As soon as we arrived in Victoria it became apparent that one of the highlights of our visit would be Phillip Island, which is situated just 1.5 hours south-east of Melbourne. Philip island is most famous for its colony of little penguins, which are the smallest species of penguin in the world, and grow to an average height of just 33cm! The penguins spend 80% of their time at sea, traveling up to 50km a day and only return to the beach approximately 1 in 5 nights to rest.
We purchased general admission tickets for the penguin parade for $25 (£16) each, although there was a penguin plus option which promised to provide better viewing platforms, with more up-close encounters with the penguins. However, at $50 (£32) each we decided against this.
We arrived at Summerland Beach at 5pm and joined the crowds at the huge auditorium, which holds up to 3,000 people. Thankfully, given it is not peak season it was only half full, so we were able to get a great view.
Once seated in the auditorium we waited for the sunset. The sky was particularly clear, providing us with a great view of the full moon. Although, this did mean the beach was lighter and subsequently the penguins arrived later than expected.
At just after 6pm we watched as hundreds of little penguins emerged from the sea. It was amazing to watch as they waddled together, scrambling over rocks and making their way up the beach. Unfortunately for the purposes of the blog, there was a strict no photography rule.
After the first few groups of penguins had passed by there was a rush to the boardwalks where you can watch the penguins up-close as they find their way to their burrows. With one eye on the park rangers, Simon did manage to get a sneaky photo of one waddle (group) of penguins. Although, this wasn’t his best work, as just like the rest of us the little penguins move very quickly when returning home from work.
We really enjoyed the penguin parade, however the penguin plus ticket holders did have a considerably better view, with 70% of the penguins apparently going to that section of the beach.
As we had to wait until early evening to see the penguins, we spent the rest of the day exploring the island. We completed the 4km pinnacle walk, which started with a stroll across the Cape Woolamai beach, a popular spot for surfers. These were some of the best surfers we had seen in Australia, with some of them managing to stay up for more than a few seconds!
The walk then continued with steps up the cliff and along to the pinnacle. This was considerable less impressive that the one at Grampians National Park, however the walk provided stunning views of Philip island and the surrounding coastline.
Later we enjoyed a stroll along the Nobbies wooden boardwalk, with views across Phillip Island’s south coast. The boardwalk was highly populated with tourists and was clearly most people’s last stop before the penguin parade.
We also visited Cowes, which is the main town on Phillip Island and is situated on the Esplanade Coast. It is small in size but provided us with a nice stop for coffee, a browse around the shops and the best free wifi we have found in Australia so far!