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Phillip Island
 
phillip islandIf you are in or around the city of Melbourne, you simply must check out nearby Phillip Island. The two hour drive here will take you through the city, along the banks of Westernport Bay to the mainland town of San Remo, where you cross the bridge to the island town of New Haven. Even while you are crossing the bridge you will begin to discover just why this island is so popular and why it attracts over three and a half million people every year. The island's quaint and established towns have every convenience a tourist could possibly ask for, and the resident population of 7000 people will make you feel right at home and show you the island's hidden treasures.

The stunning coastline here is equally matched with the lush inland serenity. The weather here is perfect with a mild, temperate climate, which means that it is perfect all year round for watersports of all descriptions. Boredom here will never be an option because there really is just so much to see and do.

If Phillip Island were to be renamed, the most appropriate name would have to be Nature Island. This truly is a haven for Australian wildlife of both the aquatic and land based varieties! The most popular of the attractions here would have to be Penguin Parade, which is a large colony of Little Penguins that have called Summerland Beach their home for many years now. In the evening, penguins return from their fishing escapades in the waters and waddle up the beach to their sandy burrows. Its an amazing and somewhat comical sight watching these cute birds march up the beach in large numbers. This is probably what has ideally put Phillip Island on the tourist map. A Nature Park has been built around the beach, and there is even a viewing platform where you can watch the parade without interfering in the penguin's natural habits. A marine centre, Nobbies, has been built in the park, which has fun and interactive displays on the ocean and the animals that live in it. This is perfect for the kids and will keep them entertained for hours.

The island is also home to a very large koala population, and a slow stroll through the woodland trees of the Oswin Roberts Reserve will make you aware of this. You will be able to experience many sightings of these laid back icons of Australia doing what they do best - relaxing! The towering gums of the Koala Conservation Centre also provide a safe home for the chilled out creatures, and at the visitor centre there is a closed viewing area and a tree top boardwalk.

If you like what you have seen so far, take a trip over to Seal Rocks at the south western tip of the island, where you will encounter some other interesting and animated wildlife. A colony of 16 000 fur seals call this place their home, establishing is as one of the largest colonies in Australia. Spend some time enjoying watching the seals dart through the water in the pursuit of fish, clumsily walk across the rocks or frolic with their young in the water. At the Nobbies marine centre you will be given many chances to interact with the seals via state of the art camera technology that allows you to zoom right up to them!

Penguins and seals are not the only attractions that make Phillip Island so unique and intriguing. The Phillip Island coastline isn't just reserved for seals and penguins however. Ideal swimming spots can be found in the calm, refreshing waters of Westernport Bay, a truly magnificent beach, if only just to look at. These are especially popular if you have young kids, but if you want waves and a bit more excitement then the southern, ocean facing beaches will be perfect for you. The surf here is globally recognised as being consistent and reliable, although you must be cautious of the strong rips and currents. Woolamai and Smiths beaches are two of the most popular surf beaches, and both are lifeguard patrolled during the summer, ensuring the safety of both you can your family.

If you are on a budget, don't stress because there are plenty of places to stay here that will accommodate your needs. If you would like the freedom and comfort of your own apartment, complete with all modern facilities and complimentary parking then look no further than Quest Phillip Island. Situated in the popular holiday town of Cowes, the apartments are just a short walk away from beaches, restaurants and shops, and all the major attractions of the island are within easy travelling distance. Just down the road you will find Quest Oceanic Apartments, which are owned by the same company and thus offer the same classy and modern features. They are the perfect base from which to explore the rest of the island!

Discovered over 200 years ago, Phillip Island boasts a rich culture and heritage. Its history is evident in many of the old buildings in the towns, but it is on Churchill Island where it is most striking. Easily accessible by a bridge from the mainland this tiny island of 57 hectares is an historic working farm complete with its original homestead dating back to 1872! While here, visitors can explore the ancient buildings on the farm, stroll amongst the orchard trees and the traditional gardens and watch rangers demonstrate traditional farming techniques. A day here will provide a fun and educational outing that will help you and the kids get a better understanding of our agricultural history.

There really is no island destination better for a family holiday then Philip Island. There is something here for all age groups and interests, and plenty of cheap accommodation to suit your needs. So what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your Phillip Island adventure now!

Christine Barton




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