When in Melbourne or any other Victorian city, travelling to the nearby coastal islands is always on the list. Philip Island and French Island are two such places which can serve your travelling purpose.
Bigger of the two, the French island is just a 30 minutes away from the smaller island of Philip. Famous for its national parks, French Island has a permanent population of around 80 (maximum of 100).
The only way to reach French Island is by public transportation ferries. Home for over 100 species of Orchids, the island has a magnificent flora and fauna species.
About 70 percent of the land is part of the national park which includes the mangrove eco-system and salt marshes along the coast. As most of the island is a national park, animal and bird sighting possibilities are greater. The diversified birds and plant species provides a better platform for photography.
Hiking, trekking, camping and bicycling are popular amid the natural ambience. The region is also known worldwide as ‘the home’ of Koalas. Sambur Deer, Water Rats, a rare species of long-nosed Potoroo, Rat Kangaroo, etc stay in harmony with the special Koalas. Together with these animals, white breasted eagles, ibis, pelican etc are also seen on the island canvas. So if you are planning to spend some time in the natural atmosphere, French Island is the place to be. However, if planning for an overnight stay, carry your tents and camping gears as no lodging facility is available here.
Just to the south of French Island, the smaller Philip Island is situated; it has larger population due to some major attraction regions. The scenic coastal island is quite close to the city of Melbourne and just takes around 90 minutes to reach here. Compared to the bigger French Island, the number of activities offered here are high. As a fun holiday destination, the island offers Penguin parade and Seal rocks. Every sunset witnesses a parade of wild Penguins on the beach. It is one of the largest penguin colonies in the world.
The Nobbies center which is located in the same area of the Penguin parade showcases the Australian fur Seals and other marine diversity of the southern Australian region. The timings of the center differ from season to season but are mainly open from around 10.30am up till 5.30pm. The Koala conservation center is also a place where you can see a colony of Australian Koala. The seal rock is another major tourist attraction point. It houses around 16,000 Australian fur seals. The best time to visit seal rocks is from October to December.
Apart from this, outdoor activities like wildlife coast cruises, golf, kayaking, surfing, and other water sports are also administered in this region. The Philip Island is also popular for its Moto GP circuit where the Australian Moto GP event is organized every year. Accommodation here is no problem as on French Island. One can easily find fine boarding options everywhere in the vicinity.
A weekend trip to this part of Australian can alter your busy schedule and make you feel relaxed from the daily hectic life. A visit between October and December is highly recommended to enjoy the nature around you.