Motorcycle fanatics know it as the home of the MotoGP race but Phillip Island is a leading year-round Victorian attraction with accommodation options ranging from caravans and camping to the pinnacle of boutique luxury. Whatever your speed, it’s a great place to experience nature in the wild. From the famous Penguin Parade to the powder-soft beaches fronting the rugged beauty of Bass Strait, the thriving seal colony of Seal Rocks and the shearwaters of Cape Woolamai, it’s a location guaranteed to recharge the batteries – with the help of local cafes, restaurants and gelaterias.
Where to stay
It’s a beloved spot for family-friendly camping and caravanning but Phillip Island hasn’t always conjured five-star indulgence. Now, at Five Acres, only 10 minutes drive from the main township of Cowes, three luxury timber cabins sit among the micro-farm’s fruit trees and serene cattle, with an outlook that takes in rolling pastures and the waters of Western Port Bay. The contemporary boltholes are built for two and tailor-made for hiding away, with a cosy wood fire and a bathtub on the private deck.
Where to eat
M & O Cafe and Tapas
Hit this bustling spot, directly opposite the main beach, for all-day breakfasts that go the extra mile, whether it’s the Scoville-scale hit of chilli scrambled eggs with dukkah or the sticky salted-caramel sauce that anoints banana bread French toast. Weekend evenings see the switch flicked to a punchy tapas menu.
The Cape Kitchen
Arresting clifftop views over wild Bass Strait almost distract from the smart modern menu built around regional produce at this sleek dining room. Beef carpaccio with celeriac remoulade and caper speckled cured salmon bring Mediterranean flair to a leisurely lunch.
Isola Di Capri
Phillip Island’s oldest Italian restaurant remains its finest, with a timeless whitewashed dining room and focus on the classics, from calamari fritti and spaghetti carbonara to a best-in-show margherita pizza. Après-meal, pop next door to its gelateria for a double scoop.
This rustic one-stop gourmet shop will get your pulse racing with beans from local roaster Folks Coffee before nudging you towards food bliss with brunch fare such as a spicy tuna melt oozing cheddar and jazzed up with jalapeños.
Wild Food Farm
Walk the bush food trail at this lush property near Rhyll before furthering your exploration of Indigenous ingredients with the wattleseed scones, native-berry beef pies and barramundi with finger lime aïoli served at the farmhouse café.
The best thing to do: Visit the penguins
A $58-million development has seen the new visitors’ centre at the Penguin Parade reopen in striking style, the geometric pavilion nestled sympathetically into the landscape. Check out state-ofthe-art interpretive displays (including an immersive Antarctic exploration), join the crowds on the beachfront bleachers to watch thousands of little penguins waddling home to their burrows each evening or treat yourself to an exclusive ranger-guided tour where night-vision scopes will take you to the heart of the penguin colony.