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Phillip Island, VIC

Major tourist attraction island famed for its Little Penguin Parade

Phillip Island is a popular day trip and holiday destination which lies south of Melbourne. It is connected to the mainland by a 640 metre bridge at San Remo which, in 1969, replaced an older suspension bridge. The island covers around 10,000 hectares; is 26 km long and 9 km wide; and consists largely of gently undulating countryside. The permanent population is over 10,000 (it is growing rapidly) and the island population reaches over 40,000 in the summer months. The main attraction, rated as the most popular rural attraction in Victoria, is the Parade of Little Penguins at Summerland Beach. There are also a range of appealing natural attractions on the island including Churchill Island, Seal Rocks, the Nobbies and the Koala Conservation Centre. It is also well known for the Phillip Island circuit and its famous motorcycle races.


Phillip Island is located 141 km south of Melbourne at the entrance to Western Port.


Origin of Name

Originally known as Millowl by the Boonwurrung Aboriginal people, the island was briefly known as Grant's Island (after Lieutenant James Grant who surveyed it in 1801) and then it became Phillip Island when it was named by Governor King who was almost certainly naming it in honour of Governor Arthur Phillip.


Things to See and Do

Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Located 20 km west of Newhaven is the Penguin Parade site on Summerland Beach. The little penguins, native to Australia, are the smallest of their species, growing to a mere 33 cm in height. They possess waterproof feathers and are most plentiful in summer when they are rearing their young. Each evening, just on dusk, hundreds of little penguins make their way back to their burrows in the sand dunes. The penguins go out to sea each day to catch food (mostly pilchards and other small fish) for themselves and their young. They return to the beach in 'rafts' (groups - sometimes of only a few, sometimes of some dozens) and make their way up the beach to their nests where they usually lay a couple of eggs which take about six weeks to hatch. The chicks remain in the nest for two months.
In recent times the activity has become so popular that a substantial visitors' centre with award-winning educational displays, a cafe, a theatrette and a souvenir shop has been established on the site. It is open daily from 10.00 am to dusk and offers a range of viewing options. See https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/penguin-parade/activities/ for specific details.

The range includes:
* General Viewing - from tiered seats overlooking Summerland Beach
* Penguins Plus - up close viewing from the seats
* Underground Viewing - a special eye level view of the penguins in their burrows
* Guided Ranger Tours
* VIP Tours
* Ultimate Adventure Tours
* Little Wonders Family Tours - 30 minutes with a ranger.
Walkways and boardwalks have been constructed to ensure that visitors do not stray onto the sand dunes The viewing area is an open air theatre with multiple viewing positions from tiered seats. Visitors must keep to the designated viewing areas. Rangers strictly patrol the site.
* During the summer and public holidays, it is advisable to pre-book your tickets
* The Parade is an outdoor experience - it is necessary to dress appropriately.
* Plan to arrive one hour before the penguins appear at sunset. The 'penguin arrival time' is advertised around the island. It is sensible to be seated at least 30 minutes before the Parade begins.
*Watch the audio-visual and computer interactive displays at the information centre
All of the profits go towards protecting the penguins' habitat and other research and conservation projects.
The Penguin Parade, Churchill Island and the Koala Conservation Centre are managed by the Phillip Island Nature Parks which was formed in 1996. The Park also manages coastal, bushland and other reserves on Phillip Island. There are a variety of ranger led activities throughout the January and Easter school holidays. For more information tel: (03) 5951 2800 and check out https://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/penguin-parade.

Churchill Island and Churchill Island Heritage Farm
This tiny and historic island covers 57 hectares. It is located 4 km north-west of Newhaven via a bridge which allows unlimited access. Access is from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Churchill Island was discovered, along with Phillip Island, by George Bass and Matthew Flinders when they arrived in the area on the sloop Norfolk in 1798. In 1801 Lieutenant James Grant constructed a simple cottage and named the island after his friend, John Churchill, who had supplied him with seeds. He planted corn and wheat and created a small vegetable garden. This is seen as the first European settlement in Victoria. Nine months later Lieutenant Murray visited the site and found the crops grown to two metres but there was no further interest and the island was abandoned.
In 1857 Samuel Pickersgill and his family settled on the island and in 1886 John Rogers built two small cottages.
Six years later the island was purchased by Samuell Amess, a building contractor responsible for the post office, customs house and treasury buildings in Melbourne. He built a symmetrical weatherboard homestead on the island in 1872. In 1976 it was bought by the Victorian Conservation Trust and it is now part of the Phillip Island Nature Park.
There is a useful two page guide to the island which can be downloaded at https://www.penguins.org.au/assets/Attractions/Churchill-Island/PDF/Churchill-Island-Visitor-Map-190514.pdf.

