When I heard there was a place near Melbourne where you could see penguins appear from the ocean, I knew I had to witness it for myself. As most of you are probably wondering, don’t penguins only live in really cold places? Nope, these are a different species than the ones in Antarctica. Also, is it really a parade? Yes, they waddle down a path in groups of 2 to 20 and sometimes there are a few stragglers that maybe ate too much. Overall, it’s ADORABLE.
There used to be 12 penguin hubs in this area. As humans developed the area and created roads, the hubs slowly died off so Philip Island Nature Parks started preserving the land to save the penguins. They brought in scientists that created an optimal environment for the penguins to live and breed with many viewing areas built around the penguin burrows. All revenue raised from the Parade go back to conservation of the area.
There was a guide on site so while we waited for the penguins to come out, I asked a lot of questions about these fuzzy fur-balls. Here’s what I learned.
- The penguins stay out in the ocean all day looking for food to bring back to their babies at night. They keep the food in their throats, which slowly disintegrate throughout the day. By the time they get back at night, they’re able to feed their babies fish “soup”.
- Penguins sleep in four minute intervals in the ocean.
- We saw a few really plump penguins. These guys were preparing to shed their feathers and have to stay on land for two weeks, so need to load up on food.
- Penguins aren’t big on adoption. If babies can’t find their parents, they become orphans.
- Each night, hundreds to thousands of penguins will come back to the sand dunes in Phillip Island.
As I mentioned above, in order not to disturb the penguins, there are various viewing platforms to choose from. Depending on the type of experience you’d like to have, you can get up close with the Penguins Plus platform, go on a private ranger tour or choose to see them eye level in the underground viewing area, which is what we did. It got chilly so it was nice being indoors while waiting for the penguins to appear. After a while, you’re able to go outside and appreciate the penguins without a glass in between.
- Arrive early to get a good spot in the front.
- Book ahead of time because they do sell out.
- Bring a blanket. The penguins don’t come out until around 9:15pm.
Drive time is about two hours from Melbourne to Phillip Island. Other activities in the area include Ecoboat Tours, a Koala Conservation Centre and the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
1019 Ventnor Road
Summerland, Victoria 3922
Thanks to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade for introducing me to these furry creatures in their natural habitat. All opinions are my own. Photos courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks.