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 SealWatching Cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises to watch as they dip and dive from the shore to the sea.
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.
- Watch the nightly arrival of the little penguins at the Penguin Parade.
- Get lost in a world of illusions at A Maze’ N Things.
- Tackle Phillip Island’s SkyTrail high rope course.
- Meet the animals at Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
- Catch and cook your own dinner at Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm
- Make your own chocolate at Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate.
- Visit Nobbies Centre to see Australia’s largest breeding colony of Australian fur seals.
- Get up close with koalas in their natural habitat at the Koala Conservation Centre.
- Slide down the sand dunes at Woolamai.
- Take a dip at one Phillip Island’s many beaches
Things to do on Phillip Island with…
Critter loving kids will love Phillip Island but there’s more to this area than little penguins and slippery seals. Visitors can take a stroll through eucalypt woodland and come face-to-fur with koalas in their natural habitat at the Koala Conservation Centre. Or they can pet a koala, hand feed a kangaroo or wallaby, take a walk with a dingo, talk to the parrots or get friendly with a python at Maru Koala and Animal Park. Grab an All-Day Pass’ for access to the animals all day as well as the park’s pirate themed mini-golf course. And at Churchill Island Heritage Farm, a historic working farm, little ones can enjoy a fascinating glimpse of the lives of the area’s early settlers and meet the farm animals in the hands-on animal nursery. There are also intriguing farming demonstrations including cow milking and sheep shearing.
Download the Penguin Parade Phillip Island app to keep the kids amused while waiting for the famous little penguins to emerge from the water at sunset and waddle their way home among the sand dunes or watch them in their burrows from elevated timber boardwalks. The Penguins Plus viewing platform offers visitors up-close viewing of the little penguins, complete with ranger commentary but positions are limited so book early.
Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate is a must visit for kids with amazing interactive chocolate displays, buttons to push and levers to pull, the world’s largest chocolate waterfall and sideshow games.
During the school holidays get dressed up to become a Junior Pirate Captain on a Pirate Cruise along the magnificent granite cliffs of Cape Woolami with Wildlife Coast Cruises. And for something completely different, why not pedal an aqua bike or take on a super fun Zorb Ball.
A Maze’ N Things is an intriguing world of interactive puzzles, mind games and illusions where water flows uphill and people shrink and grow before your eyes. After getting dizzy in the rotating room or falling six and a half metres off the heart-stopping vertical slide, venture outside into the huge wooden maze, though you must be prepared to stay a while as it’s a tricky one to escape. There’s also mini golf, a playground nestled in a natural bushland setting and a Puzzle Café where you can kick back at tables overflowing with games. Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm
is another of Phillip Island’s popular attractions. Here the kids can take the Bush Tucker Trail through three hectares of native food crops and throw in a line for a spot of leisurely trout fishing in the lake or indoor rainforest pool. Afterwards they can help cook their catch on the supplied barbecues.
There’s plenty of action on the water! Explore Phillip Island’s stunning coastline in a double sea-kayak. Try windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding and kitesurfing. Or learn to surf at one of the island’s excellent surf schools. Phillip Island Flyboarding will send you flying with hydropower out and above the water.
Visit the famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Go full throttle on the Go Karts at the 760-metre scale replica of circuit, take a spin on the actual track or experience the fun of Australia’s largest GP slot car track.
For sky high fun, Phillip Island’s SkyTrail is a new concept in high rope courses consisting of horizontally strung cables, ropes, boards and other materials secured between 10-metre steel poles with 34 challenges to take on. And for a real high, why not strap in to hover over Phillip Island on a joyflight with Phillip Island Helicopters.
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.
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.
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.
Top 9 family road trips from Melbourne
Need a break from the city? These are the best short family road trips from Melbourne. Pack your bags and get driving.
Australia’s best islands for families
You don’t have to travel far to find paradise. Our beautiful Australian islands offer something for every family. These are our favourites.