* Churchill Island Heritage Farm
The Heritage Farm is located where Samuel Amess built his seaside retreat (a 9 room house, a half cellar and barn) and includes the Rogers Cottage. It also has a range of daily activities including wagon rides, cow milking, sheep shearing, whip cracking and working dogs. There is also an animal nursery and a section where wallabies live. A Norfolk pine planted by Amess in 1872 has now grown to 25 metres with a girth of 4.4 metres. It stands outside his house. Also there is a cannon from the US ship Shenandoah which was given to Amess by the ship's officers in his appreciation of his hospitality when the ship visited Melbourne in 1865.

Churchill Island Walks
* The Churchill Island Loop Track is an easy 5 km stroll which starts at the Heritage Farm and takes around 90 minutes.
* The North Point Loop Track is 2.5 km and starts at the Heritage Farm. It takes around one hour.
* Grant's Monument Loop takes about 30 minutes and heads west from the Heritage Farm across to Grant's Monument.
* Wadjil'garook Wetlands takes around 45 minutes and heads east from the Heritage Farm to the mangroves and mudflats. It has signs which explain the indigenous culture and wetland birds.

* Churchill Island Sights
On the walks it is possible to experience the fine views across Western Port and the island's flora and fauna. The northern-most tip of the island, known as North Point is a particularly good place to see the migratory birdlife, especially at low tide when the mud flats are exposed. There are pied oyster catchers, royal spoonbills, herons, ibis, herons, cormorants and gulls. Nearby are basalt rocks which are 50 million years old and were originally part of Phillip Island. They were separated when sea level rose 10-15,000 years ago. The woodlands of the island's north-west feature the gnarled trunks of the island's stands of moonah, or melaleuca, trees which are 400-500 years old, and there are a few koalas in the manna gums. On the west coast is a monument to Lieutenant James Grant who planted a garden on the island (its location is unknown) in 1801.

Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve
Cape Woolamai covers 308 ha and is located at the tip of the island's south-eastern peninsula, directly south of Newhaven. The turnoff into Woolamai Road is 3 km west of the Newhaven bridge. It leads to a car park at Woolamai Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. Woolamai Beach faces out to Bass Strait on the western side of the peninsula. It is recognised as one of the island's best surfing beaches but it is known for its strong rips and currents. It has been recognised as a National Surfing Reserve.
The peninsula is known as the Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve and is characterised by dry coast scrub and rugged coastal scenery made up of granite cliffs and black basalt outcrops. The rocks of Cape Woolamai are home to around one million short-tailed shearwaters (known as mutton birds) which migrate from Japan, Alaska and Siberia, arriving on the island in late September to breed. They mate in early November, most eggs are laid in late November, and incubation lasts for 53 days. In that time the father and mother share the egg-minding duties. The chicks grow rapidly until they outweigh the parents. The adults leave on their migration two weeks ahead of their chicks which depart in late April. As they have a high body weight to wing surface ratio they utilise high winds, low sand dunes and a running jump to launch themselves.

There are three walks - all of which can be combined into one 8 km walk around the peninsula - check out https://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/walking-trails for more details:

* The Pinnacles Walk - (4 km, 2 hours return) is signed by green markers. It heads south from the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club car park along the western edge of the peninsula and passes the offshore rock formations known as The Pinnacles.

* Old Granite Quarry Loop - (6 km, 3 hours return) includes the Pinnacles and the highest point on the island (109 metres) which offers panoramic views. It passes Gull Island, which lies offshore, and a secluded cove on the eastern shore which was once a granite quarry employing 300 people. At the quarry wooden pegs were hammered into the rocks. These would swell when wet, thus cracking the rock.

* Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk - (6.6 km, 3.5 hours return) can be part of a combined walk which includes both the Pinnacles Walk and the Old Granite Quarry loop. It goes to the southern tip of the peninsula where there is a beacon and a lookout which looks east from the headland. See https://www.phillipislandpoint.com.au/attractions/cape-woolamai-state-faunal-reserve for photos of the walks.

