Explore shipwrecks, come face-to-face with Highland cattle, and drink in panoramic views on these six Phillip Island walks.
Surrounded by a blustery, rugged coastline, and encompassing a patchwork of verdant, rolling farmland, where cattle and sheep graze, Phillip Island is a rambler’s delight. Whether you’re after a short scenic walk with the kids, or a lengthier hike with friends, these six walks should stand you in good stead.
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Churchill Island Walks
Connected to Phillip Island via a bridge, this small, little-known island is home to a working farm that’s among the oldest in Victoria, and a restored homestead and cottages that date back to the 1860s, all of which are open to the public and popular with families. The most famous local residents here are arguably the farm’s shaggy Highland cattle.
The isle is home to three different walks: the Churchill Island loop, which takes around two hours to complete; the easier North Point loop, which takes just one hour to complete; and the Wadjil’garook Wetland, which is really more of a brief stroll, but includes insights into Aboriginal culture, and offers an opportunity to see wetland birds.
Toast to a walk well done with a flat white at the island’s cafe, which has a rather tempting yet wholesome breakfast and brunch menu too, brimful of locally sourced produce. Bear in mind that the farm grounds are managed by not-for-profit Phillip Island Nature Parks, and ticketed (adults are priced from $13.50, and children aged between four and 15-years-old are priced from $6.75), but entrance to the walks alone is free.
Pyramid Rock to Berrys Beach
A meandering clifftop track that affords walkers beautiful coastal views, this walk from Pyramid Rock to Berrys Beach takes around two hours return, though you may want to factor in more time to savour the views from the lookout points, snap a photo or two for Instagram, and spot creatures of the deep… Between May and October migratory killer whales, southern right whales and humpback whales are known to cruise through these very waters, as they head from Antarctica towards Queensland’s warmer climes for calving.
Along the five-kilometre walk you’ll marvel at the black basalt columns of Pyramid Rock, trace the green and gold of the coastline’s scrubland and swathes of tussock grass, and finally, you’ll wind up at the sweeping, secluded Berrys Beach.
Swan Lake Walk
A short and mostly flat, kid-, pram- and wheelchair-friendly walk that skirts freshwater Swan Lake in the island’s west, this short trail is partly comprised of boardwalks and takes in two bird hides near the lake’s edge. Walkers will wander through bushland, past tea trees, banksia and native grasses, and may spot black swans, swamp harriers, cormorants, purple swamp hens and more on their journey. It’s a 1.3-kilometre walk that takes just 20 minutes from start to finish.
Scenic Estate Conservation Reserve Walks
This birdlife-rich 28-hectare site provides a habitat for six species of threatened birds, and also overlooks a World Heritage-listed Ramsar wetland. Stroll among endangered grasslands and vegetation, while soaking up the bay views that stretch to Churchill Island, Rhyll and beyond. In among the natural bushland setting you’ll also find two scenically situated picnic shelters, perfect for enjoying a lazy lunch al fresco – just don’t forget to pack provisions.
There are 1.5 kilometres of walking tracks to explore, so you can pace your walk accordingly, whether you’re in the mood for a brief outing or an extended ramble in the fresh air.
Cape Woolamai Walks
Venture up to the heady heights of Cape Woolamai, the highest point on Phillip Island, and gorge on panoramic views. Part of the Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve, which plays host to short-tailed shearwater (aka muttonbird) rookeries, you can choose your own adventure from the three walking tracks, all of which start from the reserve’s carpark. The Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk (follow the black markers) takes around 3.5 hours return; The Old Granite Quarry Walk (follow the blue markers) is six kilometres long and takes a total of three hours to complete; and the shorter Pinnacles Walk (follow the green markers) takes around two hours return. On both the Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk, and the Pinnacles Walk you’ll gaze down upon a cluster of spindly sea stacks that rise up out of the frothy surf, a local landmark known as The Pinnacles.
Kitty Miller Bay Walk
Combine a spot of rockpooling and shell collecting with a visit to the rusted remains of an old shipwreck on this one-hour-long walk. First you’ll amble down a wooden stairway that leads to the shores of snug little Kitty Miller Bay, then follow the curve of the beach to your left, before finally landing at the site of the SS Speke, which ran aground on Phillip Island back in 1906. Ensure your visit coincides with the low tide, otherwise access will be limited.