A 90 minute drive south east of Melbourne is beautiful Phillip Island. It has been made popular with a rich history of motorsports and of course the very cute little penguins that call it home. The Island was full of surprises and we were able to jam pack a week full of different activities. So that we could get the most out of the Island we based ourselves at the Big 4 caravan park. It was a great park with heaps of facilities to keep our stay very comfortable and was great value for money.
Phillip Island is known for its motorsports events that it hosts throughout the year, from V8 racing cars to the Phillip Island Motorbike Gran Pix held every October long weekend and attracts motorbike fans from around the world. We all agreed that we needed to visit the race track where these great events occur. What a treat for the boys, as you walk in the front doors you are greeted by a display on Peter Brock and a history of his racing days. But that’s not where the history lesson ends. There is a diversely stocked museum that you can wonder through and learn about the history of the track from its concept through to the modern day. There is race memorabilia from the 1930’s right up to current posters, photos and displays. This includes full sized models\actual displays of race cars, motorcycles and race outfits. There are information boards and photos as well as old race programs. After learning the history of the track you can then walk outside into the landscaped garden of waterways and shady trees to grab the best view of the track. For those that love the thrill of racing you can even have a go on the largest slot car set in Australia which is a scaled replica of the track itself. Up to 4 people can have a go and race each other. In our family it was Cooper who won the race and we all had great fun trying to beat each other. There is also a gift shop and café- so take your wallet (you will need it). The Gran Pix track is a must for all those who have a little “rev-head” spirit in them.
It was time for me (Jane) to choose the activity and our next attraction and of course I couldn’t miss out on Panny’s Amazing Chocolate Factory. At the front of the factory is a display of Little Penguins made completely out of chocolate including the sand. We then went on a tour through the factory where we learnt the history of chocolate and the process of making chocolate. As you walk through the many displays you are treated to very clever displays including a mosaic of Dame Edna made completely of chocolate truffles, a solid chocolate sauté of David as well as many interactive displays throughout the factory from penguins that give you chocolate and games where you can win chocolate prizes. We all loved the fact that Willy Wonka had a chocolate waterfall in his factory so what “proper” chocolate factory would be complete without their very own. (I just wanted to hold my head underneath). With over 400kg of chocolate flowing every 3 minutes it was a great display. We stopped to have a family photo taken in chocolate land which was pretty cool.
As you finish the tour you can make patterns out of chocolate (yes you do get to keep and take home if it lasts that long).There is also a machine that for a small cost you can design and make your own chocolate bar- your very own creation!. There is a great gift shop so you can stock up on all the different types of chocolates or sit and relax in the café with a hot chocolate and a home cooked meal not to mention the sweet cakes and truffles you can have. Another place where you will need to take a pretty healthy wallet!
The next activity the kids got to choose and they picked “A-Mazing”. We all had a great time with its mind bending displays that tested our brain power to solve problems. The “gravity room” that just bent your understanding of how things appear and demonstrated the wonders of illusion (I did get a little sick in this room to Cooper’s amusement). Then we had to find our way through a mirror maze and to finish our visit we had to find our way to four coloured flags in the giant outdoor maze. After we had a play in the outdoor play area and watch some people have a go at the mini golf course it was time to head home.
The next day we headed to the Rhyll Trout Farm to try our hand at fishing for Rainbow Trout. We were all set up with rods and bait (we could have used our own rods but we hired from the farm), then off to the outdoor pond. We were given a short lesson on how to catch a fish then our guide left us to have fun. After a while with no luck in the outdoor pond, we moved to the indoor pond and within minutes of throwing a line in the pond Cooper had caught the first fish, then Anthony landed one and then Cooper again. I wasn’t having any luck, so I said one more cast then that’s it. Sure enough I landed a fish. The farm cleaned them for us ready to cook at home. We cooked 2 on the BBQ up and smoked the others in our meats smoker. They were very yummy!
Phillip Island is well known for being the home of the “Little Penguin”. So we just had to see these cute creatures. The Penguin Parade happens every night at sunset. After having a look around the gift shop, we headed down the boardwalk past the burrows with little chicks in them waiting for their parents to come. It was very busy with tourists as expected. It wasn’t long before the penguins began to walk up the beach to their burrows. They came in different groups and before long it was time to wander the boardwalks and watch the parents find their way to their babies. Listening to them talk to each other and the babies trying to bully other penguins into given them some food. It seemed to happen too quickly and soon it was time to head home. It was great to see these cute animals do what they have done for years with little interference.
Overall we had a great time on Phillip Island and the Big 4 caravan park with its playground, games room, jumping pillow, outdoor movies and a great camp kitchen mad our stay even more comfortable. It was sad to leave but the open road was calling again.