I have spent the last 3 days on an island just off the coast of Melbourne which you can reach by road. My initial plan was to stay 2 days on Phillip Island but I was so tired when I got hereI decided to to stay one more night so that I could take in some more of the walks. Phillip Island is a rather strange but beautiful place, measuring some 30km across it does not have much to offer in the ways of parties but is well worth spending a few days there. I had the option of taking a tour here $110 AUD for a whirlwind tour on a bus to come here, see the sights and leave, it all felt a bit wham bam thank you mam to me so I did a bit of research and decided to do it my way. I picked up the 3 parks pass £37.50 AUD because I knew I was going to go to the Penguin Parade and the Koala centre but was not sure about Churchill Island, you save a bit of cash if you do all three so it seemed sensible to do so.
The V-Line busses provide a good service over to the Island for around $13 AUD. The busses run about 4 times a day from Southern Cross station in central Melbourne. I stayed in a place called The Island Accommodation, a new and eco-friendly YHA hostel with all the facilities you would generally need for $30 AUD a night. As a point of note if your staying here ask for Newhaven and not Cowes for a ticket to save a few dollars. Once on the island if you don’t have a car or you can”t drive like me things are tricky but doable. The main attractions are the nature parks, the penguin parade, Koala reserve as well as a place called The Nobbies that has seals that sadly I did not get to visit. So you can get busses to Cowes (the main hub of Phillip Island) and there are quite a few cars heading that way so I guess it would be possible to hitch but because I am mad or because I like walking I chose to walk the 15km from Newhaven to Cowes which bypassed the Koala Conservation grounds, it was a nice day but sadly the walk is uninteresting nothing but straight paved paths following the main Phillip Island Road.
The Koala conservation centre was small but good, I have never really seen a Koala up close and I got to wander round their natural habitat and got close enough to take this picture that I am rather happy with considering it’s not my good camera.
Once at Cowes if you want to go to see the penguins again your a bit stuck unless your prepared to hitch or use the Penguin Express Taxi service ($15 AUD round trip) which you have to book in advance so I did that. The Penguin parade is kinda cool, you get to see the fuzzy little creatures scamper out of the water and up the banks towards their burrows. I’m not sure what warrants the $22 AUD fee though but some advise from someone who has done it, take something to sit on (old cushion, towel etc), take something to keep warm with, the sea breeze coming over at night can make it quite chilly and be prepared to wait. Depending on when the Taxi service or lift out of the Parade is going ensure you leave a good 20-30 minutes walking around the boardwalks where you will be able to get a bit closer to the penguins (providing all the other tourists are not being selfish). Keep quiet, walk slowly and keep your eyes open you may see something other tourists whisk past as they fight to get a better view, this is a case of being patient and observant.
On my final full day I decided to again go for a big walk which first of all I took in Churchill Island (3km from Newhaven) to see the farm in which I got to talk to a 50 year old Cocatoo called George (who was awesome), took a photo of a horse and joined in like a big kid milking a cow. From there I walked back to the beach and walked to one of the best surf spots on the island at Cape Woolamai (about another 3km). Once there I took the walk up to the highest point on the island (112m) is worth the trip if you can make it, the views on the way up are spectacular, nothing but blue/green clear seas crashing dramatically against the rocks and fresh air. Be warned though even I underestimated just how tough the walk is (and maybe because I had walked 15km the day before) the 6km round trip isn’t exactly difficult terrain it’s just to get there I had to traverse two beaches and walking on sand is incredibly tiring. I got back to the hostel with about an hour of light to spare and virtually no energy. I think the combination of the previous days walking, the sea air, the beach walk back, and sun I was totally ready and in bed by 9pm.
So that was Phillip Island, a really good 3 day trip out of central Melbourne, much better than the whirlwind tour I think, okay it cost me more but I got to spend time on the island which for me is worth the extra spend.