While I was visiting Melbourne with a friend, we decided to look at visiting Phillip Island to see the little penguins. We decided to book a tour with “A Tour With A Difference” who offer small group tours combined with visiting the penguins. The tour included some stops along the way with timing to arrive for The Penguin Parade. In this post, I cover the details of the experience at The Penguin Parade, but you can read more about the tour “Phillip Island Penguins and More Tour.”
The tour guide stays updated on the expected arrival time of the little penguins. However, it seems to coincide with dusk. Today we arrived around 7.30pm and were provided with poncho’s and waterproof rugs, due to recent and possible rain.
The Penguin Parade does seem to be a very popular attraction, with plenty of people arriving at the visitors centre. All are making their way down to the viewing areas. For us, that was not a big problem as we had paid a little extra for the Penguins Plus option with a smaller, closer seating area.
There are some different options for The Penguin Parade when it comes to seating. There is a general admission area that is like grandstand seating. But we choose to pay a little extra for the Penguins Plus viewing area.
The tour includes seating in a small more intimate area near where more penguins pass by. Also included were an audio tour and short talk by a park ranger describing what we might expect to see. Finally, there was a free hot drink once the little penguin viewing was finished.
By the time that we had passed through the visitors centre, collected the audio tour and found our way to the seating it was around 7.40 pm. Even with the evening being dulled by overcast clouds, there was still around 30 minutes before the Penguins were expected.
In the time spent waiting, we listened to the audio tour and also a little information from the guide. Almost all light had gone from the sky when at about 8.20pm the first littler penguin appeared. Soon followed by another and then an army of little penguins scrambling over the rocks. I had started trying to count them, but this soon became too difficult.
The Penguins Plus area provides just about the best seating to see the little penguins. You are no more than one or two meters from the penguins, and hundreds are passing. But the little penguins also tend to stop around this area the preen a little. As it is this area that is the first chance since leaving the water they start to feel a little safer.
More Viewing Opportunities
Even though the Penguins Plus viewing area provides a great view of the penguins coming in, there are plenty of other opportunities. On the walk back to the visitors centre, the little penguins are moving around on both sides of the path. Along with the penguin’s nest covering the landscape around the area. You can be a lot closer to the penguins along here, but the numbers of them together are much smaller.
About the Little Penguins*
The Little Penguin is the smallest of all penguin species. Growing to a height of between 30-33cm (12-13inches) and weighing between 1 to 1.5 kilograms. The areas that they are most commonly found are the southern coastal areas of Australia and New Zealand. However, there are also possible records of them in Chile as well.
The Phillip Island colony at Summerlands Peninsula on the south-western coast of Phillip Island is home to approx 32,000 Little Penguins. Every sunset anywhere from a few hundred to over one thousands Little Penguins can be seen crossing the beach and returning to their nests.
I am one that loves to see numbers and statistics and they do their best to provide some numbers. On the night of our tour visit, there was a total of 1,415 little penguins crossed the beach. Of these around 880 of them passed by the Penguins Plus viewing area. With so many of them passing this viewing area I am glad we choose this option.
How To See The Little Penguins
There are some options to see the little penguins for yourself. You can make a choice between taking a tour, driving yourself or even staying at Phillip Island.
With limited time in Melbourne, myself and my friend opted for a tour. As mentioned above the company we choose was A Tour With a Difference. Taking their Phillip Island and Penguins Day tour. The tour was a great idea with the option to include dinner and the choice to add Penguins Plus at an extra cost.
Besides the penguins, the tour also included some other stops. There were five in total visiting, Cowes, Nobbies Conservation Centre, Gurdies Winery, Phillip Island Chocolate Factory & Woolamai Surf Beach. Plus time for dinner in Cowes, which we opted to include dinner with the tour.
You can contact A Tour With A Different by phone on 1300 36 27 36.
If you live near Melbourne or have rented a car, you can choose to drive to Phillip Island Yourself. From Melbourne, it takes around 90 minutes, but you need to remember to arrive at least an hour before the penguin arrival. The self-drive option makes it rather flexible for you to decided what to do and where to go along the way.
Staying At Phillip Island
If you have a couple of days, it can be very nice to stay at Phillip Island. There are some hotels around the main town on the island Cowes. Two hotels I have used in the area are the Arthur Phillip Moter Inn and the Seahorse Motel. Both were quite comfortable and would consider staying again when returning to Phillip Island in the future.
Entry to The Penguin Parade
Standard Admission to see the little penguins starts from $25.70 for adults and $12.80 for children (4-15 years).While Penguin Plus admissions start from $50.00 for adults and $25.00 for children (4-15 years). There is a range of other options available including different inclusions and family passes. But the best place to find the latest prices and information is the Penguin Parade website – www.penguins.org.au.
Disclaimer – Information in this post is correct as at May 2017. Information has been sourced from third party websites including Wikipedia, A Tour With A Difference and Phillip Island Nature Parks. Other information is based on my personal experience. The prices included within this post are supplied as an indication only and may change, so please check prices on the provided websites.