Phillip Island has an area of 100 square kilometres and 97km of coastline and is best known for it’s rich congregation of Little Penguins and sea mammals. About 50 million years ago, molten rock was deposited from fiery craters in the area, and eruptions continued for several million years leaving thick deposits of basalt (volcanic lava) and red rock tuff (volcanic ash) that can be seen today.
During the earth’s last cold climate phase (80,000 to 18,000 years ago), the sea was at least 100 metres below its present level and the land that is now Phillip Island was part of a wide coastal plain, linking Tasmania to the mainland. As the sea level has increased to present levels around 6,000 years ago, waves and weathering began to erode Phillip Island, resulting in the spectacular rocky platforms and coastal features such as Pyramid Rock, the Blowhole, the Colonnades and Forrest Caves that visitors enjoy today.
Wilsons Promontory National Park is located approximately 160 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, on the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. Known affectionately as ‘The Prom’, this relatively narrow peninsula and cluster of 19 small granite islands, feature a diverse array of habitats including expansive mudflats, sandy beaches and sheltered coves, coastal dunes, dramatic granite headlands, tall forests and lush fern gullies. The majority of the park is granite, with the peninsula only becoming tied to the mainland in geologically recent times due to the fall in sea level and northward movement of sea sand forming the sandy isthmus. Evidence of Aboriginal occupation at Wilsons Promontory dates back at least 6,500 years.
Wilsons Promontory is home to over 30 species of native mammals, including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp and Red-necked Wallabies, Echidnas, Possums and Common Wombats and many birds including Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas, Red Wattlebirds, Superb Fairy Wrens, Eastern Yellow Robins and Spotted Paradalotes.
The granite islands spread around the Wilsons Promontory area have been recently declared as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International, due to their breeding areas for Short-tailed Shearwaters (with over 1.4 million nesting burrows), Pacific Gulls, Black-faced Cormorants and population of Fairy Prions. Over 700 plants are found in the area, with tall forests of Blue Gum, Yellow Stringybarks, rainforests of Lillypilies and fern gullies and tea-trees, coastal banksias and coastal wattles along the sandy isthmus.