It was my second time in Melbourne. I had already seen Melbourne's CBD, the Great Ocean Road, and even free tourist attractions in Melbourne (see blog posts for itineraries). This time, I wanted to see the famed penguins who reportedly parade their way back home every night. Depending from where you're staying in Melbourne, Phillip Island is 1-3 hours drive away. Now some people stay there a couple days but we only made it a day trip. Read on for our one-day Phillip Island itinerary.
From where we were staying, Phillip Island was 2-3 hours drive away. So we stopped for a fish and chips lunch on San Remo just before we crossed the bridge. There were some picnic benches and tables there so it was nice to have a relaxed lunch while looking across the bridge excited for the adventure to come.
The Chocolate Factory: Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate
I was initially unsure if I wanted to pay the $17 per person entrance fee to see a chocolate factory when I've already been to the free chocolate factory tour in Adelaide but we were already there and we would never know what was inside unless we try it. So we purchased our tickets and were happy to find that the tickets were made of chocolate!
Now because we entered with very low expectations, we were pleasantly surprised. The factory was made to be very interactive. You start out entering an educational area where you learn about how chocolate is made, to puns, and artwork all made out of chocolate.
Of course my favorite part had to be the chocolate. I may or may not have eaten a few pieces of chocolate that this chocolate machine produced...
Your ticket also entitles you to a few turns on their arcade-like games. When you win, you get balls/tokens which you then exchange for real chocolate balls when you get out. Yey for more chocolate!
Because we ate all that chocolate, it was time for a hike! Now we visited Phillip Island in the spring time and although the weather forecast said it would be warm, we came prepared for the Penguin Parade. All the Penguin Parade reviews I read said to dress warmly no matter the season because it would be cold by the beach. Well well well. It was HOT during that day and us being dressed in jeans did not make for happy hikers.
The pathway was somehow damaged during that day so we had to walk on the very soft sand (think burying your feet in sand) all the way til we reached a stairway to start the real hike. Jeans + rubber shoes + sand + extremely hot weather = we were exhausted before it even began. Truth is we didn't quite appreciate the view at the time. All reviews said the Pinnacles lookout would be beautiful and breath-taking but when you're exhausted and you've already been to The Great Ocean Road, or NSW's Blue Mountains, etc, it just didn't quite do it.
We stayed in an air-conditioned place for dinner and had a cold milkshake after that.
The Penguin Parade
Finally, this is what everyone drives to Phillip Island for. Everyday, no matter what season, there is this wonderful phenomenon that we get to witness the little penguins make their way home. If I am not mistaken, hundreds of penguins make their way home every night. They keep count of how many penguins actually parade every night.
There are designated seating areas for the audience (I recommend the front corner right next to the barricades so you can see the penguins closer) and the audience is instructed to be as quiet as possible as we watch the penguins. Slowly, in small groups, the penguins make their way home. You can actually see the penguins checking out the area for safety first, before actually making their way out of the water. They then rush to safety as quickly as possible. They are in their natural habitat so the audience is instructed that absolutely NO PHOTOGRAPHY IS ALLOWED. Later on, we head back to the boardwalks and you can see the little penguins going about underneath. You can just imagine them saying, "Honey, I'm home!" to their mates. Or maybe hanging out with the neighbors.
Sadly, SO many people actually took photos - and flash photography at that! Even when you remind them about the no photography rule, they just didn't care. It is so rude and so sad. I wish they had security to actually school these people. These penguins are in the wild and they should be protected and not disturbed. However, the income they make from the tourist attractions go towards protecting not just the penguins, but all of nature and wildlife on Phillip Island. So make sure you support the cause when you visit!
While some friends advised against going to Phillip Island for the penguin parade, I am so glad that I did. It was truly worth the drive to witness so many tiny penguins in their natural habitat - like National Geographic come to life. And of course, the chocolate at the chocolate factory made me happy too!