A few of our friends mentioned Phillip Island as a great day trip to take from Melbourne. Chris and I were hesitant to rent a car and drive there ourselves and decided to book a private tour. I found this particular tour through Viator. The entire day was incredible. Chris kept comparing it to a Bachelor one-on-one date!
To be honest, this tour had me sold at “Penguin Parade,” but here is the full description:
- Private tour (2 pm – approx. 10 pm)
- Round-trip private transfer from your Melbourne City or Phillip Island lodging
- 2-course dinner with wine
- Wine tasting with local cheeses
- Bottled water
- WiFi in all vehicles (⇐ amazing)
- Penguins Plus premium seating
- Qualified and knowledgeable guide
- Food and drinks, unless specified
- Gratuities (optional)
- Entry to Moonlit Sanctuary (optional; AUD$40.00)
- Entrance fees not mentioned in the itinerary
Our guide picked us up promptly at 2 pm. He asked us right away if we’d be interested in stopping at Moonlit Sanctuary (not included) and explained we could upgrade our entry ticket there to include snuggling with a koala. Um, yep. Definitely interested in that. Who would ever turn that upgrade down?!
We proceeded with our scenic drive to Moonlit Sanctuary – our first stop of the day.
The sanctuary was on the smaller side and wasn’t crowded at all. We purchased our entry and upgraded to include the koala encounter. Then, we obviously purchased two bags of kangaroo food as soon as they mentioned we could feed them. Again, who would turn that down?!
I mean – how cool is this day and it just started?! On to the next stop…
Driving into this winery was breathtaking. As you can see in the photo below, the rolling hills just kept rolling! Beautiful.
Bass Valley Estate is family owned and operated. The winery matriarch hosted our private tasting that took place in an old milking barn! She was very pleasant to chat with and had a nice arrangement of Australian cheeses to go along with the five different wines we sampled. We purchased three different bottles!
Travel Tip! In Australia, you can carry-on wine when flying domestically!
Moving right along…
Dinner time. We were set up with a nice table by the windows. Per our tour arrangement, we were allotted a 2 course meal. The bartender suggested we order one appetizer, two main dishes, and one dessert to get the most out of our deal. The food was decent, but the dessert really stood out. We ordered smashed lemon merengue. Yum.
We progressed through our day a little quicker than planned, so our guide took us to see the Nobbies before heading to the Penguin Parade. The rugged coastline was gorgeous.
On our way to and from the Nobbies, we spotted SO many wild wallabies! How many can you find in my picture below?
And now, what we’ve all been waiting for….
The Penguin Parade!
Every single night over a thousand little penguins (literally their name) come back to Phillip Island after their long day of fishing. They wait until dusk to avoid predators. There is a free Penguin Parade App that you can download to tell you approximately when the penguins will arrive each night.
The entrance is through the gift shop. I found it slightly annoying to have to fight through the crowded gift shop to get to where we needed to be. It’s a complete tourist trap. However, it is pretty awesome and worth the annoyances.
We had upgraded Penguin Plus seating included in our tour. I wish there was an even more upgraded seating area as this area was still a bit over crowded. There is a VIP viewing area in a skybox, but you aren’t as physically close to the penguins as you are in Penguin Plus.
The most annoying thing of all – no photography! I realize flash photography could really disorient the penguins, but if you aren’t using a flash and have a nice DSLR camera I don’t see what the big deal is. Chris and I were SO lucky because a group of penguins arrived unexpectedly before it got dark and we were allowed to snap a few photos.
But… I snuck a video. The quality is less than ideal. However, you can clearly see how clumsy and adorable little penguins are. Enjoy!