From wine tasting to surfing, country walks and penguin spotting, this little corner of Gippsland has a lot to offer.
A seaside hotspot, Phillip Island has long been popular with holidaymaking families and international tourists, but there’s plenty more to this Bass Coast isle than just sun, sand, ice cream and penguins. Read on for our top seven things to do on Phillip Island.
Don’t miss: Where to eat, stay & play on Phillip Island
Wine tasting (and beer)
Oenophiles rejoice! This little pocket of Gippsland is home to two cool-climate wineries with cellar doors.
Going strong since 1993, Phillip Island Winery isn’t just some tourist trap: it produces a range of popular reds and whites (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir) and is also host to a gorgeous little boutique that dispenses fresh local produce as well as flowers, sourdough, cookbooks, candles and wine. You can dine here too.
Known for its pinot noir and shiraz, but with plenty of whites and sparkling on offer too, Purple Hen Wines is in a scenic spot. Take your time on a tasting at one of the tables inside, admiring the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows, or grab a glass (or bottle) of your favourite drop to enjoy one of the picnic tables outside on the grass.
Beer lovers aren’t left out of the equation either. In the main town of Cowes lies independent, sustainable and family-run taphouse Ocean Reach Brewing. Come for a tasting paddle and stay for the burgers.
The Penguin Parade
Perhaps Phillip Island’s most iconic and enduring attraction, the Penguin Parade is the home of the largest Little Penguin colony in the world, drawing in kids, animal lovers and tourists alike. Watch legions of the flightless birds waddle out of the surf and onto the shore before heading up to their burrows, arriving like clockwork at sunset every night. Tiered seating overlooks the picturesque Summerlands Beach, and there’s an underground viewing area too. Arrive early and exploit the interactive activities, and wealth of information supplied at the attraction’s visitors’ centre.
There’s a multitude of Phillip Island walks to enjoy on this Bass Coast isle, many exploiting the rugged coastline views. Venture up to Cape Woolamai, the highest point on the island, from where you can gorge on 360-degree views of San Remo, Kilcunda and beyond. Take the Kitty Miller Bay Walk that leads to the rusted remains of a shipwreck. Waltz around Churchill Island, and you’ll likely encounter some highland cattle. Or hit one of the Conservation Hill and Rhyll Inlet Walks, home to the southernmost mangroves in the world.
Home to Victoria’s first National Surfing Reserve, Phillip Island beaches are a bit of a surfer’s paradise. A number of different surf schools operate out of family-friendly Smiths Beach, with its moderate and consistent swells, including Girls on Board, Island Surfboards and Archy Surf. But the beach is also home to ‘Express Point’, a barrelling reef break known in some surfing circles as the island’s premier wave. More experienced surfers might want to make for the world-class beach breaks of Woolamai, or Cat Bay’s left- and right-hand reef breaks.
Did you know Phillip Island is home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony? Pay a visit to this community of furry fellas with eco-friendly local operator Wildlife Coast Cruises. The company’s two-hour trip will take you within metres of the seals, which regularly approach the boat for a closer look, and on average, daytrippers will see more than 5,000 up-close, not to mention seabirds and pods of dolphins, if you’re lucky.
If you’re in the market for something a touch more high octane, then give Ocean Adventures a call. You’ll speed along the island’s coastline on either a jet boat or thundercat, exploring the granite cliffs and caves of Cape Woolamai along the way.
From jetties and beaches to boat charters, there are plenty of opportunities to cast a line of this little isle, with local anglers routinely catching flathead, snapper, whiting, garfish, salmon, shark and squid. Try Reel Obsession, T-Cat Fishing Charters, or The Island Charter Boat for a day out on the water. And if you don’t have much success then don’t fret: you can pick up super fresh fish from the professionals at San Remo Fisherman’s Cooperative anyway.
Phillip Island is known for hosting the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, and the World Superbike Championship too, but that doesn’t mean petrolheads have to time their visit to coincide with the MotoGP. Rock up at any time of year and you can still take a guided circuit tour, which gives you access to race control, the media centre and the winner’s podium. Or stroll through the History of Motorsport Display. Or buckle up and race around Australia’s largest four-lane GP slot car track, at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre, which is home to a 760-metre scale replica of the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, overlooking the Bass Strait.