The Island Ideal For A Melbourne Weekend Break
After the cold months of winter, Phillip Island comes to life as a summer destination for Melbourne city folk. It’s full of wildlife, nature parks and beaches, and just a two-hour drive from Melbourne CBD to boot. And for even more of an adventure, hop on a passenger ferry from the Mornington Peninsula to get here.
Just 23 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, the island is a small and peaceful spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. While it offers great camping options, take your trip up a notch and experience the island in style. Here’s how to make the most of a Phillip Island weekend getaway.
Where to play
Phillip Island is known for its swim beaches, nature parks and surfing. For a peaceful walk, visit The Nobbies. It’s a long stretch of coastal boardwalk with incredible views of the surrounding ocean. Just offshore from The Nobbies is Australia’s largest Fur Seal colony. You can spot them by looking through the viewing binoculars or, for even more of an up-closer experience, take a boat ride to Seal Rocks with Wildlife Coast Cruises.
Of course, don’t miss the chance to watch Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade. Little penguins waddle their way onto Summerland beach every night during sunset. They are the smallest species of penguin and the only penguin that lives permanently in Australia. Tickets are required for general viewing, so book in advance as this is a popular Phillip Island activity.
When you’re not looking for seals or gushing over penguins, learn to surf at one of the island’s many beaches. Phillip Island was declared Victoria’s first National Surfing Reserve. Beaches such as Smiths Beach, Cape Woolamai, Summerland, and Cat Bay offer excellent surf for beginners and experts. Cape Woolamai, in particular, is known for having one of the best beach breaks in the country.
If it happens to be a day with no waves, there are four different coastal walking tracks that loop around Cape Woolamai and plenty of space on the beach for a picnic.
Don’t forget to stop by Phillip Island Circuit — it hosts major sporting events such as V8 Supercars and Moto GP throughout the year. Catch a race or take a guided tour of the circuit, which includes access to the control tower, pit roof, and media centre. For a little adrenaline, hop in a racecar with a professional driver for three high-speed Hot Laps for an experience you’ll never forget. Phillip Island Winery is conveniently located next to the track to help you decompress with a glass of local wine.
Where to eat
When hunger strikes, there are plenty of places to grab a feed on Phillip Island. Start your day with a walk on the Esplanade and grab a nutritious brekky at Mad Cowes. It’s a charming spot in the main part of town that serves a mean cup of coffee. Order the vanilla panna cotta served with fruit salad and muesli for a sweet treat, or dig into Mad Cowes’ hash for a savoury meal of mushrooms and potato croquette topped with a fried egg.
After a bit of daytime exploring, refuel at The Cape Kitchen for lunch. The oceanfront setting has sweeping views of Cape Woolamai and the Bass Strait. The food is seasonal and locally sourced, so menu items may change depending on availability. Fingers crossed the Mornington black mussels and marinated baby squid are on the menu. Both are shining examples of Australia’s spectacular seafood.
When it’s time for that well-deserved, late afternoon bevvy, march into Rusty Water Brewery. Here you’ll find a range of locally brewed beers on tap. If it happens to be Friday night — you’re in luck. Rusty Water Brewery hosts live music in its cosy setting. Stay here for a reliable pub feed.
Chocolate lovers shouldn’t go past Phillip Island Chocolate Factory where you can stock up on hand-made Belgian chocolate or grab a treat at its cafe.
Where to stay
After a big day of exploring, check-in to Silverwater Resort. It’s surrounded by golf courses and beaches. Choose from fully self-contained one, two or three-bedroom apartments. Each room is styled for comfort, complete with a balcony that overlooks the green parklands or the teal blue water. Don’t miss happy hour at its on-site bar, Watermark Restaurant.
An Airbnb or vacation rental on Phillip Island might also be the way to go if you’re looking for a little extra living space, plus other amenities, such as a full kitchen, parking, laundry or private pool. Be sure to book in advance as the island tends to get busy in peak summer season.
A weekend on Phillip Island can be as relaxing or adventurous as you want it to be. It’s an excellent weekend escape to help you recharge and soak in some of Australia’s most stunning scenery.
(Lead image: Phillip Island Nature Parks / supplied)
Published 26 September, 2019