On the way to Phillip island to visit the penguin parade from Melbourne there’s so many places to visit from beaches and wildlife sanctuaries to chocolate factories and quaint small towns. It’s hard to decide what spots to go for but Churchill heritage farm should be right up there on your bucket list!
Churchill island – What is it?
Travel through the town of San Remo and you’ll cross the bridge over to Phillip island and shortly after you’ll be heading past the chocolate
factory. Just past the chocolate factory on the right is a dirt road that will lead you across another bridge which is single lane only. This bridge takes you across to Churchill island, an island only 57 hectares in size that is home to a beautiful heritage farm.
The island itself is one of 3 located on western port bay to the south east of Melbourne. The other are of course Phillip and French Island. The island and farm offer beautiful sweeping views, lots of activities for the family and wildlife experiences and a glimpse into the past.
I’s the site of the first European crops planted in Victoria and is a popular spot to visit on your way to the Penguin Parade.
History of the island
The Boonwurrung people originally walked the island and had a special appreciation the the Moonah trees that take up residence here. An important site of European heritage in Victoria it was originally seen by George Bass in 1798 whilst on an expedition to navigate a safe passage between Victoria and Tasmania.
In 1801 Lieutenant James Grant landed his ship the Lady nelson on the shore of the island and cleared land where he planted seeds of corn and wheat. These were the first forays into Agricultural crops in Victoria by the Europeans and so James named the island after John Churchill who was the man that had given him the seeds used.
From the 1850’s onwards the fam was continually maintained and was purchased by Samuel Amess, The Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 1872. He acquired the island for holiday and farming use and he had a substantial house and outbuildings built on the land which are still there and able to be visited today.
The farm was made open to visitation after being acquired by the Victorian Conservation Trust in 1972. Up until then it was used as a private retreat.
Attractions & Amenities
Upon arrival on the island there is plenty of parking for vehicles out the front. You can enter through the visitors centre which has a gift shop,
exhibition on the history of the island and a cafe with a deck which is perfect for sitting back and enjoying the views with a coffee.
Inside the farm there’s many spots to sit and relax on the grass or at the picnic tables where you can enjoy the sweeping views of French island and Western Port bay.
There’s plenty of farming activities to check out too! Whip cracking, sheep shearing and cow milking are some of what’s on offer and watching the working dogs round up the sheep is always entertaining. You can also view the horses, highland cattle and the resident peacocks.
You can get a glimpse of what living in Australia was like in the 1870’s by wandering through the Samuel Amess house and outbuildings which are still in fantastic condition and as authentic as it gets. On a hot day it’s still relatively cool inside thanks to how houses were built back then.
There’s sights to see outside of the Heritage Farm also. There are walking tracks around the outside of the island where you can check out the resident Moonah Trees and see the Grant memorial in place for Lieutenant James Grant.
The 3 and 4 parks pass offered by Phillip Island nature parks includes entry to Churchill island making it great value for your Phillip Island journey.
Join our Full day Phillip island tour to visit churchill island and see the little penguins