Phillip Island Historical Museum

(Closed - Currently undergoing redevelopment)

The Phillip Island Historical Museum is small but packed with interesting exhibits on Phillip Island’s history.

The volunteer staff is very helpful if you have any queries.

Start by watching the two videos.

Exhibits follow in logical order, beginning with the geological origins from millions of years ago – the fiery volcanic creation of which evidence can be seen at different locations throughout the island.

Read how the people of the Bunurong tribe visited the island depending on the season.

Mutton birds (short tailed shearwaters), geese, seals and fish provided a varied diet.

Middens (shell piles) have been found on the island as evidence of these seasonal visits.

Learn about how the Bunurong lived in a sustainable way with the land and its’ harvest.

Exhibit on chicory farming at Phillip Island Historical Museum

Display at the Historical Museum Showing Chicory Farming

The history of the first Europeans starts when Lieutenant James Grant landed at Elizabeth Cove.  He later began Victoria’s first farm on Churchill Island.

The historical museum follows the story of the pioneering families, depicting their everyday lives – descendants of some of these families still farm on the island today.

Furniture, clothing, bric-a-brac and journals from these early times are on display.

A fascinating part of Phillip Island’s history is the growing of chicory, begun in 1870, with a comprehensive exhibit showing all aspects of this industry.

Visitors can still see original chicory kilns on the island to this day, as well as architecture inspired by this iconic shape.

Quite a bit of space in the museum is devoted to the wreck of the SS Speke which crashed onto the rocks at Kitty Miller Bay on 22 February, 1906.

Locals salvaged much of the ship’s equipment plus the figurehead, which is proudly displayed here – repainted by the local schoolchildren.

Figurehead of SS Speke

Figurehead of SS Speke

A very important part of the island's history was the construction of a bridge linking Phillip Island to the mainland.

Before the construction of the bridge, punts were used to ferry people, goods and animals to and from the island.

View the photos of the first timber bridge, and then of the current bridge, plus the stories about both and the campaign to have them built.

One of the stranger exhibits is a cannon ball found on an island farm!

At the Heritage Centre
89 Thompson Avenue, Cowes

Open Thursday and Saturday 10am – 12noon, and Sundays from 2.00pm - 4.30pm during school holidays.

Discover more about the history of Cowes by taking the two Phillip Island Heritage Walks.

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