The Colonnades
The Colonnades, an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt resembling organ pipes on the cliff face, lie at the western end of Woolamai Surf Beach. They form a natural barrier between the two beaches and are best seen at low tide. The Colonnades can be reached by walking north from the Woolamai Surf Beach car park.

Forrest Caves
Located off Phillip Island Road 5 km west of Newhaven, the Forrest Caves are a series of large sea-eroded caverns - they have been eroded in the red basalt cliffs - which are best seen at low tide. In fact they can't be accessed at high tide. The coastline near the caves is home to muttonbird rookeries and the birds can be seen between the end of September and April particularly around dusk. There are useful photos at https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/4005.

Surf Beach and Surfies Point
Located 8 km west of Newhaven and off Phillip Island Road is Surf Beach and Surfies Point. The surf forecast website explains: "Surfies Point in Phillip Island is a fairly exposed point break that has fairly consistent surf and can work at any time of the year. Offshore winds blow from the north. Clean groundswells prevail and the ideal swell direction is from the south. Best around high tide when the tide is rising. Often Crowded. Beware of locals, sharks and rocks." Check out http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Surfies-Point for more details and useful information.

Smith's Beach
Located 10 km west of the Newhaven via to Phillip Island Road to the one kilometre long Smith's Beach. Smith's is a surfing and diving area which is described by Surfunation as "normally the best surf spot for kids and beginners surfers on popular Phillip Island. This small beach has soft waves that are ideal for practising in the whitewater or catching green waves when the surf is small. The relative close proximity to Melbourne sees some big crowds flock to this spot on hot summer days and long weekends". Check out https://surfunation.com.au/surf-spots/smiths-beach-phillip-island.

A Maze 'n' Things Theme Park
A Maze 'n' Things, which is located at 1805 Phillip Island Road, Cowes is a family holiday entertainment which offers a range of intriguing optical illusions, a large timber three-dimensional maze, puzzles and mini-golf in sections called Magic Manor, Puzzle Island, Maxi Mini Golf, Sky Trail and Maze. Tickets can be purchased for combinations of these attractions. There are souvenirs, toilets, barbecues, a kiosk and a playground. Opening hours are from 10.00 am to 5.00 p daily, tel: (03) 5952 2283, or check out http://www.amazenthings.com.au.

Koala Conservation Centre
Located 10 km west of Newhaven at 1790 Phillip Island Road, is the Koala Conservation Centre. The centre, which covers 6 ha, has two unique elevated boardwalks which pass through the tops of the trees and allows a unique, close up, viewing of koalas who, for the most part, are sleeping or lazily chewing eucalyptus leaves. One boardwalk is an 800 metre loop and takes around 20 minutes. The other is a 600 metre loop which also takes around 20 minutes. This eco-tourism attraction has been vital in saving Phillip Island’s koala population. There is a special koala breeding program  and visitors have the opportunity to experience a ranger-led ‘Koala Eco-Explorer Tour’s.
The Koala Reserve is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily. It has a gift shop, toilets, disabled facilities, souvenirs, refreshments and picnic tables. There are also native birds, wallabies and echidna at the centre, tel: (03) 5951 2800 or check out https://penguins.org.au/attractions/koala-reserve.

Oswin Roberts Reserve and Conservation Hill - Walking/Cycling Tracks
A short distance beyond the Koala Conservation Centre there is a turnoff into Harbison Road which heads east towards the Oswin Roberts Reserve, a narrow remnant of pre-colonial forest. There is a pleasant bushwalk from the Oswin Roberts Reserve via Conservation Hill to Rhyll. The total distance is around 7 km one way and the track is used by both cyclists and walkers. The main track links up with the Conservation Hill to Rhyll Walk which is only 1.2 km return.  There is an observation tower at Conservation Hill which provides impressive panoramas of the wetlands around Rhyll. Check out https://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/walking-trails/ for information about the walks in the Oswin Roberts Reserve and infromation about Conservation Hill.

Rhyll, which is located 13 km from Newhaven, was named after Rhyl, a holiday resort town in North Wales. It is located on the island's north-eastern corner with French Island offshore, to the north. The land around Rhyll forms a saltwater lagoon that attracts migratory wading birds which fly thousands of kilometres to feed and breed at the inlet including royal spoonbills, straw-necked ibis, swans, little pied cormorants and the rare hooded plover. A boardwalk through the mudflats and mangroves provides excellent bird watching opportunities and there is a wetland observation tower on the Cowes-Rhyll Road.
Rhyll is a small fishing settlement with plenty of accommodation, two jetties, an all-tide boat ramp, a slipway, a yacht club, an angling club, a sailing school, a general store and a cafe.
Anglers will find plenty of squid, snapper, whiting, gummy shark, flathead, whiting, flounder, salmon, garfish, trevally and pike about. Check out https://www.visitphillipisland.com/category/explore/destinations/rhyll for more information.

