Influential extremist preacher Robert Cerantonio, who led a failed plot to sail to the Philippines in a "boat that could have sunk in a bath tub", doesn't fit the profile of an Islamic extremist partly because of his "eclectic taste" in music, his lawyer has told a Melbourne court.

Cerantonio, 34, was the leader of a group of five men arrested after towing a boat from Melbourne to Cape York in Far North Queensland in 2015.

They planned to sail to the southern Philippines and work with Muslim militants to overthrow the government there.

The Footscray man faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment after pleading guilty to entering an agreement to do preparatory acts to overthrow a government by force or violence.

Read more: ABC Net (Australia)