Penguins are the only wildlife wonders on Phillip Island. The Koala Conservation Centre, allows you to witness Australia’s cuddly ambassadors in their native habitat, above the wallabies, echidnas, and wombats that roam below.
The wildlife adventure continues to the new Antarctic Journey experience at the Nobbies Centre, which should be followed by a Wild Oceans EcoBoat Tour to Seal Rocks. Along the way, whales and dolphins may surface in front of your eyes, before you arrive at rocks where hundreds of sunbathing seals rest.
Most of Phillip Island is isolated and remote. Cowes is the island’s human hub: where beachgoers catch sunrays at Ventnor Beach, or pedal bikes to San Remo to taste fresh caught fish. Of course, coffee is a must anywhere in Victoria and Madcowes Cafe, is the perfect stop before leaving Phillip Island for the Mornington Peninsula.
When you’re on the peninsula, make a stop at Rye, a boating and swimming hotspot. There you can partake in Peninsula Stand Up Paddle; and enjoy the view from the water, without being in it! For the more adventurous, spearfishing, a kayaking journey or scuba diving are all possibilities.
Want to swim? How about swimming with dolphins? It’s possible just a 10-minute drive down the road from Rye to Polperro. Book a trip with Polperro Dolphin Swims and you can join bottlenose dolphins and seals in the calm waters off of the peninsula shores.
After a dip in the ocean, a visit to Big Blue Backyard by St Andrews Beach is a must. In between the beach and bushland, this boutique hotel has just three romantic rooms and a well-travelled, luxury chef waiting to cook you breakfast and dinner. If that doesn’t sound relaxing enough, a trip to the nearby Peninsula Hot Springs; will sooth any traveller.
Lunch spots on the Mornington Peninsula are aplenty, and Montalto in Red Hill, is on the top of the list. This special spot includes a picturesque vineyard and boutique restaurant, all in the peninsula’s natural wetlands. Here you can indulge in a vino and olive oil tasting and then walk off the tasting with a stroll through well-manicured gardens.
We don’t blame you if you don’t want to leave the Morning Peninsula but more Aussie awesome awaits down the road. The route carries forward to Sorrento where a ferry delivers you to the white-sand beaches of Queenscliff. Don’t miss the architecturally appealing Vue Grand Hotel, which was constructed in1881.
Roadside you’ll find appetizing dinner options, none more than the freshly caught seafood at the Advance Mussel Supply. If you’d like some local wine with your meal, a short drive to Jack Rabbit Vineyard, gives you the opportunity to taste the best in Australian food and wine. The vineyard’s restaurant serves miso pork belly garnished with pickled peach purée, while the caramelised banana tart is a must-order.
This driving route includes Victoria’s second largest city: Geelong, which is a magnet for beach lovers. Lay out on Eastern Beach, or take a stroll along Cunningham Pier, or if you want a sand-free experience, tour the Old Geelong Gaol and explore the galleries and gardens that colour the city.
Just 25 minutes from Geelong is Victoria’s surf capital, Torquay and its noteworthy beaches await your bare feet. On Bells Beach you can sunbathe while watching talented surfers carve up the waves. If you’re visiting in April, time your trip to Torquay to coincide with the Rip Curl Pro contest, an international surfing competition.
When you’ve had your fill of the beach, Melbourne is just a 90 minute drive via the aptly named Surf Coast Highway.