Phillip Island Wildlife Park
Located at 2115 Phillip Island Road, Cowes is the Phillip Island Wildlife Park which is the largest privately-owned wildlife park in Victoria. It is set on 24 hectares which incorporates 6.5 ha of wetland. There are over 100 species of Australian animals including emus, cassowaries, echidnae, crocodiles, dingoes, goannas, wedge-tailed eagles, pelicans, koalas, snakes, kangaroos, black swans, wallabies, dingoes, rosellas, lorikeets, cockatoos, kookaburras, native owls, Tawny Frogmouths, Tasmanian devils, crocodiles, wombats and a nocturnal animals centre. There are picnic areas, souvenirs, toilets, barbecues and a kiosk. The admission fee includes a bag of animal food. It is open daily from 10.00 am. to 5.00 pm daily, tel: (03) 5952 2038 or check https://www.piwildlifepark.com.au.

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Located off Back Beach Road beyond Smith's Beach, this famous race track is the home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. As early as 1928 an Australian Car Grand Prix was run on the island's unsealed roads. The present circuit was opened in 1956 and redeveloped in 1988. In 1989, it hosted the first Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix which was won by Wayne Gardiner. It has also served as the venue of the Shell V8 Supercars series and the World Superbike Championship. 
The Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre features displays detailing the history of motor racing on Phillip Island. There is also Trackside Tuesday with Go Karts; Hot Laps with an experienced driver; a guided circuit tour; a circuit viewing experience; a simulator race centre; slot car racing; and push bike rides of the circuit. The complex is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5952 9400. Check out https://www.motogp.com.au for more details and tickets. For a full list of the activities available at the circuit check out https://www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au/family-fun.

Pyramid Rock and Berry's Beach Walk
Beyond the Grand Prix circuit, about 2 km west on Back Beach Road and 16.5 km from Newhaven, down Pyramid Rock Road is the car park and lookout across to Pyramid Rock - a striking basalt column in the shape of a pyramid which is located offshore. There are fine views of the coastline from a 5 km (return) walking track which is a combination of boardwalks, gravel and grass. The walk takes around two hours. Check out https://www.visitbasscoast.com.au/pyramid-rock-to-berrys-beach-walk for more details.

Kitty Miller Bay and the Wreck of the Speke
Further westward on Back Beach Road, and 19.5 km from Newhaven, is a turnoff to Kitty Millers Bay, a delightful secluded cove. The Kitty Miller Shipwreck Walk (1.8 km return) starts at the car park. Walk east along the beach and rock platform, to the wreck of the SS Speke (one of the largest three-mast ships of its day) which ran aground in 1906. The remains (mostly the bow of the ship) can best be seen at low tide. There is an excellent and detailed website (with interesting photos) at http://www.humbletrail.com/speke-shipwreck. It notes that "The Speke was originally a three-masted steel ship over 90 metres long, however, after the impact, majority of the ship was broken up into smaller debris that was scattered along the coast. The condition of the bow and dispersed ruins at this site, has deteriorated over time. The rusty steel and ongoing erosion most definitely adds to the experience, stamping itself as a maritime monument from last century."

Swan Lake
Located 11 km from Cowes via Ventnor Road is Swan Lake, the only freshwater lake on the island. It is a rich source of interesting birdlife and there is an easy walking track (1.3 km, about 40 minutes return) which leads to two bird hides at the edge of the lake. From the hides it is possible to see black swans, Cape Barren geese, ducks, swamp harriers, cormorants, black-fronted dotterels, Australian white ibis, spoonbills, white-faced herons, purple swamphens, shearwaters and masked lapwings. There is an excellent and downloadable brochure. Check out https://penguins.org.au/assets/Conservation/Education/PDF/2017-NN-Swan-Lake2.pdf.

