A few months ago, out of the blue one of my cousins whom I’d not seen since I was a child contacted me to let me know that she’d be in Melbourne over father’s day weekend and wanted to reconnect. We both have babies. Her baby is 5 months (Archer) and our son Charlie is 19 months. This was to be Charlie’s second little trip away.
We agreed to go to Phillip Island to see the Fairy Penguins, Amaze ‘N’ Things and Panny’s Chocolate Factory and would stay at a caravan park for cheap accommodation with a playground for Charlie.
Saturday 3rd of September
We were meant to go to Swimming lessons beforehand but had to skip it as we realised it would delay what we could do during the day and also make Charlie extra tired later on. We stopped at the local 7-11 near our house to try something new from their new deli sandwich range. Kayla and I split a Mac and Cheese sandwich and it was really good, though was effectively carbs on carbs.
Our first destination, Wonthaggi was about 2 hours away and we managed to get there without stopping at all along the way. Charlie slept most of the way and Kayla and I played road trip games where we went through the alphabet trying to name examples of things for various categories starting with each letter of the alphabet. Charlie was quite well-behaved.
We arrived at 12:30 pm, our goal was to check out all the op shops and other second-hand stores. They have a lot of those. We parked at the Big W as I’m on the hunt for the newest Masters of the Universe toys which are only sold there and at Toy World stores. I didn’t find anything new, but I found a cool set of Blue’s Clues figures for Charlie. We’ve been watching a lot of that lately. It included Blue, Magenta, Josh, Pail & Shovel.
We then checked out The Wonthaggi Market, which I think may have been a consignment store. Here I found Charlie a vintage Wiggles Golden Book for $4.
We next went to Ramalama Book Exchange which is a massive secondhand bookshop. We bought a few books here including a 50-cent Bluey book and a few vintage Goosebumps books that I don’t think I have for about $3 each.
After that, we went towards the main street and went to Vinnies Wonthaggi, but didn’t buy anything. We saw several other op shops nearby but they all closed at 2 pm or were not open on weekends and it was now just after 2 pm.
We had a bit of trouble finding anywhere open for lunch as everything seemed to close at 2 pm in this town. We eventually found food at Redgie’s cafe outside the Big W where we parked. We got schnitzel sandwiches and whilst we were waiting I went to the Dan Murphy bottle shop nearby to get some drinks for us later that night.
After we’d eaten, we got back in the car. Charlie, having previously spent 2 hours in the car was not happy about getting back into the car, as he thought it was going to be another 2-hour trip, but luckily it was much shorter. I drove us to our accommodation at NRMA Caravan Park Cowes, Phillip Island. There was a big trailer in the check-in car park so I parked outside the next available parking area, which happened to be our cabin which was opposite my cousin’s cabin. This was very convenient.
My cousin Rachelle and Archer came across to say hi whilst Kayla was sorting out the key. Charlie was still asleep in the back. Archer was very inquisitive! Once Kayla came back from the office, she met Rachelle and Archer for a bit and then we went to our room to unpack.
Our accommodation at NRMA Cowes, Phillip Island
We had a double-room cabin with a kitchenette and bathroom.
Whilst Charlie, Kayla and I all slept in the double bed together, the second bedroom which had 4 singles (2 bunk beds) was a convenient place for us to store our luggage and to change Charlie’s nappies.
At some point during the night, Charlie ended up upside down and Kayla pulled the blanket over his head and it upset him a lot.
I like that they wrap all the blankets so that they’re clean, so it’s easy for the cleaners to know what has been used and what hasn’t.
The TV station was weird, it had Netflix and other streaming apps, but there was only limited internet per device, so after a few episodes of Bluey, we had to watch other random stuff I’d bought off iTunes ages ago.
There was also a shower in here. Boy was this tight.
Phillip Island Penguin Parade
I don’t know, but I was very impressed with the facilities here. It had been many years since I’d been and though I don’t recall much from past trips. it was clear they’d redone the centre since I’d last been.
Archer is a Good Boy
Archer was far more chilled in his Big Bird onesie.
