Phillip Island

Ultimate guide to things to do on Phillip Island with kid

Phillip Island, a popular day trip from Melbourne, lies just off Australia’s southern coast and boasts some rather famous locals. And while these locals do have a tendency to set hearts racing, we’re not talking about brothers Liam or Chris Hemsworth, who were born and raised here, but the 20,000 Little Penguins who call the island home. 

Every evening thousands of people eagerly await the arrival of its most famous residents as they waddle from sea to dunes.  But these little guys aren’t the only popular critters on the island as Phillip Island also boasts Australia’s largest breeding colony of Australian fur seals, around 12,000 of them in fact! Visitors can watch as they lounge about on the edge of the wild waters of Bass Street from Nobbies Centre, where you’ll also find Australia’s unique marine life showcased in a free exhibition.  Or you can head out on a Seal Watching Cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises to watch as they dip and dive from the shore to the sea.

Credit: Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island is also famous for stunning beaches. The south coast surf beaches, including Woolamai, Smiths and Summerland are best suited to strong swimmers and surfers while younger families can enjoy a paddle at the more tranquil Smiths Beach, Shelley Beach and Kitty Miller Bay.

Visitors can also discover a world of illusions at A Maze’ N Things, farmyard fun at Churchill Island Heritage Farm, Phillip Island’s own chocolate factory and The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, which is sure to fire up young racers.

Top things to do on Phillip Island

With so much to explore, we’ve rounded up our 10 not to be missed attractions.

  1. Watch the nightly arrival of the little penguins at the Penguin Parade.  
  2. Get lost in a world of illusions at A Maze’ N Things.
  3. Tackle Phillip Island’s SkyTrail high rope course.
  4. Meet the animals at Churchill Island Heritage Farm. 
  5. Catch and cook your own dinner at Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm
  6. Make your own chocolate at Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate.
  7. Visit Nobbies Centre to see Australia’s largest breeding colony of Australian fur seals.
  8. Get up close with koalas in their natural habitat at the Koala Conservation Centre.
  9. Slide down the sand dunes at Woolamai.
  10. Take a dip at one Phillip Island’s many beaches

Things to do on Phillip Island with...

Go full throttle on our 76 metre Go Kart Track and get your electronic lap time print out. Credit: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

Best time to visit Phillip Island as a family

Phillip Island is a great all-year-round holiday destination with four distinct seasons. While spring and autumn are mild, it can be bitterly cold in winter and extremely warm in summer, though the island’s location mean none of the uncomfortable humidity of northern Australia and cooling ocean breezes may still necessitate a light cardigan for the kids after dark.

Phillip Island’s famous resident penguins arrive at sunset every single day of the year, though in winter there is the advantage of fewer tourists so you don’t need to compete with as many onlookers to get a look see. Accommodation is also more readily available and you are more likely to pick up a bargain during the cooler months.  Phillip Island is one of the most popular destinations for Victorians during the summer school holidays, so beaches and attractions can be crowded and accommodation books out early.

Phillip Island is becoming a popular spot for foodie families. © Visit Phillip Island

Family-friendly places to eat on Phillip Island

Phillip Island’s Restaurant scene certainly makes for some exciting dining experiences. With all that coastline, Phillip Island is renowned for its fresh seafood and, of course, fish n chips, but the island offers a wide variety of cuisines and a selection of great restaurants, kid-friendly cafes, hotels and pubs in the main food precincts of Cowes, Rhyll, Newhaven, Cape Woolamai and San Remo. The Lone Pine Bistro at Phillip Island RSL is especially popular with families, featuring a good selection of children’s meals and a play room. And Margie’s Family Bistro in Cowes offers hearty pub grub and an indoor play area for kids. Those that are sweet of tooth can’t miss a visit to Phillip Island Chocolate Factory a celebration of all things chocolate with amazing attractions, interactive chocolate making machines and chocolatiers busily creating chocolates for you to try.

Harbour boardwalk on Phillip Island. Picture: Visit Phillip Island

Things to do for free on Phillip Island

  • With so many natural wonders to explore, a visit to Phillip island doesn’t need to cost and arm and a leg. You’ll find spectacular beaches, hiking trails, and more to explore without spending a cent. Entry to The Nobbies Centre is free as is the interpretive display on penguin conservation on Phillip Island.
  • It also provides access to spectacular clifftop boardwalks to see the blowhole and views over Seal Rock and its lolling residents. Walk along the pier to watch the boats at Rhyll, or take the Rhyll Inlet Walk, an easy mangrove boardwalk loop. Ride the sand dunes on your boogie boards at Woolamai then hit the road to Surf Beach for beautiful views.
  • Take a walk, ride or drive along the discovery trail to spot whales along the Bass Coast Whale Discovery Trail and feed the Pelicans at the San Remo jetty each day then tackle the excellent San Remo reserve and playground.
What’s on?

The best annual events for families on Phillip Island

March - Rhyll Wooden Boat Festival

This new festival celebrates the island’s boating history.

October - Australian Superbike Championship

Catch all the action of Australia’s premier production bike racing series.

October - Phillip Island Pro QS1000

This World Surf League Qualifying Series runs alongside the Phillip Island Junior Challenge and Indigenous Invitational.

November - Island Magic

See Formula Vee, Historic Touring Cars, Sports Sedans, Sports Cars, Formula Ford, and Porsche 944s race as well as great entertainment for the whole family.

November- The Phillip Island Jazz Festival

Get your toes tapping at this three-day celebration of jazz.

November - Phillip Island Food and Wine Festival

An annual celebration of the best food and produce on Phillip Island.

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