Nobbies Centre, Seal Rocks, The Nobbies and The Blowhole
Point Grant is located at the south-western tip of the island. It is an ideal place to walk on the extensive boardwalks, look across at the 16,000 fur seals who live on Seal Rocks and to enjoy the sheer beauty of this wild and rugged section of Phillip Island coastline.
The Nobbies Centre, an ecotourism destination, overlooks the Nobbies, Seal Rocks and Bass Strait. The Nobbies is a rugged rock platform formed by volcanic activity 40 to 60 million years ago. To the south-west of The Nobbies, 1.5 km offshore, are Seal Rocks, home to a colony of Australian fur seals - the largest fur seals in the world. They have been a protected species since 1891 and feed on squid, fish and crayfish. The males measure up to 2.5 metres and weigh around 360 kg. The females are smaller. Their coats, when dry, range in colour from a yellow hue to greyish-brown on the back and fawn or brown on the side although, when wet, they look dark brown or black all over.
In the breeding season, the males arrive in November to claim a site and the females arrive later in the month. Each male has 10-20 females in his community and each female has one pup which is usually born in mid-January. The community can be viewed with binoculars from the Nobbies Centre and the boardwalk
For those who want a closer look there is a two hour coastal wildlife cruise which leaves from Cowes and offers excellent opportunities to see the fur seals. Check out https://www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au/cruises/seal-watching for times and prices.
The other main attraction at Point Grant is the boardwalks have been built on the slopes below the Nobbies Centre. It is a short walk around to The Blowhole which can be impressive during high tide and heavy seas. Silver gulls nest here and the chicks can be seen in spring and early summer. Check https://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/the-nobbies-centre for additional information and the opening times for the Nobbies Centre and cafe.

Grossard Point
At Grossard Point, on the north-western tip of the island, is the grave of Captain Grossard, an early settler who was mistakenly shot in 1868 while visiting the residence of the McHaffie family. It is located on Grossard Point Road which runs off Ventnor Road. Captain Grossard's dying wish was that he should be buried on a cliff near the sea. The inscription on the grave reads: "Sacred to the memory of William Phillip Grossard, formerly of Bideford, Devonshire, many years captain in the Merchant Service, who was killed by accidental discharge of a gun during a visit to Phillip Island, the 17th December, 1868."


Other Attractions in the Area

Cowes and the surrounding attractions
Cowes is a popular seaside resort and day tripper destination. It is Phillip Island's main town and administrative centre and has a holiday atmosphere with pleasant sheltered beaches and a large range of accommodation options. It is commonly used as a base for visitors wanting to explore the island and consequently, apart from its beaches and a small number of attractions in the town, the primary appeal lies in the Little Penguin Parade which occurs at Summerland Beach every night. It is also one of the charms of the island that, beside the road, there are still the occasional chicory kilns with their strange towers and pitched roofs. This plant was dried and converted into powder and mixed with coffee.

Foreshore and Beaches
The primary appeal of Cowes lies in its watery setting on the shore of Western Port. The town edges a number of narrow beaches and the walk along The Esplanade (the main road beside the beach) is an opportunity to enjoy the scenic foreshore and the views across the water. Near the jetty there is a grassy embankment under cypress pines. It has picnic and barbecue facilities, a children's playground, toilets and is a popular fishing spot. Rock pools characterise the basalt rock formations at the end of the amusingly named Erehwon Beach (Erehwon is "nowhere" backwards). The beaches, edged by three low rocky headlands, face north across to French Island and the Mornington Peninsula and are characterised by family-friendly, quiet waters.
To the east of Steele Street and The Esplanade is the Lovers Walk which leads past Erewhon Point, through tea-tree, banksia and yellow broom and on to an area of fine tall jacarandas and pines. The pines were possibly planted by Baron von Mueller, the first curator of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. The Lovers Walk ends at Dunsmore Road but it is possible to continue east along the beach to the inlet at Rhyll.
Anglers, most of whom prefer to fish off the jetty, can expect to fish for snapper, channel whiting, gummy shark, flathead, King George whiting, flounder, Australian salmon, garfish, trevally and pike.

Phillip Island and District Historical Society
Located at 89 Thompson Street, the Phillip Island and District Historical Society is open from 10.00 am - noon on Thursdays and Saturdays or by appointment, tel: 0400 900 612. It has exhibitions on the history and wildlife of the island with displays devoted to geology, natural history, Aboriginal history, maritime history, the early settlers and the island's bridges, schools and cemetery. For more detailed information check out https://pidhs.org.au.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans Phillip Island was home to the Boonwurrung Aboriginal people.

