Visitors approach the island from the east, passing through the town of Newhaven. The main town on the island, Cowes (pop. 2,400), is on the north coast. The penguin parade is on the far southwest coast.
The trip to the west coast of Phillip Island's Summerland Peninsula ends in an interesting rock formation called the Nobbies. This strange-looking outcropping can be reached at low tide by a basalt causeway. You'll get some spectacular views of the coastline and two offshore islands from here. On the farthest of these islands is a population of up to 12,000 Australian fur seals, the largest colony in Australia. Bring your binoculars. This area is also home to thousands of nesting silver gulls. The Nobbies Centre (tel. 03/5951 2883; www.penguins.org.au) is a marine interpretive center with information about the wildlife, binoculars for better viewing, and a cafe. Entry is free from 11am daily (10am in summer) until sunset, when the area is closed to the public to protect the wildlife.
On the north coast of the island, you can explore Rhyll Inlet, an intertidal mangrove wetland inhabited by wading birds such as spoonbills, oystercatchers, herons, egrets, cormorants, and the rare bar-tailed godwit and whimbrel. Birders will also love Swan Lake, another breeding habitat for wetland birds.
Elsewhere, walking trails lead through heath and pink granite to Cape Woolamai, the island's highest point, where there are fabulous coastal views. From September through April, the cape is home to thousands of short-tailed shearwaters (also known as mutton birds).
A ThreeParks Pass gives discounted entry to the Koala Conservation Centre, the penguin parade, and the island's other major attraction, Churchill Island Heritage Farm (tel. 03/5956 7214; www.churchillisland.org.au). The pass costs A$36 adults, A$18 children ages 4 to 15, and A$90 for families of four; it can be purchased online (www.penguins.org.au) or at any of the attractions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.