PHILLIP Island Nature Parks is delighted to soon be welcoming back visitors from metropolitan Melbourne, and return to opening daily at three of its attractions.

The Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Reserve and Churchill Island will all re-commence daily operations, effective from Thursday, November 12.

“This is a very significant moment in the state’s roadmap to recovery, and we are just so thrilled that our friends and neighbours in metropolitan Melbourne will be able to join us soon,” said Catherine Basterfield, Nature Parks CEO.

“Our team has shown phenomenal resilience over the past several months, and we are all looking forward to showcasing our attractions which are looking fantastic after a lot of focussed maintenance activities. The penguins have definitely come to the party as well, with an early breeding season in full swing, so there are chicks everywhere, and the penguin viewing is sensational.

“The Koala Conservation Reserve and Churchill Island are sure to be popular spots with their open spaces, fresh air, and plenty of room to move around freely and safely. Churchill Island will also be hosting its first Farmers Market for the season on Saturday 7 November.”

All of the Nature Parks’ attractions are operating under a comprehensive COVID-Safe plan to keep visitors and staff safe with capacity management, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures in place.

Online tickets are required for entry to each of the attractions, and bookings are essential at the Penguin Parade due to limited capacity. Please refer to www.penguins.org.au for latest updates on visiting the Nature Parks.

“Like all Phillip Island businesses, we are re-opening in a very different world, and looking ahead we are working on strategies that focus on our domestic visitors in the short term, but continuing to support our international markets and industry colleagues so we are top of mind and ready when we can welcome overseas visitors again.”

“Live Penguin TV has played a huge part in not only raising the awareness of the Nature Parks and Phillip Island, but also creating a real connection with our audience. We recently reached the incredible milestone of over 20 million viewers in the 9 weeks since we launched, but we aren’t stopping there. We’ve got some exciting plans for Live Penguin TV over the next few months, so watch this space!”

“As we prepare to re-open, it also seems like a great opportunity to look back on the last 6 months, and reflect on some of the Nature Parks’ many positive achievements, thanks in large part to the funding support received from the State Government.”

As a State Government entity, Nature Parks’ staff were not eligible for any of the wage subsidy programmes such as JobKeeper, so the funding received allowed for the retention of nearly 200 permanent staff members who were redeployed across the Nature Parks, and who collectively achieved significant wins for conservation including:

  • Providing critical care, rehabilitation, and recovery for 13 bushfire affected koalas
  • Reaching a significant milestone in bringing Eastern Barred Bandicoots back from the brink of extinction by providing animals for the release of 56 bandicoots onto neighbouring French Island.
  • Rehabilitating 26.4 hectares of habitat with 36,246 plants in the ground and removing Sea-spurge across the entire Nature Parks coastline.
  • Over 164 hectares of weed control with the team putting in huge hours tackling woody weeds across our sensitive Coastal Reserves.
  • Planting out old management roads in the Summerland Estate to create wildlife habitat and also planting groundcovers around new bollards at Shelley Beach. A total of 58 trees were put in the ground and guarded along with 80 ground covers.
  • Preparation work for the upcoming fire season.
  • Rare plant surveys and protection measures.
  • Completing revegetation of the penguin habitat around the new Penguin Parade visitor centre.
  • Analysing thousands of images for scientific research.
  • Having a successful trip out to Seal Rocks disentangling four out of five Australian Fur Seals entangled in fishing line, nylon baling string and trawl net. Two of the seals were pups, two juveniles and one was an adult female.
  • Successfully completing grant and award submissions.

Other team members have also contributed their skills and talents in projects such as cataloguing an historic lace collection at Churchill Island, taking superb photos of workers in the field to record our journey, and making cushions for children’s play areas to name a few.

“We are also eagerly awaiting the staged and safe return of the Nature Parks’ incredible team of volunteers, who we have sorely missed over the past months.”

“We are excited to be continuing on this journey, and I would like to take this opportunity to personally acknowledge the strength of our team and our community, and I look forward to us playing our part in the continued recovery of Phillip Island and the wonderful state of Victoria.”