s...

National Surfing Reserve

Get started or test your mettle in the big swells of Phillip Island's National Surfing Reserve.

Fishing

Cast a line in tranquil surrounds around Phillip Island and catch fresh seafood for family dinners.

A Maze'N Things

Spend a fun day with the kids and be amused and amazed by optical illusions, puzzles and mazes.

Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies

Immerse yourself in a fun and interactive virtual journey to the world's most extreme continent.

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Phillip Island

Events

Bikes with motors and bikes without, music to make you twist and shout – get into the island groove and find a range of events for the whole family.

Outdoor activities

Cycling

A couple of days are all it takes to explore the attractions on compact Phillip Island if you equip yourself with a bicycle and an adventurous spirit.

Outdoor activities

Scenic flights

Strap yourself in and explore the spectacular coastline, picturesque towns and myriad attractions of Victoria's Phillip Island on a helicopter tour.

Things to do

History and heritage

Visit the original Churchill Island homestead, walk through traditional herb and flower gardens and discover nineteenth century farming techniques.