If there’s one thing I learned from taking a day trip to Phillip Island, it’s that it is possible to be totally awed by your surroundings and at the same time want to be anywhere else but where you are right now.
That feeling, as it turns out, starts with flies.
When we arrive at Cape Woolomai bright and early on Thursday morning, it looks like it’s going to a fantastic way to start our day trip to Phillip Island. The loop walk around the cape is just long enough to make it a starting hike, some 8.5-ish kilometres according to the information we were able to find online. Admittedly we haven’t done a lot of research, but we know that the hike traces the coast for the most part, and that’s good enough for us.
The really early morning surfers are just heading in when we start our hike along the beach to the staircase where the trailhead actually begins. There’s a gentle coastal breeze that ruffles our hair and fills our lungs with the kind of feeling that only really comes from having the opportunity to hike along a deserted beach at dawn on an average Thursday. It’s a good feeling.
Then we get to the stairs, and as we climb to the top and the breeze drops away. To be honest, I barely even notice it at first. Walking alongside the coast is always nice, breeze or no breeze. Well, that’s what I used to think. Then, as I got to the top of the stairs, the first fly settled on my face. This fly was quickly followed by nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine other flies who also decided in that my face was the place to be right in that moment. It would have been comedic if it wasn’t so disgusting. Looking over at Dean through my own personal swarm, it was clear he wasn’t having a much better time of it, with possibly even more flies buzzing around his face, ears and body.
Much to our disbelief, that is how we spent the rest of our walk around Cape Woolamai. The flies buzzed around us in clouds while we vainly swatted and windmilled our arms around, looking pretty ridiculous. For the first half of the walk, we tried in vain to continue our manual methods of fly removal, before eventually giving in and picking up small branches to help swat the beasts from our faces. Even then, the flies continued to dive-bomb us, trying with every buzzing fibre of their insect bodies to gain access to the warm moist insides of our ears, noses and mouths.
Feeling sick yet?
So yes, sadly we rushed our walk along Cape Woolamai. In any other season, or perhaps with a strong coastal breeze, this walk would have been nothing short of spectacular. The ocean down below shone in the summer sun, light bounced off white caps that lazily drifted towards the shore. If there was a vision of Australia’s coast, no doubt it would look like that. In fact, flies aside (and we did almost see the funny side of it towards the end) it was still a nice way to start our day trip to Phillip Island. Of course, there was still more to come.
When we finished the Cape Woolamai hike, we were feeling (not surprisingly) pretty gross. Climbing into the car after slogging through the last stretch of deep sand with not only blow flies but stinging march flies as well, there’s a sense of relief. Adventure isn’t always as glamorous as it looks on Instagram, but with our morning hike out of the way, our day trip to Phillip Island was just now getting started.
We followed up our hike with a much needed swim at a beach. Without much knowledge of Phillip Island, we ultimately just picked a beach off the map and went to check it out. As luck would have it, the beach was stunning, and ideal for a post-hike cool off. The beach we picked was Ventnor Beach, coincidently the name of a beach on the Isle of Wight as well where Dean has a heap of family. We found out (following this) that Phillip Island has a number of Isle of Wight twins, including the main town of Cowes. Beaches in Australia, I can say quite confidently, are far superior than their English counterparts.
Nothing refreshes a person like a swim on an almost-empty beach, watching dogs gallop and gambol down the sandy stretch like they have nothing else to do but live joyfully. And so after a soak in the salt we were more than ready to continue our adventurous day trip to Phillip Island. Next stop? The Nobbies!
Funny names aside, The Nobbies was just as stunning as Cape Woolamai, only with absolutely none of the flies that had plagued our first walk. The boardwalks at The Nobbies wind their way over the coastal cliffs, and below the grass fades out to plump succulents that blush in shades of red and orange. Apparently The Nobbies is also home to a whole lot of seals, but we didn’t see a single one. If they’re having the same fly problems that we are, the fact didn’t surprise me at all. However, while we did spot a few shy penguins hiding in their little penguin houses, which was a treat enough seeing as we’d chosen to skip the ‘Penguin Parade’ due to the summer crowds.
So instead we wandered our way along the boardwalks, with the crowds, thankful that our day trip to Phillip Island wasn’t on a weekend, even if it was during the school holidays. We stood at the lookouts and watched the waves crash and spread themselves along the rocks below. The sun was high in the sky, and our skin baked slowly in the sunlight. Of all the days to be standing by the seaside, I was pretty happy to be there for this one. No doubt we’d be back at this view again before the year was out, probably in the winter where the flies were grounded and the whales added to the waves splashing in the sea. But for now, despite everyone around us, it was just Dean and I looking out onto the horizon, and thinking of the next adventure.