I hadn't been back since Wayne Gardner won at the first Australian Motorcyle Grand Prix that was truly international. That had been unforgettable. What would it be like nearly two decades on?
In a word, awesome. I regretted not going back for a repeat performance but, now that I've been, I have already purchased my ticket for next year.
There's something about going to a venue where at least half a dozen performers have achieved number one in the world and they're all in one race at one time. Add to that the screaming roar of the motors and the electric atmosphere in the stands - hold that spot, I'm coming back!
As you can clearly see from these pics, it was fairly colourful although, I have to say, I felt somewhat inappropriately dressed in jeans and such when over half the crowd were wearing leathers.
I loved the last shot. This is what happened after the event when several gentlemen, and I use that term in its broadest sense, avoided the queues at the overcrowded toilets!
For sheer racing, nothing beats the 125s. Their lack of top end speed allows riders with slightly lesser machines to stay with the pack and, by drafting, to move up places.
Thus it was that during the 125s there were five different leaders and that would change every lap, sometimes more than once.
Riders would go from 1 to 5 in the matter of a few seconds. It really is exciting for the purist.
The 250s can get a break but the Spaniard Lorenzo, destined for even greater things one feels, simply rode away with petulant ease, totally dominating the dogfight over the minor placings.
There was also Superbike, 125c.c. Australian and a 600c.c. support race, all of which were brilliant. I really couldn't understand why 90% of the crowd wandered off while they were on.
Still, here's some pics from what I saw.
The much hyped Penguin Parade. Waited for more than 1 hour...lot of them arrived...but you can able to vie it from 50 mts away...I didnt enjoy this very much....watched the penguins more closer at the Nobbies than at the Penguin parade.
If you arrive well before the Penguin Parade place, then try this one....just a 10 minutes drive from Penguin Parade, you can reach 'Nobbies'. They have a nice walk around place along the rocks overlooking the sea. At some places you can see the little Penguins below the walk path.
This is one the best course (Go Kart) I ever did. The course is the scaled version of the 'Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit'. Just near the sea...with the beautiful view. Just like most of the Go Karting places, they used to give your lap time along with your partners record, if you have. If you luv to do Go Karting...just don't miss this...even though its little bit expensive....its an awesome experience.
Wildlife Park is the best place to get close encounter with Kangaroos and Wallabies. As I always want to get close to Kangaroos, I liked this place very much. Along with your ticket they provide a pack of food (hope it’s for animals only), you can feed them to the animals in the wildlife park. As soon as the kangaroos and wallabies hear the noise of you opening the packet…they started to come near you…sometimes they even pull it from you. Be careful not to put your hand on your face after feeding the animal… you may want to carry a pair of gloves and a soap (for washing when you leave)…the toilets have common soap (bars) and sine there is no liquid soap….it will be great, if you have one for yourself.
Koala Conservation Center, is the best place to watch the Koala very close. But you can also do this at Wildlife Park. If you are not interested in other birds and do not want to walk around…just ignore this place and head straight to the Wildlife park. We went to this place since at the information counter, we bought that Combo pass!! Better to avoid this and pay where ever you go… But we didn’t regret, since we were very near to a koala (sleeping), since these creatures are nocturnal, they sleep all day and wake at night.
It took just 20 minutes to roam around the Koala walk path. Hope they have 4/5 Koalas there. You can also spend more time, if you take a long walk.
Such a small place, but it takes almost 2 hours to see & play. Like this place for their Illusion stuffs, design of the gravity room and the puzzles. It’s excellent!! Don’t miss this. They also have Mini Golf which they call as Maxi Golf. I can’t explain everything here…rest is for you to figure out. Enjoy!!
Photo: Lookout the clock!!! its going anticlockwise with the right time!!
On the northern side of the island you can find all the safe swimming beaches. Read - away from the ocean's swells beaches.
If your choice is lazing on the sand reading a book interspersed with the occasional dip then this area will suit you down to the ground, or sand as the case may be.
Ventnor is easily reached just west of Cowes and there's a lovely wooded parking area where you can park your vehicle.
The second pic is actually looking west along the beach at Cowes. You might just be able to make out the masts of the yachts at the local club on the left.
No need to ask how this formation got its name. On Back Beach Road, around 2K's past the circuit, you'll note the appropriately named intersection. Turning left here leads to Pyramid Rock - a series of basalt columns located offshore at the end of Pyramid Rd. There's some neat views as well, pic two being my favourite.
There's a well made walk and viewing platforms so no need to be worried about the track, it's very easy and not very far.
This race track is the home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, part of the international grand prix circuit.
It wasn't always so, but it does represent the culmination of a chequered history of the island and motor racing dating back to 1928 when the Australian Car Grand Prix was run on the island's then unsealed roads. The connection continued over the years with numerous Grand Prix and motorcycle events being held on the island. The present circuit was opened in 1956 and redeveloped in 1988 in preparation for the big event (see previous tip). Thus, in 1989, it hosted the first truly international Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, won in epic fashion by Wayne Gardiner who also won the next one. It also serves as the venue of the Shell V8 Supercars series and the World Superbike Championship.
It is situated roughly 4 km along Back Beach Road and you can visit anytime.
