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One day on Phillip Island

We show exactly how much you can see and do while spending a day on Phillip Island.

Two hours from Melbourne, beyond the bridge at San Remo, is Phillip Island, where a quirky combination of attractions makes for a joyous experience for families.

The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Arriving at Phillip Island, it’s time for your very own ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ moment. Dismiss the thought of sticky fingers and an afternoon of sugar-induced euphoria; at The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, the only thing worth worrying about is whether there’s enough Belgian couverture to line the pockets of all. Smooth, glossy and breaking with a satisfying snap like all quality chocolate should, Panny, the resident confectionary creator, has mastered the recipe for scrumptiousness; peanut brittle, honeycomb, Turkish delight and rocky road mouthfuls are yours for the taking. Before good sense gets the better of you, it’s worth brushing up on the factory’s 10 Reasons to Eat Chocolate, which includes encouragement along the lines of: “You can get a whole day’s calories in one handy package.” Who could argue with that? Panny’s Family Window is a new animatronics spectacular that welcomes guests into a day of the life of these cheerful chocolate makers, from the moment a team of Little Penguins deliver the precious cocoa cargo to the unveiling of the final product. Be sure to create your own bar at Panny’s Amazing Chocolate Machine, filling it with weird and wonderful flavours that would satisfy even the most discerning Oompa Loompa before it is delivered ready to eat by conveyer belt.

Phillip Island Circuit

Now, Mr Wonka may have had his glass elevator, but it certainly doesn’t compare to Phillip Island’s means of getting from one attraction to the next. As the home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, all things that ‘vroom’ are treated with reverence. Phillip Island’s love affair with motor racing began in 1928, when the circuit was nothing more than a dirt road. Now, close to 80,000 people embark on the ‘pilgrimage’ to witness 25 1000cc four-stroke machines regularly topping speeds of 330 kilometres per hour. On every other day of the year, families can get their fix at the very same track, the Phillip Island Circuit. Daredevils are advised to opt for the Super-Fast Hot Laps experience, three tarmac-shredding circuits of the famous track with an experienced driver. Those that want to grip the wheel with their own hands can head to the Simulator Race Centre and challenge their friends and family, while a guided tour of the track still enables the more cautious to say they took on one of the world’s greatest racing challenges, and they can experience the spectacular views of Bass Strait while they’re there. There’s also Go Karts and Tandem Karts for the little ones that feature dual controls.

Penguin Parade

When evening settles, swap the rumble of engines for a few gentle hours of observation. Each day at sunset on the westernmost tip of the island, a procession of Little Penguins emerge from the water in what is known as The Penguin Parade. Visitors are invited to watch as they waddle across the beach to the safety of the sand dunes after a day of fishing. The Parade is without doubt the highlight of your Phillip Island experience, so it’s worth considering the range of viewing options available. Tiered seating and elevated timber boardwalks at Summerland Beach provide 180-degree views of the world’s smallest penguins as they journey home, and will be more than sufficient for most families. For an experience that truly impresses the family, however, the Ultimate Penguin Tour is unsurpassable. Small groups of no more than 15 have a secluded beach to themselves, while a ranger commentary is delivered through personal headphones. The star attractions are viewed with the help of night vision technology, as they waddle up the cooling sand. Before you head to Phillip Island, be sure to go online and look at the live penguin burrow camera for a peek inside their home.

Time to rest

At this point, your own little penguins will be ready to return to the nest, and there are enough holiday parks, serviced apartments and resorts on the island to suit a range of family sizes and budgets. The BIG4 Phillip Island Caravan Park offers sites, cabins and villas with the added benefits of a jumping pillow, games room and playground, while the Ramada Resort Phillip Island features one-, two- and three-bedroom villas and on-site dining and recreational facilities. The 4.5-star Silverwater Resort is a Holidays with Kids Readers’ Choice Award winner with luxurious one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Nobbies Centre

Well rested and propelled by the thought of another wildlife encounter, spend the next day at Nobbies Centre, managed by the not-forprofit Phillip Island Nature Parks Australia. From gangly sea spider under the powerful lens of a microscope. With the help of augmented reality technology, you can even pat a penguin or stroke a seal as you balance its cliff-top boardwalk you can spot Seal Rocks, on an ice floe! a rocky outcrop 1.5 kilometres offshore, home to one of Australia’s largest fur seal colonies. Come prepared with binoculars and you may catch a glimpse of new pups born between late October and December. While these slippery ocean dwellers have long drawn crowds to the centre, a new interactive Antarctic Experience opening in December 2015 only adds to its appeal. Visitors can embark on a virtual journey to the Southern Ocean, with this little island on the Victorian Coast regarded as the gateway to the Earth’s windswept and wild southern continent. As a global fascination with Antarctica grows, families can, for the moment, take part in child-friendly interactive experiences that include comparing their thermal images with that of an Emperor penguin and observing a gangly sea spider under the powerful lens of a microscope. With the help of augmented reality technology, you can even pat a penguin or stroke a seal as you balance on an ice floe.

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