Thursday, 4 May 2017

Phillip Island Nature Parks

Located only 90 minutes from Melbourne, The Phillip Island Nature Parks Australia manages five major attractions: the Penguin Parade; the Koala Conservation Centre; Churchill Island Heritage Farm; Wild Oceans EcoBoat Tours; and the Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre as well as other recreational areas, including beaches, wetlands and woodlands. They are a not-for-profit organisation. Revenue generated through the ecotourism activities is invested into vital conservation, research and education programs.

Phillip Island Nature Parks
From the bridge to get to the Penguin Parade (20 minutes), Churchill Island (10 minutes). Free car parking on site.

Price List and Buy tickets here: (for the attractions in Phillip Island Nature Parks)
You can also get bundle passes to other parks at a discount; Antartic Journey, Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island Heritage Farm, EcoBoat Adventure 
Phone:  + 61 3 5951 2800
Fax:  + 61 3 5956 8394

Penguin Parade

Each night at sunset you’ll be amazed by the world’s smallest penguins returning ashore to their homes in the sand dunes, their natural habitat after a day’s fishing. The (General Viewing) viewing stands offer great outlooks across the beach. Raised boardwalks follow the paths taken by the penguins from the beach to their burrows. You’ll see penguins waddling, interacting and generally revealing their individual personalities.

Penguin Parade duration is 50 minutes from the time the first penguin crosses the beach. There different type of viewing: General Viewing, Penguins Plus, Underground, Ranger-guided tours. No photography or filming is permitted, penguins have sensitive eyes and a bright, sudden light can disorientate a penguin.

Raised boardwalks (General Viewing)

General Viewing from the beach front viewing stands
Penguins at eye level from Underground Viewing, located beneath Penguins Plus. Penguins Plus/Underground in the foreground, General Viewing in the background.

There is a LIVE Burrow Cam to see what's happening in their home on their website.
Purchase tickets (price in 2017 for General Viewing):
Adult (16+): $25.70
Child (4-15): $12.80
Family (2A+2C): $64.20

Penguin Parade Add: 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands 3922
Penguin Parade is open one hour before the penguins arrival at sunset every night of the year. It is recommended for you to reach one hour before the penguins arrival.
Check Penguin arrival calendar.
The Penguin Parade Visitor Centre is open from 10am daily (2pm on Christmas Day). There are interactive displays.

Koala Conservation Centre

Add: 1810 Phillip Island Road, Phillip Island, Victoria 3923

Ticket Prices:
Adult (16 years+) - $12.80
Child (4-15 years) - $6.40
Family (2 adults and 2 children) - $32.00

The Koala Conservation Centre is open:
- 10am to 5pm daily (April to end of daylight savings)
- 10am to 5:30pm daily (daylight savings)
- 10am to 6pm (Boxing Day to end of summer school holidays)
- Opens 2pm on Christmas Day.

Face to face with the koala

Up-close koalas viewing in their natural habitat from the tree top boardwalk

The Koala Conservation Centre offers a range of family friendly activities to explore the native bush and see Australian wildlife. Stroll through this eucalypt woodland and come ‘face-to-face’ with koalas in their natural habitat. Wander the two tree top boardwalks for superb up-close koala viewing.
  •           Tree Top Koala Boardwalk: 800m loop – 20 minutes – easy
  •           Tree Top Woodland Boardwalk: 600m loop – 20 minutes – easy
Explore the six hectares of Australian bushland on the easily accessible trails. Lookout for wallabies, echidnas and colourful native birds. You can also uncover the amazing lives of koalas with the interactive displays in the new visitor centre and learn more about what community groups are doing to help local wildlife.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Add: 246 Samuel Amess Drive, Churchill Island, Newhaven 3925
Ticket Prices:
Adult (16 years+) - $12.80
Child (4-15 years) - $6.40
Family (2 adults and 2 children) - $32.00

