Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a large island at the mouth of Western Port Bay, located less than two hours drive from Melbourne in Victoria. Because of its proximity to the state capital, it's a popular weekend tourist destination, especially during the summer months. The island is separated from the mainland by just a channel and is connected by a bridge. It is part of the Bass Coast Shire of Gippsland.


Cowes is the main town on the island, and in addition there are other smaller towns such as Rhyll, Cape Woolamai, Ventnor (closest town to the Penguin Parade) and Newhaven. The principal source of income is tourism, and there are many cafes, restaurants etc. to cater to the appetites of the tourists.

The island is steeped in motorsport history. Australia's first ever international Grand Prix was held in 1924 on the original circuit comprising the still existing roads on Phillip Island. The annual Australian Grand Prix , an official round of the World MotoGP plus a round of the World Superbike (WBSK) is currently held at the 1950s purpose built Motor Racing Circuit , and draws a massive contingent of motor sport fans (colloqially known as "petrolheads") every year.

Get in

There are a multitude of ways to reach the Island.

By car

The journey from the Melbourne City Centre to Cowes is just over 140km and takes about 2 hours (be warned, it can take up to 3 hours during major events such as the Grand Prix). The main route is down the Monash Freeway towards Warragul, turning off at the South Gippsland Freeway and following the signs. Phillip Island is connected by a two-lane bridge to the small fishing town of San Remo on the mainland.

By bus

V/Line runs public coaches from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne's CBD to Cowes on Philip Island. You will need to catch the coach towards Yarram in the state's east, alighting at the town of Koo Wee Rup. From there, you can transfer to another coach towards Cowes. The buses are timetabled to connect, so there should only be a 5-10 minute wait at Koo Wee Rup. There are 8 departures daily on weekdays, with 4 departures daily on weekends. The trip should take no more than 2 and a half hours. You can plan your journey at Public Transport Victoria.

By ferry

If you're after a more scenic journey, a ferry departs from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula to Cowes daily.

In total, the journey should take about 2 and a half hours, the same as the road coach. However, you will need to pay for a ferry ticket on top of a Zone 1+2 Myki fare. The ferry departs daily to Phillip Island at 8am and 5pm, with additional midday departures on Tuesday, Thursday and weekends. For timetabling and costs, see Inter Island Ferries.

If you want to make the first ferry departure and are catching the train, your only option is to catch the early 5:58am service from Flinders Street to Frankston in order to arrive at the ferry wharf by 7:40am. See PTV for timetabling and journey planning.

Get around

Phillip Island is not a small island. Walking from Newhaven to the Nobbies, on opposite ends of the island, would take upwards of 5 hours. Such large distances generally require a car to get around. The island's main road is Phillip Island Road, running from the bridge near Newhaven to Cowes. The turn-off to the left near Sunset Strip onto Back Beach Road provides the direct route to the Penguin Parade and the Nobbies. Most rural roads on the island have a speed limit of 80kmh, although be wary of wildlife such as kangaroos which are known to wander onto the road.

The island has very little in the way of a public transport network. The Cowes Line bus runs six times each way weekdays, and four times on weekends; it travels between Cowes and Wonthaggi, via Anderson and San Remo along Phillip Island Road. The V/Line bus to Melbourne also follows the same route from Anderson, and can be used for making short hops along the island. Tickets can be purchased on-board both buses. There is no public bus service to the Penguin Parade, Rhyll, the Grand Prix Circuit or the Nobbies.

Phillip Island Designated Driver (tel:0481 265 534) operates an on-demand transfer service around the island, including to destinations such as the Penguin Parade. Booking required, and a deposit must be paid in advance.


One of the famous Phillip Island fairy penguins.


A koala posing for the camera.


The rugged Cape Woolamai coastline.





There are many and varied accommodation options available for the visitor to Phillip Island. These range from hostel accommodation, caravan parks, motels to "bed and breakfast" and private short-term holiday home rental.

Stay safe


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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 21, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.