Penguins on Philip
Philip Island, Victoria, Australia
Australia is known for its koalas. It’s known for its kangaroos and great whites. It’s known for its wallabies and brightly colored fish. But what it’s not known for are its penguins – though I’m sure that’s certain to change.
Situated two hours south of Melbourne is Philip Island, a place I consider one of Australia’s greatest hidden treasures. I stumbled upon Philip Island by chance. Having a spare day between my time in Melbourne and my trip down the Great Ocean Road, someone recommended the small detour down to Philip. All they had to say was “tiny penguins” and I was sold.
Before coming to Australia I hadn’t considered the possibility that the black and white waddlers graced OZ’s presence. I’ve always considered penguins animals as more attracted to the climates of ice and snow rather than my vision of bright and balmy Australia.
Much to my delight, not only does Australia have penguins, they have the smallest penguins in the world. Creatively named little penguins, they stand only 33 cm tall. They’re phenomenal animals with a coat of midnight blue, while helps them camouflage with the ocean. During the day the penguins stay in the water looking for food. At night, they emerge from the sea to hurry back to their burrows.
This habitual return from the sea has become known as the “Penguin Parade.” Beginning right around sunset and generally lasting for an hour, the little penguins scuttle out of the sea in throngs to the amazement and pleasure of all who watch. Adult tickets are $17 and $27 for “penguin plus” seating.
The penguin parade is run by the Philip Island Nature Parks. A not for profit organization, Nature Parks works to conserve natural habitats and all proceeds from the penguin parade tickets go to helping the penguins.
While penguins are definitely the main attraction, the whole of Philip Island is devoted to ecotourism and can definitely fill a day’s worth of activity. Philip is one of the best places to see koalas. There is a wildlife center, much like a zoo, which costs $11 and you get to see koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, etc. up close and personal. You also get a bag of feed so it’s very easy to go up and feed the kangaroos. It’s probably harder keeping them away then getting them close to you.
If you’re more keen on koalas, there’s also the treetop walk, which gets you close to koalas in their natural habitat. $9.00 for adults, it’s a bit cheaper than the wildlife centre and shows a unique view of the cuddly animal.
Another big attraction is Churchill Island, a place fondly referred to as a historic farm. Churchill Island is all about heritage and there’s heaps of old buildings and walking tracks that expose the historical beauty. On Churchill there are plenty of places to eat and don’t leave without meeting the farm animals.
Tickets for Churchill are $9, but the best bet if you want to see the koalas, the penguins, and Churchill is to buy a 3 park pass, which includes them all for $30. Children are $15.