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Behind The Experience Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island is a two hour drive from Melbourne situated on Victoria's south east coast. Filled with plenty of family friendly activities, stunning nature walks, daily visits from Penguins and the host of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the island is a great day trip option from Melbourne.

A visit to the Phillip Island Nature Park is one of the top things to do in Melbourne giving visitors the opportunity to explore the coastal landscapes and natural trails while learning about the iconic wildlife that inhabit the island. The nature park houses the Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre, the Koala Reserve, Churchill Island and the famous Penguin Parade which draws crowds from all over the world.

The amazing Phillip Island Penguin Parade is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness Little Penguins in their natural habitat as they waddle up Summerland Beach to the safety of their homes nestled into the sand dunes. Guests can also enjoy a front row seat to a stunning sunset while they wait for the stars of the nature show to arrive.

This week we speak with Sophie Winter from Phillip Island Nature Parks and we’ve got to say, we are a little envious of her job working at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade.

Behind The Experience: Phillip Island Nature Parks | Experience Oz

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you love most about your role

My name is Sophie and I have been with Phillip Island Nature Parks for just over 1.5 years now. In that time, I’ve moved from being a Parade Ranger working solely at our penguin parade; to a Visitor Experience Ranger guiding tours across all Nature Parks sites; to, more recently, joining the Marketing team. I have learnt so much in such a short time and love many aspects of my job, but I’d have to say the best part is knowing I’m working for an organisation that works to protect nature for wildlife and inspire people to act.

Behind The Experience: Phillip Island Nature Parks | Experience Oz

2. What does the average day look like for you?

Every day is slightly different when you work for an organisation like the Nature Parks, which is one of the reasons I love my job so much. Before the COVID-19 crisis began, an average day would have involved guiding a small group of guests around the island; telling them about the history and conservation achievements of the areas we visited.

I would then leave those guests and head to our main star attraction, the penguin parade, to share stories about Little penguins while watching hundreds of them swim from the ocean and climb up the cliffs. Commonly with gorgeous sunset views and sparkly milky way skies. It really doesn’t feel like work at all!

3. When you aren’t welcoming visitors, where is your favourite place to holiday in Australia?

That’s a tough one! I love exploring new places so rarely visit the same place twice (unless I’m heading home to my family in Queensland). I bought a campervan two years ago which has allowed me to travel slowly and see many beautiful coastal and inland towns on Australia’s east coast. My top three spots were probably Cairns, Airlie Beach & Newcastle. I hope to make my way around the rest of Australia in years to come.

4. Can you share with us a hidden gem or two that you like to visit on Phillip Island?

Forrest Caves is the most magical place, especially in the summertime. On a low tide, you can walk through these incredible sea caves that formed by erosion of cliffs millions of years ago. It also has beautiful (though wild) surf and if you stay past sunset, you’ll catch the resident short-tailed shearwater birds flying overhead to their burrows in the dunes.

Behind The Experience: Phillip Island Nature Parks | Experience Oz

5. Finally, why do Australians need to put the Phillip Island Nature Parks on their bucket list?

So many reasons! Millowl, also known as Phillip Island, has some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Phillip Island Nature Parks works hard to care for and revegetate the natural environment they manage, and the native species that call it home appreciate this. Visiting any of our sites allows people to experience nature in all its glory. Oh, and we have the world’s biggest colony of Little penguins – definitely bucket list worthy.

The opportunity to encounter Penguins in their natural habitat is a must-do Phillip Island experience and one of the top things to do in Melbourne.

If you haven’t explored Phillip Island then perhaps it's time to waddle on in. Make a day of it with a Phillip Island Nature Park Pass giving you entry to the Penguin Parade, Koala Reserve, Churchill Island and the Antarctic Journey to experience all that the park has to offer.

Book Your Phillip Island Nature Park Pass Here