If you’re an avid animal lover like myself, any visit to Melbourne simply isn’t complete without a day trip out to Phillip Island. Here are some great places to see Australian wildlife where the animals are safe, healthy,  and well respected in their environments.

Koala Conservation Center

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to see a koala up close and personal, and the Koala Conservation Center was the perfect place to see them. From a series of elevated boardwalks throughout the forest, visitors can come face to face with koalas hanging out in the trees and munching on eucalyptus leaves. Out of respect for the animals, they’re not close enough to touch, but definitely close enough to get some great photos (without flash). If you’re lucky, you might even see a joey with her mama. There are other native creatures to spot as well, such as wallabees, echidnas and even snakes.

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The animals here roam free and seem very relaxed and well taken care of. The Koala Conservation Center has a breeding program to help keep the koala population from further decline. Although they have no natural predators in the wild, poachers and the destruction of forests threaten their livelihood. The Koala Conservation Center is a safe haven koalas to live long and happy lives in their natural habitat.

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A wallaby (kangaroos smaller cousin).

Fun facts you might not know about koalas:

  • Koalas can live 15-20 years
  • They can sleep up to 18 hours a day
  • Koalas can swim!
  • Koalas are herbivores and can eat up to 1KG of leaves per day
  • Koalas aren’t bears, they’re actually marsupials (like kangaroos)

The Penguin Parade

As the most popular attraction at Phillip Island, crowds gather from far and wide to patiently wait for the native little penguin colony to return home after a long day of swimming the great ocean blue. As day descents into night, hundreds of blue and white little penguins march across the sand at Summerland Beach once the sun goes down. These adorable little guys huddle together in grounds of 10 or so at a time, quickly waddling down the beach and up the hill to their homes in the sand dunes. After the daily parade, guests can observe the little penguin gang and their babies toddle around their burrows from a levitated boardwalk.

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Patiently waiting for sundown at Summerland Beach.

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Photo courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks Australia: https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/penguin-parade/

I am happy to say that the rangers at the Penguin Parade work very hard to protect our penguin pals, ensuring the crowds stay civilized and seated behind barriers. Photography of any kind is strictly prohibited as to protect the little penguins’ sensitive eyes. It’s advised to arrive early to secure a great seat, and it does get a little chilly as the sun goes down so be sure to bring a blanket and some cozy clothes. The penguin parade is one of the cutest things you will ever see in your life, be sure not to miss it when visiting Phillip Island!

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Photo courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks Australia: https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/penguin-parade/

Fun facts you might not know about little penguins:

  • Little penguins are the smallest breed of penguins on earth and are only native to New Zealand and Australia
  • They might be small, but they are not lazy! These penguins swim up to 30 miles per day
  • Little penguins travel in groups and wait till sundown to come onto land to avoid being seen by predators
  • They can eat 25% of their body-weight per day in fish
  • In the event of an oil spill, sometimes rescued little penguins need to wear handmade knit sweaters to protect them from ingesting toxins!!!

To support the conservation efforts of the Penguin Foundation, you can symbolically “adopt” a little penguin. This comes with an entry ticket to the penguin parade and makes for a great gift for any animal-lover in your life.

Have you been to Phillip Island? Tell us about your experience below!