Recently while I was visiting Melbourne to explore with my friend from Canada, we took a day trip to visit Phillip Island. The main thing to see at Phillip Island is the little penguins, but there are some other things along the way as well.
The biggest challenge is choosing just which tour to take. I managed to grab six different brochures from the stand at the hotel. We did still visit the Melbourne Visitors Centre and found even more brochures.
A Tour With A Difference
After taking a look at all the brochures, the tour offered by A Tour With A Difference stood out to us. Even though it was one of the more expensive options, it had a good list of inclusions. The two attractive aspects for us were a small group and the inclusion of a sit-down meal. You can find more information on their website ‘A Tour With A Difference‘.
The tour leaves Melbourne at a time relative to the time the little penguins will be arriving. Getting close to summer with a later sunset this is around 7.30pm at night. As such the tour pickup in Melbourne was right around midday.
The journey to Phillip Island from Melbourne takes around two hours. However, the tour is broken up slightly with the first stop just over an hour from Melbourne at a winery.
The Gurdies Winery
The stop at The Gurdies Winery was not of great interest to me since I am not much of a wine drinker. I could potentially even recall each of the times that I have had wine to drink. There was, of course, some wine tasting with six different wines and port. Plus they also provided some cheese, crackers and fruit. I do not see any benefit in passing any judgement on the wine, as I could not tell whether it was good or not. On the other hand, the location is amazing with a beautiful view across the vineyard.
Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
The next stop was the first on Phillip Island and one that I could get much more excited about. There is a very brief tour through the factory here, with an explanation of the chocolate making process. While I have seen the process demonstrated before in Mexico, there is a big difference between the handmade and commercial methods.
The next section of the tour shows a few pieces of I guess you could say art made with chocolate. Including a statue replica od “David” and an oversized portrait of Dame Edna made of many small chocolates. There was also a machine where you could write your name in chocolate to eat. Plus my favourite the Chocolate waterfall. There was a chance for a little shopping, but all I bought was a chocolate penguin.
Woolamai Surf Beach
The next stop was on the southern coast of Phillip Island at Woolamai Surf Beach. The stop was not long and more so for people to have a look and get a photo. The location is a very popular surf beach, maybe in summer, I can see it but not today. The waves that arrive here mostly originate in the Southern Ocean and the Bass Strait, which would create some good waves I imagine.
The tour offered a choice from here, either visit the local wildlife centre, or some free time in Cowes. Cowes is located on the northern side of the island looking out towards Western Port Bay. We opted to spend the time in Cowes.
At the time we visited Cowes, it seemed to be a rather beautiful and quiet little town. However, I imagine in holiday times that this is not so much the case. We took a walk along the boardwalk, before heading back up along the main street. The majority of business appears to focus on the passing trade for the Penguin Parade and Phillip Island Racetrack. But there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants as well.
A restaurant by the name of Gullivers in Cowes was the location for the included dinner. There was a small selection of meals to choose from, and I opted for the Aussie Beef Burger. It turned out to be a good choice and tasted quite good.
The Nobbies & Seal Rocks
There was just one more stop before heading to see the little penguins. The Nobbies and Seal Rocks, sit at the western most point of Phillip Island. The area here is a very beautiful spot, with some seals on the rocks, some penguin burrows in the area. But the thing that kind of spoils it is a large number of seagulls that nest here, and the noise they create.
Besides the wildlife, this area has some very dramatic scenery as well. You can see one part that includes a blowhole of sorts when the waves are big.
The very last stop on the tour was also the highlight for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade. The location is not far from the western end of the island. You cannot drive past this point after a certain time either, due to the potential for Penguins on the road.
The arrival at the penguin parade was rather early, almost an hour before sunset. The timing was to give us a good chance to get the best seats to see the penguins. Not a big issue as me and my friend have opted for the Penguins Plus option. A smaller seating area which is very close to one of the main areas the penguin’s pass through.
We were seated around 40 minutes before sunset, and in the front row as well. In the time that we had to wait, I listened to the audio guide that had been provided. Before the ranger gave a short talk about what we would see when the penguins arrived.
The sun had fully set, and it was getting rather close to the last light around 8.20pm. But then we saw the first of the Penguins come over the edge of the rocks. I did start trying to count them but soon gave this idea up as there were just too many. Within 10-15 minutes there would have easily been over 100 penguins passing. Many of them stopped right near to the seating area to preen themselves, not more than a couple of metres away.
If you would like to find out more information, there are a few places that you can look. I go into more detail about the Penguin Parade in my post “Visiting Phillip Island Penguin Parade.” If you would like more information about Phillip Island Nature Parks. Or if you would like more information about the particular tour I took “A Tour With A Difference.”
I can highly recommend both the tour that we took and the experience at the Penguin Parade. If you like this post, I would love to hear from you either in the comments below or via the contact form.