Open 10am to 5pm daily. Opens 2pm on Christmas Day.
Daily farming activities:
1.00-1.45pm         Wagon rides (school and public holidays only)
2.10pm                 Cow milking
2.30pm                 Sheep shearing
2.45pm                 Whip cracking
3.05pm                 Working dogs
3.20pm                 Sheep shearing
• Meet the Clydesdale horses, Highland cattle, sheep and baby animals.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm offers a range of daily farming activities and walks around the island close to internationally recognised wetlands. It is a smaller island located just off the main island, accessible via a bridge. Explore the island on the numerous walking and cycling trails:
  • Churchill Island loop: 4.5kms – 2 hours – moderate
  • North Point loop: 2kms – 1hour – easy
  • Wadjil’garook Wetland: 1km inside the entrance. Follow the paths to learn about Indigenous culture and wetland birds. 
Sheep shearing demo, The room of a nineteenth century homestead, whip cracking and blacksmith demonstration

Wild Ocean EcoBoat Tours
Add: 11/13 The Esplanade, Cowes 3922

EcoBoat Adventure Tours operate daily throughout the year. Cape Explorer tour is seasonal from 6 May to 30 September (Every Saturday plus daily during School Holidays) at 3.15pm.
Please check the departure schedule for seasonal location and time details (subject to tide and weather conditions)
Minimum age: 4 years

EcoBoat Adventure: Enjoy an up close encounter with one of Australia’s largest colonies of fur seals in their natural environment on a high speed 90 minute boat ride along Phillip Island’s coastline. It will pull in to a protected inlet to see the seals. Underwater cameras aboard the boat reward guests with a unique glimpse into the playful antics occurring beneath the waves. Also you get to see the Nobbies sea-cave or and stop at the Cat Bay National Surfing Reserve, before your experienced captain puts the EcoBoat through its paces with a bit of wave-running.
Adult (16+): $85.00

EcoBoat Adventure - big colony of seals sun bathing at Seal Rocks

Cape Explorer Tour: Explore the island’s spectacular eastern coastline on this fast and fun 1 hour tour. Departing from the fishing village of Rhyll, the EcoBoat makes its way past Churchill Island and its Marine National Park. Travel underneath the bridge through ‘The Narrows’, with San Remo on one side and Newhaven on the other. Marvel at the aqua blue of the waters and then view the impressive 110 metre high ancient granite cliffs of Cape Woolamai rise up before you. Keep your eyes open for the abundant marine life regularly seen in these waters.
Adult (16+): $55.00
Cape Explorer Tour

Nobbies Centre (Home of the Antarctic Journey)

Add: 1320 Ventnor Road, Summerlands Victoria, 3922

Opening Times:
Summer: 10am – approx. 8pm
Autumn: 10am – approx. 5pm
Winter: 10am – approx. 4pm
Spring: 10am – approx. 6pm
The Nobbies area is closed one hour before sunset each day to protect the native wildlife.
Admission: There is free entry to the boardwalks, cafe and gift shop, as well as the interpretive display on penguin conservation on Phillip Island at the entrance to the Antarctic Journey paid attraction.

This area offers spectacular coastal and rock formations viewing from the boardwalks and lookout points set amongst natural sea bird gardens (flowering displays in spring, might spot some little penguins). 1.5km offshore from The Nobbies are Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest Australian Fur Seal colony. See the awesome blowhole, a spectacular sea cave that thunders during big southern swells.

The blowhole

Boardwalk at the Nobbies

Antarctic Journey:
The Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies closes approximately 2 hours before sunset each day, and the Nobbies Centre itself closes approximately 1 hour before sunset each day to protect the native wildlife.  Opening hours.
Ticket Price and booking:
  •     Adult (16 years+) - $18.00
  •     Child (4-15 years) - $9.00
  •     Family (2 adults and 2 children) - $45.00
Take a virtual journey into the wonderful world of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica and engage with the many interactive and immersive experiences in this exhibition. ‘The Lab’ is jam packed with fun-filled hands on activities designed to entertain and educate. At Level 1 you can learn about the connection between the wildlife and geology of Phillip Island, the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic.

Descending the steps into Level 2, you will be transported to the ice continent with the sounds of frosty winds filling the room, sounds are coming from the Antarctic 'Chill Zone' where you ‘Feel the freeze’ and check out your thermal image and comparing it to an Emperor penguin. Check out the Virtual Cafe or try and sink a bowling ball!

