The Scottish highland cow greeted us with its giant horns and fuzzy bangs as we navigated the dirt road leading to Churchill Island. We very well could have been in Scotland, except it was far too sunny and there wasn’t a sign of a distillery anywhere. Instead we were about an hour south of Melbourne, Australia on beautiful Phillip Island.
Churchill Island is connected both physically and economically to its larger cousin, Phillip Island, and is the site of the first European settlement in Victoria. Churchill, along with the Nobbies, the Koala Conservation Centre and the Penguin Parade combine to create one of the best natural parks in the world, Phillip Island. Our first stop to the ever popular visitor destination was Churchill Island, all for the promise of petting some cute animals.
The island itself is pure pastoral brilliance. Birds were chirping, the water lapped up against the rich farmland and an assortment of animals were wandering about in a state of barnyard bliss. The heritage farm dates back to the 19th century and features a variety of farm demonstrations, shows and of course animals. The view is the real star though and a walk or bike ride around the island provides not only some amazing panoramas, but all too rare moments of solitude as well.
I love animals, and any opportunity to interact with them is something I relish. I guess that’s why we nearly ran to the petting zoo area of Churchill for the promise of some non-lethal wildlife experiences, a bit of a rarity in Australia. We weren’t disappointed. Piglets, lambs, chicks, you name the stereotypically cute farm animal and it was well represented on Churchill Island.
After tearing ourselves away from baby lamb cuteness, we toured the rest of the farm and were surprised at how accessible it all was. Massive draft horses weren’t just on display, visitors can pet them and feel the mighty strength under their calm demeanor. Every other feature of the farm, well except for the wallabies, was just as easy to interact with and enjoy. We stayed for a while, watched a demonstration of cattle dogs herding confused sheep, and slowly ambled back towards the car.
In a world of constant connectivity and instant gratification, visiting Churchill Island was a great way to slow down and enjoy our surroundings instead of racing around like contestants on The Amazing Race. The baby hairy coos didn’t hurt either.