Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Nature Parks
Phillip Island attracts visitors in droves every year. Some come for the motor sports, others for the rugged, picturesque coastline; nevertheless, few would argue that one of the island’s premier attractions is the Penguin Parade at the Phillip Island Nature Parks.
These penguins measure just 30cm in height, making them the smallest of their kind in the world. Furthermore, this colony of tiny flightless critters is one of the largest around, helping to cement their place as Australia’s Number 1 wildlife attraction. Every evening the penguins emerge from the sea after a day of fishing to seek repose in their rookeries.
The hour of their arrival will vary with the seasons, so it is worth checking the official site for an accurate time. It is also recommended that you are there 1 hour prior to this time, which in my case meant getting down there at around 4pm.
One of the most striking aspects of the tour package on offer (which costs $90 Australian) is the emphasis on education. Before taking a seat on the Penguin Plus viewing platform, visitors are told a wealth of interesting info about the lives of the Little Penguin and can also visit the ‘love nests’ where males attempt to woo their passing female counterparts.
All of this is, of course, a sideshow to the main event – albeit a very entertaining one. The penguins arrive on the shore in waves punctuated by fur and fins, then waddle their way home, seemingly unfazed by the enthusiastic onlookers. Just like the time of their arrival, the number of Little Penguins can vary. There were roughly one hundred on my visit, and the minuscule birds seemed to wait for each other on shore before completing their journey. Given their stature, it is understandable that they seek safety in numbers!
During the tour, we had been informed that this ritual stretches back thousands of years, and this sense of history serves only to underline the impressive nature of the spectacle. As dusk settles and the penguins make their way home to the dunes, the Penguin Parade draws to a close, and it is easy to see why this is such a highly recommended attraction.
Nevertheless, the Phillip Island Nature Parks offer a plethora of exotic wildlife to enjoy. If you would like to experience one of Australia’s most symbolic species, head on over to the Koala Conservation Centre. Now in its 21st year, the Centre has had a fundamental role to play in the conservation and breeding of koalas, thus ensuring its enduring popularity with visitors. If koalas aren’t your thing, the Centre also plays host to wallabies and over 80 species of birds.
Churchill Island Heritage Farm also offers a unique experience, as tourists can enjoy ‘hands-on’ demonstrations of age-old farming techniques. The whole family is sure to relish the opportunity to spend the day with farmyard animals, and there is also a nice restaurant on the premises. In fact, a ‘3-Park Pass’ can be purchased, and this provides entry to the Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
With wildlife attractions such as these, and 140km of spectacular coastline to boot, it is small wonder that Phillip Island receives so many visitors. Located just 90 minutes from Melbourne, it is very accessible to all tourists in Victoria. Its proximity to Melbourne makes it a viable day-trip destination, but to make the most of all that Phillip Island has to offer, it is best to include an overnight stay. Some competitively priced, comfortable options include the Silverwater Resort and the All Seasons Phillip Island resort.
This piece was written by Clark Boyd, who has been featured on a number of travel and finance blogs. Travellers to Melbourne can make the most of an American Express credit card by using Membership Rewards points to purchase an All Seasons Gift Card worth up to $1000 for use at the All Seasons Resort. Gift vouchers purchased with American Express credit cards must be used within 12 months.