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DINGEE TO PHILLIP ISLAND – Wine Bars and nesting Penguins

30 May 2024


With bellies full of much too much Xmas lunch we hit the road and headed towards Phillip Island aiming to check out a freecamp in Loch. Being a busy time of year we hadn’t thought to book accommodation in advance and freecamps down south are a bit scarce. Loch had been recommended on a Facebook group and was just under an hour from Phillip Island. 

We turned off the highway and drove through the most gorgeous countryside admiring the green lush grass in comparison to the dry brown drive down from Qld. Winding down the country roads we came to the freecamp, drove in and drove out. Quite a big disappointment with the drive in, we thought we were onto a winner. 

With broken abandoned tents and rubbish everywhere, it really was a sad sight indeed and we needed somewhere we could leave the van for the day to explore so we backtracked to what looked like showgrounds just down the road. 

With an honesty box system and tons of room, we found a beautiful elevated spot under some gorgeous trees overlooking the oval, the kids had room to run, kick the ball and had a playground across the way. 

Only $20 for an unpowered site, $25 for power, we stayed for two nights and ventured down to Phillip Island to check it all out. 

Phillip Island was a lot bigger than we thought so we stopped at the Info Centre to plan our day. Unfortunately the Penguin Parade was booked out for two days so have put it on our list for when we come back around heading to Tassie. We visited Amaze n Things, full of magic, crazy mirrors, visual deception and a maze, we all had a ball. Next stop was Nobbies Point where we got to stretch our legs and walk the boardwalks admiring the stunning coastline. Much to our surprise we found penguins nesting, so good after we thought we had missed them completely. 

We headed into the township of Cowes as we had a thong blowout and we needed ice cream, being Xmas the town was bustling. Checking out the waterfront for coffee, they had markets on and the pier was full of teenagers jumping off. We would love to go back to the island in off-peak as it would be a great place to camp and ride our bikes. 

Back at camp we decided we deserved to eat out finding a great wine, pizza and tapas bar in the Loch Village township, filling our faces and following their little red car on insta as it makes its way around the country too. 

One of the highlights for us was Puffing Billy, with its open carriages and stunning Dandenong Range views, we hung out the side all the way from Belgrave to Lakeside not able to wipe the smiles off our faces, we walked around the lake and had lunch. You could easily spend the whole day discovering hidden gems throughout the countryside. A 3 hour round trip, with everyone waving at you as the train goes past, it was well worth the money spent and we would highly recommend it to anyone coming to this area. 

We left heading towards the Great Ocean Road, lucky enough to be crashing at a friends place for a few nights to enjoy New Years on the coast. Having a couch to snooze on and long hot showers was awesome but after venturing into Melbourne and checking out the coastal towns we were all peopled out and now planning on heading into the Great Otway National Park for a few nights to decompress. 

The coast is super busy this time of year and knowing what we know now we would recommend: 

  1. Booking accommodation and activities that you really don’t want to miss out on in advance is a great idea. 
  1. Doing a city visit would probably be more enjoyable with a sleepover in the city, definitely a couple days of stuff to do in Melbourne. In saying that public transport is awesome and we loved jumping on the free trams. 
  1. Going into little townships along the way you will find little gems and the best people. 

Next we are super excited to be heading into the Great Otway National Park to freecamp and enjoy having no phone reception for a few days! Bring on nature!