The final level (Level 3), you will be put right in the heart of the action. All thanks to the cutting-edge ‘augmented reality’ technology, you will be able to stand on an ice floe and feel like you can reach out to pat a penguin, stroke a seal or marvel at a whale which all appear on the screen with you. You will be surrounded by huge screens displaying life-sized filmed scenes of Antarctica. Don't miss it.
Antarctic 'Chill Zone' where you ‘Feel the freeze’ and check out your thermal image, comparing it to an Emperor penguin. Photo from

Level 3 Augmented reality technology

Phillip Island Map:

Traveling from Melbourne
  • Car – Travelling to Phillip Island from Melbourne via car takes less than two hours. Take the M1 to the Cranbourne exit and turn onto the M420. Follow that until the A420, through Grantville and Bass, then turn onto B420 (Phillip Island Road) to San Remo and across the bridge to the island.
  • Bus – V-line operates a bus to Phillip Island’s main town, Cowes, from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne city.
  • Train & Ferry – Take the V-Line train to Stony Point, and connect from there to the passenger ferry to Cowes.
Public transport is limited on Phillip Island. It is recommended that you have your own vehicle or join a tour. By taxi: Contact Phillip Island Taxis on 03 5952 2200 to arrange transfers. E-bike can be hired at

From Melbourne to Phillip Island:

Jul 2014
Immediately after the Koala Conservation Centre entry is a room with interactive displays. While the robotic koala display was fascinating, seeing koalas in the flesh was much more exciting. Boardwalk trails allow visitors to view koalas in their own carefully managed, but more or less natural habitat. Most of the koalas were curled up on high branches, but some were lower down so we could get a better look at them.

Lunch at the Churchill Island Café was excellent. You can get extremely close to the animals at the Churchill Island Heritage Farm. Geese, roosters and a peacock roam the area, and they do not seem to be shy of people at all. Larger animals livestock stay firmly on their pens. Sheep shearing was a popular demonstration- it seemed each and every guest at the farm crammed into the shed to watch. Children were invited to sit at the front, but unfortunately the sea of adults standing and craning their necks made it difficult to see much. I suggest arriving at the shed a little earlier than the demonstration is scheduled to begin in order to get a decent spot. Following the sheep demonstration was a whip cracking demonstration. While most activities on the farm were for children, whip cracking was more for the adults, as grown-up onlookers were invited to try to crack the whip.

The Nobbies Centre is worth a visit before sunset. The boardwalks were the highlight of our trip. On one side are breathtaking ocean views, on the other, you can see penguins huddled inside their artificial burrows on the hillside. It seems to be a popular sight for tourists, but it is not too crowded as the boardwalks are so extensive. It is free to visit the Nobbies Centre, but bring some cash if you would like to operate the binoculars on the boardwalks to get a better view of the shore and its marine life.

Just a few minutes away from the Nobbie Centre was The Penguin Parade which was incredibly popular, with scores of tourists turning out to see the penguins. Once the penguins ascended from the beach, they scurried to their burrows which could be seen from the network of boardwalks. There was more than enough space to accommodate the sizeable turnout so it was not crowded at all.
You will have to take my word for it that we were mere metres from the adorable penguins. The penguins seemed to be endless. Most scurried past the boardwalks to unseen burrows, but occasionally a penguin would pause for a few minutes. I highly recommend the experience. There is also a Penguin Parade café, serving dinner before the parade.
Feb 2017
Phillip Island, located on the southern tip of Victoria in Australia has become known as the gateway to the Antarctic. When you walk into Level One of this Antarctic Journey you will immediately begin to learn about the connection between the wildlife and geology of Phillip Island, the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic.
Descending the steps into Level Two, is The Lab where you will be transported to the ice continent with the sounds of frosty winds filling the room. Luckily no winter jackets are required, the windy sounds are just coming from the Antarctic 'Chill Zone'. A place where you can compare your own thermal image with an Emperor Penguin. Spoiler alert: Us humans are not well suited to cold conditions. The yellow and red areas indicate where I was losing body heat after spending only 15 seconds in the 'Chill Zone'.
Level Three of the Antarctic Journey at Phillip Island is one that will have you completely immersed in a multimedia experience. You will be surrounded by huge screens displaying life-sized filmed scenes of Antarctica. The beauty, the serenity and the harsh reality of life on the ice.
The highlight of this Antarctic Journey is the augmented reality area. Here we discovered how fun it was to pat penguins and throw our son into the icy waters with orca whales!

Hire the Eco/ Electric Bike at


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