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Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Wokingham, United...
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Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Planning to go to Phillip Island from Melbourne on Sunday Feb 14th, and we'll already have a hire car so that's what we'll use.

I was expecting to find a nice leisurely route down there, arrive sometime in the afternoon, pay the entrance fee and go in (basic entry only, no Penguin Plus, Skybox, etc). But I note that the official site says "advance booking essential", even for the basic Penguin Parade. Is this true, or are they just drumming up more custom? The website also says "help celebrate the Chinese New Year at PI" on the 14th - not sure how much difference that will make? (And I've just realised it's Valentine's Day as well!)

Any advice welcome.

East Gippsland
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1. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Well it does say on the web site that bookings are ESSENTIAL, but what happens if people are not working on a computer? Don't think you have to state a particular time that you will be visiting but the gates are open at 10 am. so you could spend all day browsing in that area.

As for the Chinese New Year there does not seem to be any particular event listed, just a message to visit PI.

But there is an event on 13 Feb - a BIG Swim at Cowes, so there will be a few people around for that . .

I'd suggest you arrive early enough before sunset to be in the swim of sitting your ..um on seats before the large coaches arrive . Take along some reading material, fish and chips and water or other drink of choice and relax a bit more after your leisurely drive. Of course there is the shop to check out as well so that will take a bit of time.

You could chance it and go to the Info Centre to book and buy your entrance fee well before the event, say 1 or 2 pm.

Mission Viejo...
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2. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

We visited last July....we are budget-conscious travelers but also want a good value. I recommend Penguins Plus; it was well worth the additional cost. The standard admission means you wait in a huge herd of people at the visitor center. When the doors open the "people parade" goes to several large sets of grandstands. The night we were there I estimate there were several thousand people. I believe it's first-come, first-serve for good seats, if you are on the upper tiers of the stands it's a fairly distant and high view.

The "Plus" option involves a much smaller group (approx. 200). The viewing area is much smaller and the farthest seats are about 40 feet from the action. It's on a separate section of beach. Oh, you also get a free drink from the snack bar!

Wokingham, United...
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3. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Thanks folks.

gardenboffin, that looks like a good plan (and useful to know about the swim the day before). But seeing kenish's reply, perhaps we'll "splash out" on Penguins Plus...

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

I am not sure about bookings but I would suggest you call the Penguin Parade Centre to ask about it as you don't want to miss out but they are busier over the weekends so it's something to look into .

As for opening times: the centre is open from 10am but this is just the centre (food, souvineers, displays etc) The actual gate to the beach is not open until 7pm the earliest & it is written on the ticket to aim to arrive at the beach around 7.45pm.

If you want to see the penguins up close, you have to get there at 7pm & choose a good seat. The problem is that the penguins do not come out till 9pm! We waited 2 hours for them but we had a GREAT view and it was worth it. I think you should take some food and coffee (or buy from the kiosk) and enjoy the wait. We went general admission but I would recommend the upgraded tickets as less people, less waiting etc

Also, bear in mind that the penguins come out at different times, depending on the seasons, so best check with the centre again. Also, take a blanket to sit on as the seats are concrete. It can also get cold so take a cardigan etc.

Enjoy! It's a lot of fun!

Phillip Island...
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5. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Great advice from GardenBoffin about the Cowes Classic swim on the Saturday 13th Feb. It will be busy when this event is on (a swim & run that starts at 2pm in Cowes). As it was last week when the Channel Challenge swim was on at San Remo.

It's also worthwhile checking what's on at the Grand Prix track when planning visits down here so you don't coincide with events like the Superbike World Champs that are on Feb 26th this year. As it's always choccas when these events are on.

phillipislandcircuit.com.au/uploads/CALENDAR…

I would suggest pre booking your tickets if that what the website states. It's the safest bet.

Enjoy your trip :-)

Wokingham, United...
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6. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Thanks for all the advice, folks. Just to wrap this up, now that we've been and come back home -

In the end we pre-booked and went for Penguins Plus. Glad we did, it was a much more "intimate experience".

Driving there and back on the same day was quite hassle-free. After reading some reports, I was worried we'd be crashing into other road-users and wildlife returning to Melbourne at night; but it was pretty clear all the way back.

The Australia Garden at Cranbourne was a good stop-off on the way out. The gardens themselves are still a "work in progress", but you can wander round the extensive surrounding park and get some good views out to Gippsland and the Yarra Ranges.

East Gippsland
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7. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

Hi jeff, so glad you enjoyed your day and especially that you stopped at the Australian Garden.

Thanks for posting and look forward to a trip report of your whole visit.

Mission Viejo...
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8. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

jeff- Good you had a great experience and glad you felt Penguins Plus was worth the "up charge".

9. Re: Phillip Island by car: need to pre-book ?

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