Guide to Australian Wilderness : Phillip Island

Adventure on Phillip Island – Penguins, Kangaroos, Koalas & Sheltered ‘Glamping’
Bonus: The Most Romantic Meal
Memoir 3
April 4, 2017

For us, a trip isn’t complete until we’ve seen wildlife and gone missing from civilization.  We peeled away from the food events and headed to a remote spot on Phillip Island – about 2 hours outside of Melbourne.  Our motto:  Why sleep in a 5 star luxury hotel when you can bring luxury to the wilderness?

We met this fella Randall via Air BnB who understood the type of experience we were looking for  – wilderness but luxury.  He runs The Sheltered Glamping Company off of Berry Beach Road on Phillip Island.  He’s set up hot showers, full washroom amenities, king pillow-top mattress (regular bed), security, electricity and warm tea/coffee in a beautifully curated tent – think bohemian-moroccan-style on a ranch with wallabies (small kangaroos) wandering through the camp site and cattle grazing on the hillside, right next to the ocean!

It was seriously dreamy and we were tempted to blow off the World’s 50 Best Awards Ceremony (the entire reason we went to Australia) to stay longer at this campsite.  We saw koala, wallabies and penguins, ate gourmet food in town and we were simply awestruck.

We awoke at 3 am to the sound and site of 4 tiny paws imprinted in the canvas ceiling as a critter (possum) traversed our tent’s canopy.  We rushed outside to greet him only to witness shooting stars! Getting chills as I write up this unforgettable adventure off the Bass Straight of the Indian Ocean in Victoria Australia.

Penguin Parade

Finally! A habitat where nature is free to roam and the people are caged.  Two conservation movements on Phillip Island benefit penguins and koalas. All creatures roam free in their natural habitat while humans are confined to specific areas to safely observe without causing damage or disturbances to the wildlife.  As we roamed the island on our own merit away from the conservations, wallaby hopped through our campsite and penguins were tucked away under boardwalks by the ocean doing whatever it is that penguins do.

We secured tickets to the Penguin Parade, a nightly ritual where hundreds of penguins return home from a day of fishing. Little penguins are native to Australia and they are the smallest of their species at just 33 centimeters. They leave their burrows about an hour before sunrise and swim up to 100 kilometers each day before returning at dusk. At dusk they rally in the ocean and team up together to cross back up the shore.

For a 2-hour period around sunset, guests are invited to sit ocean side at the Nature Park to watch penguins race up Summerland Beach back to their burrows.  Rules are strict, guests must be very quiet and photography is not permitted. The conservation provides complimentary photographs to prevent camera flashes from blinding and scaring the little creatures.  When the penguins arrive, they cross in groups of about 6-12 at a time. They wait for each other before walking ashore and have a certain sound they make to aid in finding one another in the dark. 

Koala & Wallaby (Small Kangaroo)
Strolling through another conservation area on the island, we came upon lots of sleepy koala. They are nocturnal creatures and since they don’t have enough calories to stay awake all day, they sleep in the cradles of trees by day (up to 20 hours) to conserve energy for nightly rituals (eating eucalyptus).

Wallaby bounce recklessly all around the island.  A family bounced through our campsite with a distinguished sound as their feet hit the ground and sprung back up again (like a cartoon Tigger with the coily tail springing into action). They crouch and stare then take off bouncing across the country side.  We snuck up on a couple of them to observe and try to take a few photographs, but they get spooked so easily and move so fast, it was virtually impossible to capture a decent photo. We managed to stay still long enough to watch this guy munching on some brush.

Australia is home to the deadliest critters on the entire planet, but we were fortunate to observe the docile, non threatening precious creatures in our own private little glamping-paradise.

Cuisine on Phillip Island
Our dinner at Isola di Capri on Phillip Island was the most romantic of the entire trip. The island barely had any guests as it was between busy seasons so we had the entire place to ourselves. We sat ocean side and enjoyed oysters prepared with bacon, caprese salad (tomatoes were in season), champagne, spaghetti carbonara and gelato.

Phillip Island was the most perfect vacation within a vacation. As per usual, we left Australia more in love with each other and life. There are no ordinary moments in life. We take it upon ourselves to put the magic into each fleeting moment. We are so humbled by this journey of a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

E & B Woodward

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