Phillip Island

Phillip Island, Vic

Cowes Jetty, French Island in the distance

Phillip Island at the entrance of Western Port (Bay) has a history of fishing, sealing and chicory production. Today it is cattle grazing and tourism. The population is around 12,000 and it is only 140kms south of Melbourne via the San Remo bridge. Thus, the island is a popular summer destination for Melbourne families as holiday houses and surf beaches abound. International tourists are attracted to the Motorcycle Grand Prix and the wildlife. The nightly march of the fairy penguins as they surf in with the waves and waddle up the beach to their burrows. The fur seals that are easy to spot lolling about on Seal Rocks and koalas of course can be seen in the crooks of the gums. 

The north side of the island and home to the largest town, Cowes, is a languid coast with quiet sandy beaches and views to the much larger French Island and the mainland. Whereas the south coast is wildly rugged with stunning yet treacherous beaches that take lives all too regularly.

The jetty at Rhyll
The beach at Cowes
Pelicans at Newhaven
Woolamai Surf Beach

Naming of the region: George Bass named the island in 1798 in honour of Governor Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales. The explorational voyage of George Bass down the east coast from Port Jackson (Sydney) to Western Port in an open whaleboat is a feat to be admired. Bass named Bass Strait and Western Port his westernmost find on this voyage. French Island to the north was named Ile de Francais in 1802 by a French scientific expedition.

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