‘You will fall in love with the cute Penguins at the Penguin parade’, assured everyone as they helped us prepare an itinerary for our Phillip Island tour. Little did we know that Phillip Island would be a cornucopia of indigenous treats for us wildlife enthusiasts, with its koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons. We had just returned to Melbourne from our Great Ocean Road trip (Read about our Self-drive trip here) and were prepared for our trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island. This post covers our trip to Phillip Island Wildlife Park, a 60-acre sanctuary for Australia’s unique animals to roam around freely. Phillip Island Wildlife Park is great for travelling with kids; kids can have a gala time feeding the animals here. If you are travelling with kids, we recommend spending time here, at the A Maze ‘n’ Things, the chocolate factory and the Antarctic Journey which is at the Nobbies.
Phillip Island Wildlife Park is a great place where you can observe animals up close and if you are up for it, you can even feed them by hand – just what you can put up as your profile pic. There are more than 100 species of indigenous animals here, many of them free to roam about, quite surprising that it is so close to the city as well. If you ask us, we would choose Phillip Island Wildlife Park over Maru Koala and Animal Park simply because our experience here was much better.
HOW TO REACH:
Phillip Island Wildlife Park is right opposite the Ramada Resort in Cowes on Phillip Island. If travelling by car, then you could key in Ramada Resort or Phillip Island Wildlife Park on the navigation system. Travel slowly lest you miss the rather bland entrance.
Getting to Phillip Island by public transport is very easy, the getting back part, however, is difficult as there are no buses or trains after 8 PM. We highly recommend getting a car to save time commuting within the island.
The Phillip Island Wildlife Park Travel Guide
With 60 acres to roam or rather, hop around, the animals here can be seen in a habitat that closely resembles their natural environment. So it is no wonder that the animals here are more lively than their cousins in the zoos. And they do not shy away from visitors either, they are comfortable being fed by the visitors. If you follow the rules, you can have a safe and memorable experience here and don’t forget our tips too.
As you enter the park, the free range is to your left and the enclosures to your right, a good place to start your trip is from the enclosures on the right. We ourselves headed to the right, sighting a family of Cape Barren Goose, with the mother duck in the lead and followed her as did her ducklings. Some children loved chasing the ducklings as they flitted out of reach.
Tip: Do remember to buy Kangaroo Feed at the ticketing counter; under no circumstances can you feed it your food.
Just across a small pond lay the enclosures and we headed over there to the nearest one. What appeared first to be a beaver turned out to be a wombat, a small one that was probably napping until the crowd shrieking ‘Oh my god! That is so cute’ passed him by. In the wild, wombats are solitary creatures and the ones here too prefer the solitude despite being in the same enclosure. Well, you can’t blame them considering the shrieking crowds. It is rare finding one in the wild as they are mostly nocturnal and hardly ever emerge during day. Here is a helpful link on what to do if you do meet one in the wild.
Tip: When feeding wombats, place the food on the ground instead of holding it in your hand as wombats may bite your fingers.
Of all the animals that we saw here, the Tiger Quoll would bag the award for the cutest animal. There was something very captivating about this active animal, which was strange as quolls are nocturnal and not very active during the day. The Tiger Quolls are the largest of the indigenous quolls in Australia and are named so because of the pattern on their skin. Quolls are also in danger of extinction due to European Foxes and other animals introduced during the colonisation of Australia. These quolls are carnivorous animals that prey even on small wallabies and pademelons, and that is why these ‘cute’ animals are kept encaged.
Talking of pademelons, a little one with a golden forehead hopped across to us and helped herself to a treat. She loved being petted and in fact even encouraged us to pet her more. She hopped alongside us, as we visited the other animals, gobbling on little treats every now and then.
We were so engrossed in feeding the wallabies that we were not able to hear the dingoes howling nearby. It had just started to rain and the dingoes were welcoming the first drizzle through their howls. It was a delight to watch the pack of dingoes run about frantically before growing tired and settling down to pose for our photos. We bid goodbye to our little pet pademelon as she refused to come anywhere near the dingoes, for obvious reasons.
Adjoining the Dingo Enclosure, was the Emu Enclosure that looked like a racetrack; long and narrow, just enough for the emus to whizz past us. Just beyond the Dingo enclosure, to the west, is the Free Ranch, a large area of the Park that is accessible through a not-so-large gate. The area near the gate with its leafless trees looked like a spooky forest out of a horror movie.
There were a few pademelons to be found, but they looked well-fed and simply apathetic to our presence. Crossing the spooky forest, we moved further to a wooden bridge and crossed it to be greeted by red kangaroos that were quite a few in number. It was the perfect setting to laze around, the drizzles had ceased and the sun was in no mood to shine with its might; people tell us this is the perfect Ozzie setting to relax, a shy sun with cool winds blowing.
Tip: Do not be alarmed if red kangaroos tend to flock towards you, do not run away from them, you may end up tripping or even falling on them.
Having watched videos of people getting kicked by kangaroos, we decided to play it safe and start feeding the smaller red kangaroos first. The smaller ones were more difficult to feed, especially with them trying to grab on to the food. Also, we had to crouch to their height to feed them which turned out more difficult than we thought. To add to the situation was a red swan that was successfully bullying the kangaroos and snatching their food. This bully finally succeeded in snatching away the packet containing the food.
Tip: Do not feed the swans or emus, they both tend to snatch the food from your hands and they are very successful in doing so too.
As we headed deeper into the range, we saw bigger kangaroos, mostly grey ones, it was as if the smaller ones had been kept out of this area. The bigger ones were clearly more territorial and were more happy keeping to themselves. The largest known kangaroos in the wild are the red ones which rise to a height of 2 metres, but the largest ones here are the grey ones.
We were fortunate enough to spot grey roos with joeys, it was a delight to watch them in the pouch-houses, popping their heads out from time to time to see outside. We had spent most of our time at Phillip Island National Park and it was evening by the time we headed over to the Nobbies, just enough time to catch the Penguin Parade, the most famous attraction of the island, we will write more about these attractions in another post.