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The Weekender: Phillip Island, Victoria

Pyramid Rock. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

Welcome to Victoria’s very own escape from reality, Phillip Island.

Less than a two hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD, Phillip Island is a breathtaking coastal escape with plenty to offer.

Whether you like to eat and drink, explore and adventure or relax in beautiful surroundings, this popular Victorian spot has it all. From shopping to wildlife spotting, surfing and bushwalking, a weekend away to Phillip Island promises to be jam-packed with wholesome fun and frivolity.

When can you see the penguins at Phillip Island?

According to the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation, Phillip Island is home to approximately 32,000 little penguin adults.

The penguins arrive at sunset every day throughout the year. Phillip Island Nature Parks suggests to arrive an hour before the penguins arrive. Or, you can view their penguin arrival calendar here to check what time is best for your visit.

What to eat and drink on Phillip Island, Victoria

Mad Cowes Cafe

Located in the centre of Cowes, this popular local cafe is the perfect place to start your day with breakfast or lunch. Enjoy incredible coastal views while indulging in delicious food and drink. There’s an expansive menu with plenty of choices, but we can’t look past our favourites, the Classic Break ($21.50) and the Kuro Prawns ($21).

Cowes. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

Cowes. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.


Mad Cowes Cafe | 3/4 17 The Esplanade, Cowes


Phillip Island Winery

For amazing food and delicious wine from the local Gippsland region, the Phillip Island Winery is a must-visit. Found on a expansive property with a backdrop of lined vineyards less than 10 minutes from Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Phillip Island Winery is perfect for tastings or a sit-down wine and dine experience. Our go-to menu selection – which never disappoints – is the Charcuterie Plate ($39). There’s also an incredible florist on-site offering stunning flower arrangements, as well as a cute boutique perfect for purchasing a gift or two.

Vineyards at Phillip Island. Photographed by Destination Phillip Island. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

Vineyards at Phillip Island. Photographed by Destination Phillip Island. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.


Phillip Island Winery | 414 Berrys Beach Rd, Ventnor


Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant & Bar

Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant & Bar has a large range of specially brewed craft beers, uniquely created to stand out from a traditional lager. Enjoy one of these hand-crafted ales at the Rusty Water Brewery alongside your pick of the delicious seasonal menu, which offers everything from light lunches to fine dining. If you’re struggling to choose, we recommend the Warm Duck Salad ($22) or the Pan-Roasted Barramundi Fillet ($33). Due to COVID-19, Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant & Bar will be offering dine in options again from Thursday 04 June.

Phillip Island Brewing Company. Image supplied via Destination Phillip Island.

Phillip Island Brewing Company. Image supplied via Destination Phillip Island.


Rusty Water Brewery | 1821 Phillip Island Rd, Cowes


What to do on Phillip Island, Victoria

Smiths Beach Island Surf School

If you’ve always wanted to try surfing, then Phillip Island is a great place to give it a go. Smiths Beach is one of the most beginner-friendly beaches in Victoria, and the Smiths Beach Island Surf School is one of the most experienced surf schools in the country. With group, private and corporate rates available, Island Surf School is the perfect spot to get on a board. Whether it’s for the first time in a while or for the first time ever, you’re guaranteed to have fun!

Island Surf School. Image supplied via Destination Phillip Island.

Island Surf School. Image supplied via Destination Phillip Island.


Island Surf School | 225 Smiths Beach Rd, Smiths Beach


Penguin Parade

It wouldn’t be a trip to Phillip Island without visiting the famous Penguin Parade. Each night, at sunset, the world’s smallest penguins return to shore after a day of fishing. Watch from viewing stands and boardwalks as the breed of little penguins waddle back to their homes in the sand dunes. It’s an amazing experience to witness and (unsurprisingly) is one of Australia’s most popular attractions. Please note, due to COVID-19, Penguin Parade will be opening on Friday 05 June. Numbers are strictly limited and all visitors will need an online ticket to gain entry.

Phillip Island Nature Park. Image supplied via Phillip Island Nature Park.

Phillip Island Nature Park. Image supplied via Phillip Island Nature Park.


Penguin Parade | 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands


The Nobbies

Experience incredible coastal views and spot seals in their natural habitat with a visit to The Nobbies, home to Australia’s largest Australian fur seal colony. Stroll the boardwalk and enjoy the spectacular ocean views, natural sea bird gardens and rugged coastline. The Nobbies also offer great educational opportunities, with plenty of informative signage and interactive activities to do inside The Nobbies Visitor Centre. Please note, due to COVID-19, The Nobbies Visitor Centre is currently closed. Please check website for more information.

Nobbies at Phillip Island. Photographed by Emily Fitzgerald. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

Nobbies at Phillip Island. Photographed by Emily Fitzgerald. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.


The Nobbies | 1320 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands, VIC 3922


Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

For a little bit of fun and a tasty treat, the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is a great stop to add to your weekend itinerary. Just think of it as Victoria’s very own Willy Wonka chocolate factory. There are lots of free samples to try as you make your way through the factory, as well as interactive machines and the opportunity to create your own chocolate. Please note, due to COVID-19, Phillip Island Chocolate Factory has temporarily suspended factory tours. Hot food and drinks are available for takeaway as well as chocolate purchases. Please check website for more information.

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.


Phillip Island Chocolate Factory | 930 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven


Churchill Island

Just under a 30-minute drive east of Phillip Island, Churchill Island is a historic working farm and a great place to stroll around as you take in the sights it has to offer. There are world-class wetlands, ancient moonah trees, heritage gardens, historic buildings and magnificent views of Phillip Island and Western Port to be enjoyed. An increasingly popular wedding venue, Churchill Island is an idyllic spot to spend an afternoon and enjoy lunch alongside a glass of wine.

Churchill Island. Photographed by Ross Holmberg. Image supplied via Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Churchill Island. Photographed by Ross Holmberg. Image supplied via Phillip Island Nature Parks.


Churchill Island


Where to swim on Phillip Island, Victoria

YCW Beach

YCW Beach is similar to the much busier Smith’s Beach, however, is our favourite of the two, thanks to its seclusion. The beach wraps around a beautiful bay, making it a great spot for swimming and for beginner surfers. Apart from the long 400-metre stretch of sand perfect for throwing a frisbee around, there’s also plenty of rock pools to explore.

YCW Beach. Photographed by David Hannah. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.

YCW Beach. Photographed by David Hannah. Image supplied via Visit Victoria.


Woolamai Beach

There’s a lot of fun things to do at Woolamai Beach. If you’re a confident swimmer or surfer, then the water offers exhilarating and challenging waves. Woolamai Beach has the island’s only surf lifesaving club that was founded in 1959. Plus for some adrenaline activities for children and adults alike, there are also walls of rolling sand dunes that are perfect for racing down. You’d be mad not to give it a go and have a laugh while doing so.

Cape Woolamai. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image Supplied via Visit Victoria.

Cape Woolamai. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image Supplied via Visit Victoria.

Looking to embrace the cold a bit more? Why not check out one of these perfect places to enjoy snow in Victoria this winter? Or if you’re looking for ways to help the bushfire affected towns in Victoria, we’ve got the ultimate road trip just for you!

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