With its sandy beaches, windswept bluffs, and miles of rugged walking trails, Cape Woolamai is a place to unwind and simply get back to nature. Stretched across the southeastern corner of scenic Phillip Island, Cape Woolamai is a popular getaway for surfers, birdwatchers, and hikers. On the western stretch, Woolamai Beach has some of the best surfing in the entire state of Victoria, whereas the eastern stretch is covered in sand dunes just a short walk from town. Woolamai Beach is part of the Phillip Island Surfing Reserve and home to a popular lifesaving club, and granite cliffs provide a rugged backdrop to the wide, golden sands. Atop the bluff, a system of walking tracks leads to the highest point on all of Phillip Island, and while it’s only a moderate 370 feet, the viewpoint provides a panoramic vista looking back towards the Australian mainland.
One of nature’s most humbling aspects is the indifference towards human existence. Whether us humans were here or not, waves would still crash, sunsets would still glow, and hundreds of clumsy Little Penguins would storm Phillip Island at sunset. Of all the Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Penguin Parade is inarguably the most popular due to this evening show. Each night at dusk, hundreds of these penguins waddle up the beach to rest and feed their young, and since 32,000 of the Little Penguins live on Phillip Island, it’s believed to be the largest colony of the world’s smallest penguin. Arrive early and have a drink at the coastal penguin café, or tour the informative visitor center to learn about the curious critters. As dusk approaches, make your way towards the multi-tiered seating and keep your eyes on the shoreline, and when the first penguin comes rolling ashore and shakes the water of its back, it will soon be followed by hundreds more as they shake, waddle, and roll.
Only 90 minutes from the teeming streets of modern, fast-paced Melbourne, Phillip Island is known for its wildlife and scenic, rural shores. The fact that the island has remained so wild is in large part due to the Phillip Island Nature Parks that preserve, protect—and importantly, promote—the island’s wildlife wealth. Though the parks are commercial enterprises that charge admission fees to visit, all of the money goes directly back into wildlife conservation.
The Phillip Island Nature Parks cover 4,460 acres and include the Koala Conservation Center, The Nobbies Center, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and the famous Penguin Parade. The organization also manages conservation areas such as Pyramid Walk and Cape Woolamai, where the rugged nature of the island’s coastline impresses with every turn.
It looks like something from a movie script; a large, stone, skull shaped rock rising halfway up from a deeply blue sea off an isolated stretch of coast. This isn’t some villain’s lair, however, but a famous rock off Wilson’s Promontory on Victoria’s southern coast. This rugged peninsula is the southernmost point on the entire Australian mainland, and when surfing, hiking, or camping on “the Prom,” Cleft Island silently looms like a haunting skull offshore. To add to the rock’s mysterious allure, it’s believed that only a handful of people have ever set foot on the rock. The cliffs on all sides are dozens of feet high, and an enormous cave the size of a building consumes the center of the rock. For as foreboding as it appears on the surface, however, Skull Rock is a diver’s paradise on the granite walls below.