Things to do in Melbourne

How to plan a seamless visit to Phillip Island Nature Park

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Phillip Island Nature Park, located in Victoria, Australia, is a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Known for its stunning coastal scenery, the park offers various activities, including watching the famous Penguin Parade, exploring the Koala Conservation Centre, and walking along scenic trails. Visitors can also enjoy the Nobbies Centre, with its spectacular views and seal spotting opportunities. Planning your visit is essential to make the most of these attractions and ensure you don’t miss out on key experiences, as the park has multiple locations with different schedules and seasonal highlights.

A family watching the sunset from Phillip Island

Before you visit Phillip Island Nature Park

Phillip Island Nature Park is perfect for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and families seeking a fun day out. Adventure seekers will enjoy the coastal trails, while animal lovers will delight in the penguins and koalas. It's also ideal for photographers, bird watchers, and anyone looking to relax amidst beautiful scenery and unique wildlife experiences.

Best time to visit

Weekends at Phillip Island are usually busy since most people who visit, make a day trip out of it. If possible, try to go between Monday and Thursday. The best months to visit Phillip Island Nature Park is from November to April, during the summer. The weather is crisp and sunny, with average temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius. For a quieter experience, consider visiting in the winter months, from May to October, when temperatures average around 15 degrees Celsius. Winters are mild, without snow, offering a different yet enjoyable experience.

A couple watching the penguin parade from the underground centre on Phillip Island

Recommended Tickets to Phillip Island Nature Park

Opening hours

Phillip Island Nature Park:

  • Koala Conservation Reserve: Open daily from 10am to 4:30pm. Last admission is at 4pm.
  • Penguin Parade: The visitor center opens at 5pm, with penguins arriving around sunset (6 or 7pm). It's recommended to arrive at least an hour before.
  • Churchill Island Farm Precinct: Open from 10am to 4:30pm on weekdays (last entry at 4pm) and from 9am to 4:30pm on weekends (last entry at 4pm).
  • Antarctic Journey at Nobbies Centre: Open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays (last entry at 4:30pm).
  • Everything is closed on Christmas, except for the Penguin Parade.


  • Little Penguin Café: Open from 6pm to 9pm.
  • Churchill Island Café: Open from 10am to 4pm on weekdays, 9am to 4pm on weekends. A la carte until 3pm.
  • Nobbies Café: Open from 10am to 5pm, with a la carte service from 11am to 3pm.
Couple at the cafe at Churchill Island

Tips for visiting Phillip Island Nature Park

  • Book a Guided Day-Trip Tour: If you're traveling from Melbourne, consider a guided tour. This way, you won't have to worry about transport, as a pre-booked air-conditioned bus will pick you up. Plus, you can visit other attractions like Brighton Beach, Healesville Sanctuary, and the Puffing Billy Train Ride.
  • Plan a Full Day: If you're visiting on your own, plan a full day of activities. Phillip Island offers endless options, so make the most of your time.
  • Advance Ticket Booking: Book your tickets in advance to avoid last-minute price hikes and get cheaper combo deals.
  • Phillip Island Cruise: Don't miss out on a cruise. Start your day with a Whale Cruise and morning tea, opt for an afternoon Seal Cruise, or go dolphin-watching.
  • Bring a Picnic Blanket: A picnic blanket is essential for comfort on the beach, especially during the penguin parade. It also helps mark your space in crowded areas.
  • Best Seating Spots for Penguin Parade: In the larger general seating area, head to the far left corner at the edge of the rope. In the smaller general seating area, go to the right corner. These spots offer the best views as many penguins come up through these paths.
  • Peak Season Arrival: During peak season, arrive at least an hour before sunset to secure a good spot.
  • Entertainment for Kids: If you're visiting with young children, bring a bucket and spade. There's plenty of space for them to play before the penguins arrive, keeping them entertained.

Getting to Phillip Island Nature Park

🚌 By Bus from Melbourne:

Travel Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Closest Station: Cowes

You can take a public bus from Melbourne to Phillip Island, with regular services available. Check the timings beforehand. The V/Line bus takes about 2 hours to reach the San Remo bridge and another 25 minutes to Cowes. From Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, buses stop at various points, including Cowes, Newhaven, Surf Beach, Cape Woolamai, and Sunderland Bay.

🚆By Train and then followed by Bus:

Travel Time: 2 hours

Closest Station: Dandenong

For train travel, catch the train from Melbourne CBD and get off at Dandenong Station, a 40 to 50-minute journey. From there, take a bus to Cowes, which takes a little over an hour.

✈️ By Air:

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Airport: Phillip Island Airport

For stunning views, consider traveling by air. Phillip Island helicopters from Essendon Airport or Moorabbin Airport can get you to the island in just 30 minutes. This option is more expensive but offers a unique experience.

⛴️ By Ferry:

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Airport: Cowes Jetty

Take a ferry from Stony Point, about 1 hour and 15 minutes south of Melbourne. Board the Western Port Ferry, which stops briefly at French Island before reaching Cowes Jetty. This journey takes about 45 minutes. You can drive to Stony Point or take a train from Melbourne to Frankston and then to Stony Point.

Rules and Accessibility:


  • Nighttime photography is strictly forbidden during the Penguin Parade.
  • Pets are not allowed at the Penguin Parade.
  • Children under 16 must always be accompanied by an adult.
  • Visitors must agree to be included in any recordings at the Penguin Parade.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on site.
  • Face masks are required when social distancing is not possible.


  • Pathways are wheelchair-friendly.
  • Special parking spaces are available.
  • The visitor center has ramp access.
  • Pram parking is available at the Penguin Parade.
  • Complimentary buggy service to the beach is provided.
  • Complimentary wheelchairs are available inside the visitor center.
  • Displays are positioned at wheelchair eye level.
  • Sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones are available.
  • Assistance animals on a harness or lead are welcome.

Things to do at Phillip Island Nature Park

Penguins walking up the shore at Phillip Island Nature Parks Penguin Parade
Penguin Parade

The penguins of Phillip Island follow a daily routine, venturing out for food during the day and returning to their nests at sunset. Watching these adorable, flightless birds waddle home at twilight is a breathtaking experience. Phillip Island Nature Park is recognized as one of the top eco-tourism destinations worldwide. Visitors can view the penguins from a special platform near the beach.

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Koala’s at the Phillip Island Koala Conservation Reserve
Koala Conservation Reserve

Home to one of Australia's most iconic marsupials, the Koala Conservation Reserve attracts thousands of tourists each year. Here, visitors can observe protected koalas roaming freely in their natural eucalyptus groves.

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Antarctic Journey
Antarctic Journey

Antarctic Journey offers an interactive virtual tour of Antarctica and its surrounding oceans. Discover the fascinating lives of creatures inhabiting this cold, harsh environment. In the 'Antarctic Chill Zone,' you can compare your body's thermal image with that of an Emperor penguin.

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Visitors with horses at the Churchill Island farm
Churchill Island

Step back in time on Churchill Island, where horse-drawn carts and traditional farmhouses evoke a bygone era. This picturesque island offers stunning ocean and beach views, alongside historic cottages and lawns. Connected to Phillip Island by a bridge, the 57-acre island features wetlands, gardens, and Moonah tree groves.

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Phillip Island Nature Park - Plan Your Visit