Aleney de Winter, her partner and young son take an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne to explore the amazing wildlife, beautiful beaches, great food and family fun on tap on Phillip Island.
Victoria's Phillip Island is famed for its cutest inhabitant - the Little Penguin. The world's smallest penguin, there are more than 20,000 on the island and nearly every evening thousands of people flock to watch them parade from sea to dunes as the sun sets.
There are a number of spots where you can see the penguins, from the tiered seating and elevated boardwalks to the more exclusive viewing platform that offers a closer vantage point of penguin arrivals. If you're after a more intimate wildlife experience, the Ultimate Penguin Experience is a fully-accredited eco-tour that takes visitors, equipped with night vision technology, to a secluded beach to view the penguins.
We enjoyed the spectacle from the penguin skybox - an exclusive elevated tower with sweeping views of the beach and a ranger on hand to answer all our questions. From the skybox we also helped with the nightly penguin count, to assist in ongoing research.
Our son - a fan of the movie Happy Feet and its singing and dancing penguins - had a great time with these little creatures (although he was a bit miffed that they weren't singing and dancing along with him!).
Luckily the award-winning Penguin Parade Visitor Centre enhances the experience with an audiovisual display, simulated underwater environment and plenty of interactive games for the kids (and their penguin-loving parents).
Purchase a Three Parks Pass for admission into the Penguin Parade, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and The Koala Conservation Centre at one discounted rate. Phillip Island Nature Parks run all three attractions (not for profit) with a commitment to protecting the island's wild inhabitants
Nearby Churchill Island is an historic working farm, listed by the National trust. A stroll through the cottage gardens and heritage farm offered us a fascinating glimpse at the lives of the early settlers in the region and our little one adored meeting the farm animals in the hands-on animal nursery.
The island itself boasts world class wetlands and an abundance of native birds. After a coastland walk offering spectacular views of Phillip Island and Western Port Bay, the Churchill Island cafe proved an idyllic venue for lunch with magnificent views over the farm and bay.
If you're in town on the fourth Saturday of the month, don't miss the excellent Churchill Island Farmers Market!
Rhyll Fishing Park is another of Phillip Island's great family friendly attractions. Here you can enjoy trout fishing in a relaxed and safe environment for the kids and the fishing is easy! We sat outside by the lake for a spot of leisurely fishing before heading indoors to try our luck at indoor fishing in the beautiful rainforest pool.
We were able to have our freshly caught fish prepared for us to cook on the barbecue - with delicious results - as our little one happily played in the toy-filled sandpit. If the DIY lunch option isn't your style, you can always order one of the daily delicacies from the menu.
A Maze'N Things is a world of interactive puzzles, mind games and illusions where water flows uphill and people shrink and grow before your eyes and where hours of fun can be had by the young and the young at heart.
After getting dizzy in the rotating room and falling six and a half metres off the heart-stopping vertical slide, we ventured outside into the huge wooden maze which was harder to navigate than we thought. When we did find our way out, the Puzzle Cafe was a great spot for a much-needed coffee break (and there are even games to play if you need more mental stimulation!)
Phillip Island is an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne
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