In the morning whilst packing up in the morning, Charlie was desperate to go outside. He loved running around the caravan park, I eventually got to get him into the entertainment and gaming room.
I didn’t have any coins on me, so we didn’t play anything but we watched some kids playing Time Crisis or something similar and Charlie walked around on the ping pong table.
Amaze N Things
Our entrance here was quite awkward. Most of this place is not friendly for your typical pram or wheelchairs. With floors on massive tilts (such as the illusion above) and other very uneven surfaces and tight corridors. We had to spend some time figuring out if Archer (5 months) could sit up well enough in the very skinny prams provided but luckily, it was all fine and we went in.
The angle of the above photo is in a tilted room where this chair will slide uphill somehow. The angle of the photo doesn’t really show it well.
The mirror maze was pretty fun, Charlie went through in the free rental pram and even in this thing, it was difficult to navigate. It was pretty tight!
Kayla spent about 45 minutes contemplating life at the top of the vertical slide. I got incredibly bored and tired of filming her up there. She has heaps of footage of her wasting everyone’s time and holding up the line at the top there. Rachelle didn’t take near as long.
The floating head photo op is one of the most iconic photos here. I’d been nagging to get a picture of Charlie here for about an hour before we got around to it. After some lady spent a really long time hogging it and we were almost ready for the photo, Charlie chucked up all over his clothes, so had to change him so all the photos after this (and in this photo but you can’t see them) is before his costume change. Charlie was trying to eat the fake fruit he could see, which is weird because he normally doesn’t like fruit or vegetables much. I noticed that many of the plastic grapes were missing and so were the candles, so I guess this made many other kids hungry as well.
Giant Pin Art Toy
I think is the back of Daniel. Charlie spent a lot of time trying to poke all the giant pins back in and freaked out whenever someone moved them from the other side. It was a lot of fun.
Boogie Board Video Game
Charlie was obsessed with this balancing boogie board that let you control a flying one in a 3D map of Phillip Island. It was very buggy and the games were not working well at all but it seemed a bit like Pilot Wings on SNES and N64.
Mini Escape Room
Charlie had a lot of fun in this, mostly just opening and closing the first door into the area. This was pretty cool, I got stuck on the last puzzle despite solving it a dozen times over because I thought there was glass in front of the final treasure, but you had to actually open the chest with your hands after unlocking it or something.
Giant Outdoor Maze
We let Charlie loose in the maze. The objective was to find all the congratulatory signs at each of the flagpoles before exiting. Given the prams and the multiple staircases in the maze, it was very tiring and hard work to keep up with him.
The maze was pretty big and had lots of stairs, so we had to carry the prams a lot…. it was tough work.
Pannys World of Chocolate – The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
I originally wasn’t super excited to go here, as I’ve been to other independent chocolate factories somewhere and the chocolate was very average. I thought this would be just another tourist trap, but the chocolate was actually amazingly good.
This is definitely worth an hour or two of your time if you’re in the area.
Chocolate History and Facts
There’s a lot of educational stuff at the start of the exhibition that teaches you about the chocolate making process.
Chocolate Statue of David at Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Daniel confirmed that the statue was anatomically correct.
There was a sequence of 4-5 different skill and timing-based arcade games similar to pachinko machines and other low-tech games. Your entry ticket gets you 10 turns at these and for each win, you get a little wooden ball that you can exchange for a chocolate ball at the end.
Daniel was a lot better at these than Kayla or I were. I think we only got 1-2 each out our 10 tries.
Robot Waiters at Pannys
After the tour, we had some food at the attached restaurant, it had robot waiters. We had to be careful where we put the prams so that we didn’t get in the way of the two robot waiters.
I have no idea who these people are, but they were standing there when the two robots crashed into each other. I like that two of them are entertained whilst the other guy has an expression like “I could take them both on”. After this, we said goodbye to Rachelle, Daniel and Archer. Then spent a great deal of time panicking looking for the nappy bag… which we had left in the car… We drove home from here.