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Phillip Island for families

Thursday, October 7, 2010
It seems all the Getaway presenters enjoyed happy family holidays when they were growing up. Dermott Brereton has lots of memories of Phillip Island, and it's a place he has taken his own children to build their own memories.

There are countless things to do on the island. Good swimming and surfing beaches, great food and wine, history and heritage, gorgeous penguins and the odd grand prix.

Koala Conservation Centre

Underneath all the fun things, there is something very important happening. Koala conservation.

In the 1970s there were thousands of koalas on the island. Now there are 33 in the Conservation Centre and fewer than 40 living outside.

The centre is responsible for helping preserve the remaining population and Dermott spoke with ranger Daniel Andrews. While it's not a place for pictures holding cuddly koalas, you will see them face-to-face in their natural environment on a stroll through a eucalypt woodland. Koala Eco-explorer Tours provide behind-the-scenes information about one of Australia's favourite creatures. It has a very important breeding program.

From treetop boardwalks you will get a close look at dear old Mareekee who is 17 — that's close to 100 in human years — and her friends. This year's joeys can be seen taking their first adventures out of their mothers' pouches.

Silverwater Resort

High in the hills across seven hectares overlooking Port Phillip Bay, Silverwater has plenty of room for families and lots to keep them amused. There are 170 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and hotel-style rooms. There are cooking facilities, and barbecue packs are available.

Some rooms have balconies and there are gardens and rural landscapes for everyone to enjoy.

There's an indoor-outdoor restaurant, cafe, bar and function area. A heated indoor lap pool can be used year-round, and there's a solar-heated freeform outdoor pool. Spa pool, steam room and gym, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, billiards and table tennis are all there to enjoy.

Children are well taken care of. During holidays there are movie nights, art and craft sessions and cooking lessons. There are also special menus for little ones.

Panny's Chocolate Factory

Enter chocolatier Panny Letchumanan's amazing factory and sample one of his signature chocolates — maybe a white truffle — and you won't want to leave. In a room of chocolate you get to see the process from bean to bar. In another room, which has buttons and levers, you can create your very own flavours.

There are chocolate statues of famous people from Michelangelo to Dame Edna. Play on machines where you can win chocolate and be the train driver in a miniature chocolate village. There are surprises and chocolate quizzes and it seems no end to fun to be had in this sweet destination. Can you imagine Vegemite white chocolate? When Dermott saw the 4m chocolate waterfall he was tempted to hop in, but showed restraint.

Panny's has a cafe with a menu of amazing chocolate desserts and a retail outlet so you can stock up.

Related videos: Best beaches in Victoria, and Melbourne to Lorne drive


Phillip Island, two hours from Melbourne.


Koala Centre entry is $10.60 for adults and $5.30 for children. It's $26.50 for a family of two adults and two children. The centre opens at 10am.

Silverwater Resort rooms start at $175 a night. Check their website for packages which include many of Phillip Island's attractions.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Melbourne from:

  • Adelaide $79
  • Hobart $85
  • Sydney $90
  • Canberra $99
  • Brisbane $129
  • Darwin $179
  • Perth $245

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at October 7, 2010, and are subject to change.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

The Koala Centre
Phillip Island Road
Cowes 3922
Ph: (03) 5951 2800

Silverwater Resort
17 Potters Hill Road
San Remo 3925
Ph: (03) 5671 9399

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
930 Phillip Island Road
Newhaven 3925
Ph: (03) 5956 6600
Fax: (03) 5956 767

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