The relatively short trip to Phillip Island is a fabulous drive. Just long enough to get right into your Whitney Houston playlist and pretending no one can hear you belt out a few tunes before turning to San Remo and making the spectacular crossing over the Western Port Bay. Phillip Island is a well-known Victorian tourist spot, famous for the Penguin Parade and fascinating coastal rock formations, the Nobbies and Pyramid Rock.
The traditional owners of the Phillip Island region are the Boon Warrung people whose ancestors travelled the region sourcing food and ochre. It is not surprising then, that when colonial settlers began to inhabit the Island much of the industry grew around sealing, fishing and agriculture. Having long been regaled with stories of friends who are descended from one of the first farmers on Churchill Island, a small outcropping of land just past the bridge from San Remo, it is a spot that we have always wanted to visit.
Churchill Island (Moonar’mia) is a wonderfully preserved area of the nature park featuring a number of peaceful walks across the Wadjil’garook wetland through to the colonial farm buildings founded by the Pickersgill and Rogers families and expanded by pre-Federation Melbourne Mayor Samuel Amess. While the flora and native animal inhabitants and all very much Australian, there is something about Churchill Island that recalls the red beaches and wetlands of Prince Edward Island. You would not be surprised if on a wander you encountered Anne Shirley in the middle of writing one of her Avonlea stories.
The Heritage Farm is lovingly maintained and operated by Phillip Island Nature Parks and Friends of Churchill Island and between them the Farm is a highly engaging attraction. Running daily schedules of farm activities, visitors of all ages can enjoy a snapshot of agricultural life in the 1870s. The original house complex is attended by voluntary guides in colonial costume who are more than happy to discuss the history of the Farm and Island and preservation efforts.
The grounds enjoy full sun, making for a garden rich with blooms and greenery in every season. There is a kitchen garden with rare tamarillos and a strong crop of artichokes and a formal garden with spring bulbs beginning to emerge that gives way to vast paddocks and a lavender farm leading down to the sea. Churchill Island is truly an idyllic spot to let your imagination run riot.