You might think that wintery conditions and a record month of rainfall would kill any chance at having a fun Phillip Island beach holiday with the kids.
Never one to let a bad weather forecast get in the way, we packed the boys into the car and headed to Phillip Island for 3 nights in the September school holidays – complete with gumboots, jackets and waterproof pants.
Thankfully the weather bureau got it wrong and we were blessed with beautiful – albeit a little chilly at times – conditions.
Cowes Caravan Park
Being typical kids, at 4 and 6 years old, our boys would have been perfectly happy to spend the entire few days digging human-sized holes in the sand, running around playgrounds and eating ice-cream – all of which they could do without even leaving our accommodation at Cowes Caravan Park.
Our 2-bedroom, beach view cabin was clean, comfortable and well-equipped. Best of all, it was only a few steps from both the beach and the caravan park’s playground.
I can highly recommend staying here if you’re looking for reasonably-priced, family friendly accommodation in a central area right on the beach. The staff were lovely – they even loaned me the ‘fancy’ hair dryer when I forgot to bring my own!
Koala Conservation Centre
Of course, being the irritating adults that we are, Mr D and I wanted to see some more of the island and make use of the 4-Parks Pass we’d been gifted by the lovely folk at Phillip Island Nature Parks.
First stop was the lazy, furry koalas. I love a good boardwalk. I have a sneaky suspicion it’s because it gives me a fabulous excuse to be close to nature but not actually in it… #citygirl
There are two main boardwalks at the centre which raise you up nice and close to the koalas. The rest of the park is made up of beautiful bushland trails you can take your time wandering around. Just watch out for their ‘shy snake’ – a great incentive to stick to the beaten paths.
Cowes foreshore and pier
No trip to Phillip Island is complete without a trip to the foreshore, a walk down the pier and fish and chips on the beach. Given there are at least half a dozen fish and chip shops on the main street, it’s not hard to find your refreshments!
Fairy penguins at Phillip Island
Of course, the main attraction is the fairy penguins, which make their journey up the beach at the same spot every night at sunset.
I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and the set-up has certainly modernised since then! Expect massive stadium seating, extensive boardwalks, dozens and dozens of tour buses and crowds from all over the world.
Arrive early, rug up and try to get a seat right down the front so you can see the penguins as they pop out of the waves. It’s highly entertaining to watch them face-off with the seagulls that try to scare them back into the ocean.
If you don’t get a good seat, don’t worry. The best way to see the penguins is actually from the boardwalks as they move back up the beach and through the scrub.
Top tip for seeing the penguins with young kids
It might seem like the best idea to go in summer when it’ll be a little warmer, but I think you’re actually better off going in winter with young kids.
The penguins always arrive at sunset. In summer this can be any time up to around 9pm.
In late September the first penguins conveniently waddled up the sand at around 6.45pm – just enough time for our boys to see a dozen penguins or so before they lost the plot from exhaustion and had to be taken back to our accommodation to be put to bed!
Not really surprising, given they’d started the day at 5.45am with buckets and spades on the beach.
Plan your next Phillip Island holiday with kids
- Book your accommodation through Hotels.com or Expedia (I can highly recommend staying at Cowes Caravan Park).
- Buy your 4-park pass from Phillip Island Nature Parks. It’ll get you into the Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and the brand new Antarctic Journey.
Have you been to Phillip Island with kids?
Got any tips you’d care to share?
Disclosure: I was gifted a family 4-park pass by Phillip Island Nature Parks. This post contains affiliate links. I was not paid to write this post; all words and opinions are my own.