The Phillip Island 4 parks pass – Phillip Island Nature Parks
Phillip Island Nature Parks forms part of the UNESCO Western Port Biosphere Reserve, protected and managed by world-renowned environmental and research programs.
The Nature Parks manage coastlines, wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands and woodland on Phillip Island, in addition to world famous ecotourism attractions. They also protect many native plant species and are considered wetlands of international importance, protected under the Ramsar Convention.
If you’re planning to visit Phillip Island, there’s a great way you can experience the main nature attractions for one great price – a 4 parks pass.
Here’s what you can see with the Phillip Island Nature Parks 4-parks pass:
Phillip Island Penguin Parade
If you know of Phillip Island, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the penguin parade.
The penguin parade is a wildlife encounter that is just as sweet as it sounds. Located at the majestic Summerland Beach, the tiniest species of penguins in the world playfully swim to shore in small groups and waddle up the sand to their dune burrows. They’re the only penguin that live permanently in Australia.
Considered to be one of the top wildlife attractions in Australia, the penguin parade offers scenic, cultural and ecological values that are truly unique.
The Penguin Parade Experience
At sunset, the little penguins playfully swim to shore and huddle together to run up the sand to their burrows, aiming to get there safely while avoiding birds of prey on their way.
You can view the penguins from the concrete viewing platforms which are like a set of giant concrete steps at the end of a series of meandering wooden boardwalks. You can also (weather dependent) sit on the soft sand in front of the viewing platforms provided you stay behind the rope.
A big tip here is to sit as close as possible to the side edges of the viewing area. The penguins actually run straight ‘up’ the beach to the dunes, not across in front of the viewing area.
Once you’ve experienced seeing the little penguins make their way ashore and run up the sand, you can stroll back up the boardwalk area and see them really closely as they waddle underneath the boardwalk area back to their burrows.
Summerlands and the Penguin Protection Plan
An interesting part of the penguin parade history is the former Summerland Estate. In the early 1980’s, despite Summerlands having a large, protected reserve for the colony, the penguins were on the verge of becoming endangered.
Penguin numbers had decreased significantly to 12,000 and were further declining, a result of predators such as dogs and foxes, being hit by cars and residential development at Summerland Estate, a housing estate on the Summerland Peninsula.
In 1985, the Victorian Government started to implement the Penguin Protection Plan, along with the Summerland Estate Buy Back Programme to purchase the allotments of land on Summerland Peninsula that it had previously sold for development.
This included progressively closing the majority of roads, demolishing or removing houses, removing power lines, controlling weeds and putting a fox control program in place with the objective of protecting the penguin colony.
The scheme was finalised in 2010, with the land since being added to the Phillip Island Nature Park, rehabilitated and revegetated. The penguin population has now grown to around 36,000 and is stable.
Parents with young kids
If you get to the penguin parade an hour earlier as suggested, it can get a little bit boring for young children. There is not much happening while you wait for sunset and the penguins to arrive, and for fidgety kids it can feel like an eternity. Bringing drinks and snacks can definitely help.
An alternative? Arrive closer to sunset and it shouldn’t be a long wait to view the penguins from the boardwalks, rather than the viewing platforms. And you get to see them really close up! You can stand on the boardwalk and the penguins are right there next to you. This can be more of a thrill for kids than seeing them at a distance on the beach.
Helpful tips for the penguin parade experience
- The entire experience is outdoors apart from the visitor centre
- Bring warm clothes, especially in cooler months as it can get windy and very cold
- There are some toilets along the boardwalk so you don’t have to go all the way back to the visitor centre
- There is strictly no photography or video filming outside the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre. More info on the reasons for no photography here
- The visitor centre is has a cafe, information area and a gift shop but there is also a big redevelopment happening and a new visitor centre opening later in 2019
- There are VIP tours available at an additional cost, although apart from Penguins Plus, most are not suitable for under 12’s.
Image above: penguins.org.au
The above images show the viewing areas of the penguin parade in the night and day, with the main viewing area to the right-hand side. If you’re wondering what the brown matter is on the sand, it’s seagrass that has washed up on the beach.
Also located at Summerlands, is The Nobbies, a spectacular rugged headland on Phillip Island. The Nobbies is made up of The Nobbies Centre, which has a cafe, information centre and the Antarctic Journey experience; and The Nobbies Boardwalk.
The Nobbies Boardwalk
The Nobbies Boardwalk is about 800m return (20 mins depending how often you stop to soak up the view) and starts right next to The Nobbies Centre. You can experience magnificent views over the Nobbies Rock formations, and if you look further out you can see Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony.
The boardwalk has been developed especially for visitors to experience the rocky coastline, the seabird colonies such as Silver Gulls, and if the weather is right, you can catch a glimpse of the blowhole, a sea cave which spurts jets of water into the sky.
The Antarctic Journey
Another activity at The Nobbies Centre is the Antarctic Journey. Kids will love the interactive displays of the Antarctic experience and can learn about things like the sustainability of eating different types of seafood and interactive penguin activities. There are giant screens making the antarctic feel larger-than-life.
While the Antarctic Journey is a fun experience and a convenient distraction if the weather’s not so good, The Nobbies Boardwalk is a must-do.
Koala Conservation Centre
The Koala Conservation Centre is a wonderful opportunity to see cute, fluffy koalas up close, something particularly exciting for visitors to Phillip Island who are also first time visitors to Australia.
With beautiful, natural surroundings, the conservation centre has two serene boardwalk areas where you’ll spot a number of koalas having a nap or if you’re lucky you might see some changing position in the tree or nibbling on some gum leaves.
There’s also the Woodland Walk, where you can take a stroll and spot more koalas, as well as wallabies, many bird species and echidnas right from the path.
Stop in at the visitor centre at the beginning or end of your visit to learn more about the koalas and their conservation. Much is being done to protect our beloved furry friends. Drinks, snacks and gifts are also available.
Churchill Island offers a journey back in time to experience a piece of Victorian Heritage. This tiny Island is a historic working farm with historic buildings and gardens that reflect the farming methods and lifestyle of the 19th century, set with a stunning ocean backdrop.
It’s a truly peaceful, relaxing experience walking around the farm’s wide open spaces. The grounds are immaculate and there’s definitely a feeling of ‘old world charm’.
A range of activities are on offer and especially loved by children:
- Meet the farm animals like Max the Clydedale horse, chickens and ducks that wander around the grounds
- Join in daily farming activities like cow milking and sheep shearing
- Wander trails and marvel at the ancient Moonah trees
- Step back in time inside the homestead, the historic buildings and gardens
Originally home country to the Boonwurrung/Bunurong people, Churchill Island was also the site of the first agricultural pursuits of Europeans in Victoria. The land has been farmed since the 1850’s and was used as a holiday home for a former Mayor of Melbourne, Samuel Amess.
Purchasing a Phillip Island 4 parks pass
You can add a 4 parks pass to your booking when you book online at our park. Passes can also conveniently be purchased from our park Reception when you arrive.
Cowes Foreshore Tourist Park is only a 15 minute drive to the Penguin Parade, The Nobbies and Koala Conservation Centre. Churchill Island is just 20 minutes away. We offer a range of accommodation options and sites on offer overlooking a beautiful bay.
If you’re thinking of visiting this breathtaking destination and want to stay with us, don’t delay as we are often booked out months in advance. Book online today!