In January 1798 when George Bass entered Westernport on a voyage of exploration inspired by the survivors of the Sydney Cove. He named it Western Port (now written Westernport) the most westerly known harbour on the coast at the time.
Fondest memory: Bass returned in October 1798 with Matthew Flinders. The two men were travelling down the mainland coast on board the 25-ton sloop Norfolk on a voyage intended to confirm their suspicion that a strait existed between the mainland and the then Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). 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.
Phillip Island has its fair share of beaches, Woolamai being the most popular but there is much to commend just going around and looking at what the island has to offer.
Fondest memory: Cat Bay Jetty has been difficult when I tried to find out its provenance. As best I can ascertain it was put there to increase tourist travel to the island before roads became the major ingress and egress points.
Today it makes a lonely spectacle, rarely visited except by photographers.
Your first stop should be at the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre. Look for it on the lefthand side not long after you cross the bridge. If you miss it, you can always go to the Cowes Info Centre, located at the Cowes Municipal Centre on the main road (Thompson Ave).
There is plenty of free information to make your stay on Phillip Island the best. Ask for the "Phillip Island and Bass Coast Passport". In it you will find a list of things to do as well as some great discount offers. For example: if you purchase a 3 Parks Pass you will get a FREE Ranger Guided Tour, at A Maze'N Things you'll get either a 20% discount on single tickets or 10% off a family ticket. Lots of other special deals too.
The official Phillip Island Visitor Guide also had a discount coupon: 10% off if you buy a 3 Park Nature Pass.
Phillip Island has a bridge that comes in on its southeastern tip. Just as you cross over on to the island, you will see the Visitor Information Centre on the left. Make sure you stop here and get a free map!
The centre is open daily from 9am - 5pm, but if you come through before or after, they still have a lovely display outside where you can also pick up a free map and visitor guide.
If you need to get any souvenirs before you head out, this is a great stop for last minute souvenirs at their gift shop.
Mark and I were able to easily find our way around the island with the map provided! Also, Mark hadn't dressed for really cold weather, so he was able to pick up this nice warm hat with a couple of penguins on it. Great, useful souvenir :)
Favorite thing: There is a huge sealion colony at the small island off Phillip Island near to the Fairy Penguin site. Usually, the tour package will also include a visit to this sealion colony. Remember to bring your binoculars to see them clearly.
Favorite thing: This is a very popular activity and many tourists make the journey from Melbourne to Phillip Island to watch the cute fairy penguins come out of the sea to their nesting grounds on the shore. If you really want to see lots of penguins, my advice is do not go to the main gallery at the beach as there is too many people and lights which frightened off the penguins. There are some exclusive tour groups which bring you to a secluded and dark area near to the gallery where you can really see the penguins in their natural behaviour. Flash photography is strictly prohibited, so you need to get the postcards for remembrance.
Favorite thing: The southern coast of Phillip Island is rugged with steep cliffs where lots of sea birds build their nests. When visiting the sealion colony, you will have a chance to witness this sight.