Most visitors come to Phillip Island on a day trip from Melbourne and arrive in time for the penguin parade and dinner. Several tour companies run day trips. Among them are Gray Line (tel. 1300/858 687 in Australia or 03/9663 4455; www.grayline.com or www.grayline.com.au), which operates a number of different tours, including the daily "penguin express" trips for those who are short of time. The express tour departs Melbourne at 3pm and returns at around 9pm. Tours cost A$120 for adults and A$60 for children, and can be booked online in U.S. dollars before arrival. Upgrades to premium seating at the penguin parade and various other options are available.
If you're driving yourself, Phillip Island is an easy 2-hour trip from Melbourne along the South Gippsland Highway and then the Bass Highway. A bridge connects the island to the mainland.
V/Line (tel. 13 61 96 in Australia) runs a bus from Melbourne to Cowes, but does not take you to any of the attractions on Phillip Island. Once on the island, you need to hire a car, take a tour, or hire a push bike to get around. The parade is 15km (9 1/2 miles) from the center of Cowes.
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.