These days there is a Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre which features displays detailing the history of motor racing on Phillip Island. Items include Wayne Gardiner's 1987 World 500cc Championship-winning Honda NSR500 and an original 1928 Bugatti GP racing car. There is a guided tour (subject to availability) by mini bus which takes you around the circuit, a series of boardwalks which pass through the Water Gardens and animal enclosures to an excellent Circuit Viewing Area. You can also have your photograph taken on the winner's podium. There is a licensed cafe, a games room, a children's playground and a gift shop. The complex is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m
The undisputed "capital" of Phillip Island, this town is situated in the middle of the northern, or protected, side of the island.
With its name reflecting the English heritage of the area it also has a sailing club though it bears little comparison with its English counterpart.
The first recorded land sale took place at nearby Rhyll in 1868 and sales proceeded in 1869 at Cowes which had been known as Mussel Point until 1865. By 1870 the Isle of Wight Hotel had also been built at Cowes. (pic 3)
165 settlers were to be found on the island in 1872. It was initially hoped that wheat-growing would prove to be a winner as Phillip Island was a short boat trip from the Melbourne markets, but the industry never really made it.
Fishing had emerged (most notably for lobsters) and chicory was grown for the first time in 1870. Remnants are there that you can still see, beside the road, the occasional corrugated iron clad chicory kiln with its strange tower and pitched roof. The plant, which is a root crop, is dried and converted into powder and mixed with coffee. It was claimed that chicory had medicinal properties. By the late 1940s nearly three-quarters of Australia's chicory crop was being grown on Phillip Island but it eventually faded owing to high labour costs and declining demand. Sheep, cattle and mustard were also produced in this era and can still be seen today though tourism is, without doubt, the main money spinner on Phillip Island.
Municipal government commenced in 1871. However, development of the island was slow as 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. By 1902 there were no more than 50 settlers.
Rhyll, as you might have guessed, is named after a town in North Wales. It is located on your right as you cross the bridge onto the island but you have to go down the main road a little before you turn.
Its aspect is over to French Island that lies to the north and it owes any prosperity it may have today to its sheltered position and access to the ocean which have made it a favourite for fishermen, both commercial and amateur. One of its claims to fame is that it has two jetties! Wow. There's also an angling club and, right on the foreshore, a boat business.
In addition there is a sailing club as well though Cowes, a couple of kilimetres away, is probably a little more popular for that sport.
The first Europeans were Bass and Flinders, on their epic voyage, who anchored off Rhyll in October 1798. Fort Dumaresq was briefly established here in 1826 before moving on to Corinella on the eastern shores of Westernport Bay.
Permanent European settlement of the locality commenced around 1856 and a jetty was built in 1868 for the exportation of fish and chicory.
The low-lying land surrounding Rhyll is partly a saltwater lagoon which attracts large numbers of migratory wading birds that fly thousands of kilometres to feed and breed at the inlet. There are colonies of royal spoonbills, straw-necked ibis, swans, little pied cormorants and the rare hooded plover. A boardwalk, which leads into the midst of the mudflats and mangroves, provides excellent bird watching opportunities and there is a wetland observation tower.
The island was then taken over by Gerald Buckley, the son of Mars Buckley, founder of the Melbourne store Buckley and Nunn. In 1976 it was bought by the Victorian Conservation Trust, part of the National Trust, and it is now part of, and managed by, the Phillip Island Nature Park.
Apart from the house, there are fragrant herb and flower gardens filled with exotic plants and a Norfolk pine planted by Amess in 1872 has now grown to over 25 metres with a girth of 4.5 metres. Also in his garden is a cannon from the famous historic US ship the Shenandoah (pic 4) which was given to Amess by the ship's officers in his appreciation of his hospitality when the Shenandoah visited Melbourne in 1865.
There are also historical displays, including a museum of old farming machinery and other pieces lying at selected places in the yard. The island is still a working farm with sheep, ducks, chickens, Clydesdale horses and, the main attraction, highland (Scottish) cows, pronounced coos if you’re in Scotland. There are ranger talks, machinery demonstrations and festivals throughout the year. The facilities took a giant leap forward with the opening of the new visitor building that also includes a café and upmarket toilets as well as all the usual paraphernalia.
Although only covering 57 hectares, this island off an island is a worthy stop. It is reached via a one lane concrete bridge just to the north-west of the hamlet of Newhaven. As recently as 1961 you had to take a longboat to get there. Access is from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. To see the historical buildings there is an entry fee, tel; (03) 5956 7214, but you can simply walk around the edge of the island at your leisure for free.
When George Bass and Matthew Flinders arrived in the area aboard the 25-ton sloop Norfolk (a replica of which is at Mount Gambier in South Australia) in 1798, they were on their epic voyage of discovery and many places on the southern coast of Australia still carry the names they allocated, though none remain here. Three years later (1801) Lieutenant James Grant constructed a simple cottage, probably on the eastern end of the island, and named the island after his friend, John Churchill, his seed supplier.
He planted corn, wheat and a small garden. This was the first European settlement in Victoria. Nine months later Lieutenant Murray visited the site and found the crops had grown to two metres in height. The island was subsequently abandoned.
In 1857 Samuel Pickersgill and his family inhabited the island. John Rogers took up residence in 1866, building two small cottages.
Six years later the island was purchased by Samuell Amess, a building contractor whose works include the post office, customs house and treasury buildings in Melbourne. He built a symmetrical weatherboard homestead (pic 4) with bay windows in 1872 and that is the residence that you see today, along with other outbuildings(pic 2).
I was charmed to see a lady doing her crocheting (pic 3) by the natural light of a window, just as would have been done over a century ago. She was quite friendly, as you'd expect, and we had an entertaining conversation on local matters for ten minutes that I found illuminating.