Published on 16th July 2021
by Kate Shanasy

Yes, there are penguins and parades at Victoria’s most popular island destination. But long-time visitors to Phillip Island also come for the pristine beaches, roiling waters and teeming wildlife. Or perhaps they’re revving for the Grand Prix circuit and fast-emerging dining scene or gearing up for the island’s newest chapter, Saltwater Springs. In partnership with Visit Victoria, here’s our guide on what to do, eat, drink and where to stay in Phillip Island.

Ninety minutes south of Melbourne lies Phillip Island, a 101-square-kilometre stretch of protected beaches, bushland, towns and wetland reserves at the southern end of Western Port Bay.

As you cross the bridge from San Remo and touch down on the island in Newhaven, the first thing you’ll notice is the lack of front fences – a rarity consistent with the town’s laidback surf culture and community spirit. It’s got a real small-town feel, with fierce support for local and independent business and produce. On weekends tourists follow suit, flocking to the local wineries, cafes, bars, shops and beaches.

The island claims it’s been fox-free for four years, which helps account for the common presence of the hefty Cape Barren goose. If it’s your first visit to the island, you’ll get a fun surprise when you spot its distinctive yellow beak and grey feathers rooting around town. The red-stockinged birds are unique to southern Australia – and they’re also where the Cheeky Goose Cafe in the main town of Cowes gets its name.

Exploring Phillip Island and its endless beaches is a no-brainer in summer. But the cooler months also provide the rustic pleasure of wintry bushwalks and rugged coastline strolls, pub meals and log fires at night. The Koala Conservation Reserve is open every day but Christmas, and with new geothermal hot springs on their way in 2022, a tranquil visit to The Cape Kitchen’s adjoining Saltwater Springs will be a must.

Start your adventures with a coffee at G’day Tiger (roasted by Seven Seeds) and jump aboard a wildlife cruise to take in Cape Woolamai’s gorgeous turquoise waters, pink granite coastlines and if you are luck, spot a passing whale. From there, stay in San Remo for the spectacle of a frenzied pelican feed put on by the fishermen. With such beautiful surroundings, you can take it slow at Phillip Island. Most activities on the island are just 15 minutes apart, so there’s really no reason why you can’t slam the go-karts, pause a little for the koalas, then float the skies in a helicopter all in the same afternoon.

Explore more things to do at and visitphillipisland.com.au

Welcome to Phillip Island

EAT

From brunch with an ocean view to the most succulent fried chicken in the country, Phillip Island’s food offering is broad.

DO

Most activities are just fifteen minutes apart by car, so you can adventure-pack your weekend, or simply space things out and take it slow.

Itinerary

A WEEKEND IN PHILLIP ISLAND

When you’re on Island time, choose your own pace and adventure. Cool weather calls for brisk morning walks, coastal explorations and leisurely lunches that roll into the afternoon with a cosy fire or spa bath.