* In January, 1798 George Bass entered Western Port. He named it Western Port as it was, at the time, the most westerly known harbour on the coast.

* Bass returned in October, 1798 with Matthew Flinders. They anchored off what is now the settlement of Rhyll on the eastern side of Phillip Island. Bass thought that Cape Woolamai resembled the head of a snapper and so the island became known as Snapper Island.

* Lieutenant James Grant made the first known passage through Bass Strait from the west in 1800.

* Grant returned in 1801 at the instruction of Governor King. During that voyage he built a simple cottage on Churchill Island and planted corn and wheat with seeds supplied by his friend John Churchill, after whom he named the island. This was the first European settlement in what is now Victoria.

* Nicolas Baudin explored Western Port in April, 1802. He named French Island.

* The explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell believed that their 1824 overland journey from New South Wales had reached Western Port. This was wrong. They had reached Corio Bay near Geelong.

* In 1826 a French vessel, the Astrolable under Dumont d'Urville, examined Western Port, arousing fears of French colonisation.

* Governor Darling decided to forestall any prospective French plans by establishing a military and agricultural settlement at Western Port. Captain Samuel Wright was dispatched with troops, 21 convicts and William Hovell. Wright established a small military settlement at the present-day site of Rhyll on the north coast of Phillip Island and called it Fort Dumaresq. However, fresh water proved a problem and the outpost was moved to Corinella which was called Settlement Point.

* Hovell's exploration revealed that Western Port was unsuitable for agriculture, owing to poor soil, lack of fresh water and no Frenchmen, led to the abandonment of the  settlements in 1828.

* In 1840 the explorer Paul Edmund de Strzelecki passed through Western Port on his journey from the Murrumbidgee River through Omeo to Melbourne.

* Between 1802 and the 1840s, because of the colonies of seals which inhabited the coastline, sealers made regular stopovers on the island. Their settlements were short-lived and designed only to process their catch.

* The first permanent settlement occurred in 1842 when the McHaffie brothers were granted a pastoral lease covering almost the entire island. It was mainly used for grazing sheep. The brothers introduced deer and rabbits to the island.

* By 1842 there were no Boonwurrung Aboriginal people left on the island.

* In 1868 the island was surveyed and made available to selectors. The first recorded land sale took place at Rhyll.

* More sales proceeded in 1869 at Cowes which had been known as Mussel Point.

* Jetties were built at Rhyll in 1868 and at Cowes in 1870.

* By 1870 the Isle of Wight Hotel had been built at Cowes.

* A jetty was built at Cowes in 1870 and a ferry service began from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula.

* Fishing had emerged (particularly for crayfish) and chicory was grown for the first time in 1870.  Sheep, cattle and mustard were also part of the island's agriculture.

* Municipal government commenced in 1871.

* By 1872 there were 165 settlers on the island. 

* Development was slow. A number of early settlers were forced to abandon their land owing to drought. An exodus occurred in the 1870s with much of the property bought up by a small number of landowners.

* Koalas were introduced to the island in 1878.

* Both Newhaven and Rhyll came into existence in the 1890s.

* Closer settlement started occurring around 1911.

* The real development of the island occurred in the 1920s with the establishment of an access track to the penguin colony. The Penguin Parade started at this time.

* In the 1920s visitors accessed the island by means of the ferry service at Cowes where a number of grand guest houses were built. Visitors tended to explore the island by horseback.

* Summerland was subdivided in 1927.

* The Shire of Phillip Island was declared in 1928 and the first motor race was held on the island that same year.

* Grand Prix races on the island started in 1931.

* By 1936 about 40% of the island had been denuded of vegetation.

* A bridge linking the island to the mainland was built in 1940.

* By the late 1940s nearly three-quarters of Australia's chicory crop was being grown on Phillip Island.

* In 1952 land was made available for weekenders and holidaymakers.

* By 1974 about 80% of the island had been denuded of vegetation.

* In 1988 major upgrading of boardwalks occurred.

* In 1989 the first Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was held on the island.

* In 1994 the Bass Shire Council incorporated Phillip Island Shire.

* In 2011 only 38.3% of houses in Cowes were occupied. The rest were holiday homes.


Visitor Information

Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre, 895 Phillip Island Tourist Road, Newhaven, tel: 1300 633 422, OPen 9.00 am - 5.00 pm daily.


Useful Websites

There is a useful official website. Check out https://www.visitphillipisland.com.

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