Island Whale Festival – By Amelie Gully

As winter officially arrives, whales start to make their annual migration along the Victorian coastline. From May to September, our region hosts several whale species, with up to 400 whales passing through our local area along the Bass Strait each year. This year Phillip Island is yet again holding our infamous Island Whale Festival, from the 5th to the 7th of July to celebrate these wonderful creatures.

Bass Coast Shire Council has partnered closely with Destination Phillip Island to bring this wonderful event back to our area. Ranging from the cozy festival hub at Berninneit to the whale discovery trail and the whale watching cruises the Island Whale Festival has it all, with a unique range of activities providing fun for all ages. The main event is in the festival hub where you can purchase a Festival Experience Pass and explore the range of activities from live music to arts and crafts to talks about marine life and their complexities.

June and July are the prime times to see the whales here. It is also the time when people from all over come down to visit and see our whales and penguins. “What a great opportunity to get up close and meet the local whales, penguins, seals and dolphins. So glad that we came to Phillip Island during our trip” said Ella, a happy tourist on the whale watching cruise.

We are excited to share with you this extensive program for the event. On the Friday there will be programs such as a presentation from Ben Franchiselli on the interesting world of the Megalodon.

Or you could go and hear from local researchers about the whales of Victoria and try to spot them from the prime viewing location at Cape Woolamai. If you want a more relaxed activity head over to the festival hub where you can join artist Karen Morton for some fun crafts as you create your own whale themed calico bag!

On Saturday the events keep coming, starting off with a whale blessing from Traditional Custodian, Ceremony Maker and Artist – Uncle Steve Ulula Parker. This ceremony will bless the whales and wish them safe passage through our waters. This is a free event and will be held on the Cowes foreshore. After that you can head across to the Nobbies Centre and show some support for our talented local artists at an Pop Up Art Show.

If you want a more in depth look into the world of photography of marine animals and wildlife head down to the festival hub and sit in on acclaimed photographer Peter Fogarty’s talk on photographing whales and the importance and expertise it needs to keep these creatures documented and protected.

Peter will talk on his first hand experience of capturing these mammals. To finish off the day you can attend a performance by the Ngargee Dance Groups -a group of young first nations women living on Boonwurrung Country. The group teaches the stories of Boonwurrung through the song and dance of these young women.

On Sunday, you can do some ceramic and plaster painting at Clay & Co Studio, the pieces will be fired and glazed so they look gorgeous and ready to take home in the following weeks. Or make your way over to Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club where you can sit in and listen to four whale experts share their unique experiences in marine science and biology.

To finally send off the festival attend one of the many presentations from talented individuals and hear their presentations ranging from talks of ancient Baleen whales to the fascinating research of our own endangered southern right whales.

The whale festival is always a delight and brings our community closer by inviting people from all over to experience the marvelous beauty of Bass Coast and Phillip Island.

Any enquiries please visit:

Island Whale Festival Phillip Island (

Events & Activities – Island Whale Festival Phillip Island (

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