It’s a well-known fact that Melbourne, Australia is one of the world’s ultimate foodie destinations. But not many people know that there’s actually so much more beyond Melbourne’s phenomenal cafe scene.
Just a two-hour drive away from the CBD is Phillip Island, a highly popular day-trip destination southeast of Melbourne.
We took an entire day off of our time in Melbourne, and we drove there to explore the island. So here’re 7 things to see, do and eat on Phillip Island, if cafe-hopping isn’t your thing!
1. St Kilda Beach (8.30am)
We started our day bright and early at St Kilda where we were due to collect our rental car. And of course, since we were at St Kilda, we had to check out Melbourne’s most famous beach, St Kilda Beach.
The beach is just a stone’s throw away from the nearest tram station. That said, there’re several tram services which run from the CBD to St Kilda, so you’re well-covered.
The beach was pretty peaceful since it was only 8.30am. Most people we encountered were either on their morning runs or walking their dogs. So we availed ourselves of the quiet opportunity to take a relaxing stroll along the 700-metre beach.
If your schedule allows, head out to St Kilda Pier and visit the historic St Kilda Pavilion too. The Edwardian building has been around for over 100 years since 1904 and is definitely worth a visit. History geeks, I’m looking at you.
St Kilda Beach: St Kilda Beach, VIC 3182, Australia
2. Brighton Beach (10am)
After we picked up our ride from JUCY in St Kilda, we took a quick 10-minute drive to Brighton Beach.
Yes, this is where the world-renowned multi-coloured bathing boxes you often see on your Instagram feed are at.
Expect to run into mini crowds as, by this time, they’d have already started settling in. We were greeted by several tour buses in the carpark when we arrived.
Nevertheless, make sure you find your favourite bathing box and take as many photos as you can. There’re a total of 82 bathing boxes, so believe me when I say that choosing your favourites won’t be easy!
Also, catch as much of the ocean breeze while you’re here. The next stop is approximately a 90-minute drive away.
Brighton Beach: Victoria Street, Brighton VIC 3186, Australia
3. San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op (12noon)
Our bellies were growling by this time after a long drive. So we made a timely stopover at San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op for a hearty lunch.
The town of San Remo sits at the end of the bridge connecting Phillip Island to the mainland. As such, this was our final stop before we crossed the bridge over to Phillip Island.
That said, if you love yourself some good ol’ fish and chips, you’re in luck. San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op serves up some of the best fish and chips in the area.
Since it was my first meal of the day, I went big and decided on the Single Pack (AUD$14.50).
The star of the show was undoubtedly the deep-fried gummy shark fillet. It boasted a gorgeous golden-brown crust, a sign of perfect deep-frying.
Oh, and if you’re in time, do participate in the Pelican Feeding too. The San Remo fishermen feed the pelicans at the San Remo Pier daily at 12noon, so don’t miss it!
4. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory (1pm)
We drove across the bridge over to Phillip Island and made our first stop at Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. After all, what better way to conclude such a hearty meal than with some sweet treats?
The museum section, Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate, lets visitors see and learn how they make their chocolates in-house. We didn’t get to go on a tour but psst, we heard there’s a giant chocolate waterfall in it. It’s actually the world’s largest chocolate waterfall!
Nonetheless, we still managed to grab a cup of their signature Real Hot Chocolate (AUD$6) at the cafe.
The rich, velvety and chocolatey drink was so addictive that we made a beeline to the retail shop afterwards. There was no way we were going to leave without some chocolate souvenirs!
5. Churchill Island Heritage Farm (1.45pm)
Up north of Phillip Island is Churchill Island Heritage Farm, where you can expect to indulge in rustic country vibes.
The historic working farm has been in operation since the 1850s, so you can catch a glimpse of traditional farming practices here.
While on the way to the main entrance, we saw many sheep and cows grazing freely in the fields.
Laugh at me all you want, but I was extremely fascinated by these animals. For a few minutes, I was constantly pointing and gasping in awe like a child as I spotted them.
That said, there’re many more animals to see upon entering the farm. Think Clydesdale horses, Highland cattle, sheep, chickens, as well as wallabies!
But there’s much more to the farm than just the animals. Visitors can participate in several activities which take place throughout the day.
If you’d like a short but picturesque tour of the coastal area, hop on their tractor-pulled wagon. These weather-dependent scenic rides take place daily from 1pm – 1.45pm.
Go on and milk your first cow too if you haven’t done so already. The cow-milking session takes place daily at 2.10pm.
If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, definitely have a go at whip-cracking, which starts at 2.45pm. Just a word of advice, though, it’s not easy!
At 3.20pm, the farm’s sheepshearers will demonstrate how they harvest wool for your wool apparels. It was more painless than I thought, to be honest.
6. Koala Reserve (4pm)
A trip to the land down under can’t possibly be complete without seeing some koalas, right? Just a 15-minute drive away from Churchill Island is Phillip Island’s very own Koala Reserve.
Here, you can get up close to and observe the koalas in their natural habitat, the Australian bushland.
There were two tree-top boardwalks to explore: one 800-metre loop and the other, a 600-metre loop.
Along these boardwalks, you will have exceptional views and exclusive photo opportunities with the koalas. Not only that, but if you’re lucky, you might even get to spot some adorable wallabies and native birds!
Seeing the koalas here definitely felt different from observing them in a zoo.
I reckon it’s because the koalas here in the reserve are living as they would in the wild. The six hectares of natural Australian bushland here gives them ample space to have a normal life.
That said, it was also here where I learnt that koalas actually sound like babies crying…
Koala Reserve: 1810 Phillip Island Road, Phillip Island VIC 3923, Australia | Tel: +61 3 5951 2800 | Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (First Sun in Apr – First Sat in Oct), 10am – 5.30pm (1 Feb – First Sat in Apr & First Sun in Oct – 24 Dec), 2pm – 5.30pm (25 Dec), 10am – 6pm (26 Dec – 31 Jan) | Facebook | Instagram | Website
7. Penguin Parade (5.15pm)
The highlight of our day trip to Phillip Island was undoubtedly the Penguin Parade in the evening.
This world-famous activity takes place every night of the year during sunset. It is when the little penguins return home to what is one of Australia’s largest penguin colonies.
There’re several viewing options to choose from (General Viewing, Penguins Plus and Underground). The price for each tier increases as the view gets more exclusive.
I personally felt that investing in a Penguins Plus ticket was worthwhile. I didn’t have to strain my neck and compete with 300 other bobbing heads for a glimpse of the penguins.
That said, doors to the viewing platforms open an hour before the stipulated penguin arrival time. So if you have spare time and want a good spot, heading down early would be a wise choice.
However, do note that as the seasons change, the penguins will arrive at different timings throughout the year. We were there during the winter season, hence the penguins showed up slightly earlier than usual at around 6pm.
As a precaution, check their penguin arrival time calendar in advance so that you can plan your trip better.
Oh, make sure you don’t leave without visiting their gift shop too. They have a ton of penguin souvenirs there, so prepare your wallets!
With that, we hit the road once again for a two-hour drive back to Melbourne city.
I’d say we managed to check off plenty of places within a single day. Of course, however, there were still much on Phillip Island which we didn’t get to see or do. Woolamai Beach, The Nobbies Centre and EcoBoat Adventure are just some of them.
I’m sure you can definitely use a quick getaway from time to time, so I’ll catch y’all down under!