Phillip Island

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Grey nomads flock to Phillip Isalnd in Victoria to see the penguins
Phillip Island’s Fairy Penguins make their way up the beach. Photo: Tourism Victora

While it’s most famed for its motor sports and penguins, it’s far from all that Victoria’s Phillip Island has got to offer grey nomads.

The 100 km2 island is ringed by stunning coastline, is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and birdlife, and the friendly permanent population of around 10,000 is always eager to welcome travellers. As you might expect from an island whose population commonly swells fourfold during tourist season, grey nomads have plenty of caravan parks to choose from.

While a ferry service oper­ates between the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island, most grey nomads arrive from the mainland via a 650-metre concrete bridge which brings them to the picturesque fish­ing village of Newhaven.

Newhaven, and the island’s other towns, such as Rhyll and Cowes, are great places to stroll, to shop, to eat and to generally relax, but most travellers eventually heed the call of the wild. When they do, they normally head to the island’s western tip where they can stroll around a series of boardwalks to view the collec­tion of rocky islands known as The Nobbies. Some 1500 metres offshore, Australia’s largest colony of fur seals can be spied at Seal Rocks. Visi­tors can join a wildlife cruise to take a closer look at these playful creatures.

Most people though consider the fabled fairy penguins to be the main attraction here. Outside the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre, travellers can watch the miniature penguins emerge from the ocean and waddle across the beach to their sand dune burrows.

Across at the south-eastern tip of the island is Cape Woola­mai. There are some great walking tracks along the an­cient pink granite cliffs here, and it’s also a great place for birdwatchers to spot mutton­birds and many other species. Here also is a ‘break’ much loved by surfers. For nomads not keen to hang five, there are plenty of other less wild places in the island’s north in which to take a dip, including Cowes and Ventnor Beach..

While the island may appear fairly sedate most of the time, it’s not always that way. The Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit regularly hosts the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the World Superbike Championships, and some serious V8 Supercar racing. If you’re not on the island at race time, a visit to the Phillip Island Circuit Visitors Centre gives a great insight into the history of racing here.

Other places enjoyed by grey nomads include the his­toric farm at Churchill Island which offers a glimpse into the past lives of early Austral­ian settlers. Many visitors also consider The National Vietnam Veterans Museum a place they simply have to visit, either to remember, or to bet­ter understand!

So, whether you like high oc­tane excitement or a leisurely evening of penguin gazing, Phillip Island hits the spot.

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