1. You can watch Penguins
The nightly parade of penguins on Phillip Island attracts half a million tourists annually. Up to 3,800 spectators sit in an amphitheater to watch the penguins waddle from the sea just after sunset to retire to their land-based nests for the night. If you linger around the boardwalks you will see them up close as they search for their burrows and mates. There are also tours available through the day. The little fellows (Eudyptula minor) are the worlds smallest penguin species, and arguably the cutest! Map it.
2. You can visit seals
The Nobbies Centre (free) is on a headland with magnificent views of the coast, and across to Seal Rocks where 6000 Australian fur seals sun themselves. The boardwalks also take you through gardens and sea bird habitat. In spring and early summer, silver gulls nest here. Be careful not to litter. Seals often mistake plastic as food and it kills them. Seal watching cruises out to Seal Rocks will get you a closer look at these playful and inquisitive creatures. Map it.
3. You can get close to koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre
This is an ethical way to see Phillip Island’s resident koalas. Follow the tree-top boardwalks through this eucalypt woodland and come ‘face-to-face’ with koalas in their natural habitat. You might even spot a baby in its mother’s pouch. This eco-tourism attraction has been essential in saving Phillip Island’s koala population and their natural bush habitat. Map it.
4. You can watch all kinds of birds
Over summer (between late September and late April), Head to Cape Woolamai’s main car park to watch over a million short-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds) return to their colony en masse at sunset. These migratory birds fly 8,000 kilometres annually from Alaska, Japan and Siberia to Phillip Island. (free) Map it.
Follow the boardwalks through the Rhyll Inlet and wetlands and you’ll see all kinds of wading birds – royal spoonbills, straw-necked ibis, swans, little pied cormorants and the rare hooded plover all visit annually to feed and breed. The Oswin Roberts Walking Track has great bird-watching areas. Map them. (free)
5. You can race on the Phillip Island Circuit (Grand Prix Track)
Come to watch a race or, when there are no events on, hire a Go Kart and race on the track yourself. For $35 you’ll get about ten laps in and leave the track with a buzzing smile. A tour of the circuit will get you into the VIP section and you can even stand on the winners podium! Map it.
6. Interact with the exhibits at the National Vietnam Veteran Museum
Situated in a large hanger near the aerodrome, this is worth a visit. There is a lot to look at and the exhibits are high quality, interactive, and engaging. There is a sound and light show, restored aircraft, tanks and weapons. It’s highly rated on Trip Advisor. Map it. Entry $15 (as of August 2015).
7. Take a Hike
Phillip island is riddled with walking tracks that take you through some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes rich with wildlife. From mangroves to sweeping beaches, other-worldy rock formations to heathlands and paperbark forests, Phillip Island is a walkers paradise. A few suggestions.