Cowes is the principal town on Phillip Island, the popular resort and wildlife sanctuary which guards the entrance to Western Port to the south of Melbourne. The island is linked to the mainland by a bridge connecting San Remo and the gateway to Phillip, Newhaven. Set on the islandís protected northern shoreline, Cowes is blessed with attractive beaches which are perfectly safe for children and the obligatory jetty is a favourite perch for fishermen.
The islandís major crowd-pullers are the waddling penguins which parade nightly on their return from a dayís fishing to their rookery above Summerland Beach, 13km to the south-west of Cowes. A colony of fur seals has long held sovereignty on Seal Rocks off the islandís southern tip and you can get acquainted with koalas, wombats and kangaroos in their natural habitat in the Wildlife Park.
And, of course, the island is home to a spectacular motor-racing track which is the traditional home of the Australian motor-cycle grand prix in October.
In the area
Summerland Beach - for the nightly penguin parade
Seal Rocks - to see colonies of fur seals and short-tailed shearwaters (October to April)
Phillip Island Wildlife Park - fauna in natural surroundings
Koala Conservation Centre - with boardwalk for better viewing
Rhyll Swamp - bird sanctuary
Phillip Island Vineyard & Winery - on Berry's Beach for tastings and dining
Grand Prix Circuit and Visitors Centre - Back Beach Rd
A Maze N' Things - a timber maze and optical illusions
Australian Dairy Centre - Newhaven, with museum and cheese factory
Wildlife Wonderland - near San Remo, with the Giant Earthworm Museum and Wombat World
Visitors Information Centre - 895 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven