edited: Thursday, April 11, 2002
By Annette Gisby
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2002
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Watch the penguins on Phillip Island, Australia.
Phillip Island is a small island and nature reserve off the coast of South Australia, about 140 km from Melbourne. On the island you can see koalas, kangaroos and the main attraction, the Penguin Parade on Summerland Beach.
Every day at sunset, the Little Penguins (also known as Fairy Penguins)
because of their diminitive size, return to the beach. As my husband
is a penguin fanatic, it was one of the places on our list to visit
during our trip there.
There is a visitor centre at the top of the beach with details of
all the world's penguins, there is a gift shop too and rangers who
can answer questions about everything you wanted to know about penguins
As dusk was approaching, we made our way down to the beach, as did
everyone else. On the beach was a stone grandstand, rather cold on
the behind, so bring a coat or blanket to sit on.
Some people had even brought along a picnic, a family day out. As
it got darker, people became more subuded and talked less, keeping
an eye out on the beach to see the arrival of that first penguin.
Suddenly there was movement at the edge of the surf and all heads
turned as one. There, standing by the edge of the water was the
smallest penguin we had ever seen. He looked left, then right, as
if he was contemplating crossing a busy road and then he ran quickly
across to the sand dunes and the penguin burrows.
He must have been the scout, because after him, there came groups
of penguins, some consisted of two or three penguins, some had about
ten or fifteen, but they all made that same mad dash across the sand
into the burrows, as if they couldn't get there fast enough.
The crowd of penguin watchers was quite, except for the occasional,
"ooh" and "ahhs" from adults as well as children. The groups started
to dwindle and finally no more penguins emerged from the sea.
We sat on the grandstand for a while, not talking, just feeling awed
at what we'd just seen. Neither of has had ever seen penguins in the
wild before, only in zoos and it was an amazing feeling.
You could see the penguins here every evening and morning, but they
weren't in cages or in small pools, the sea was their playground and
it is a sight we would definitely recommend to anyone.
There were two floodlights by the grandstand, which didn't seem to
bother the penguins, but you weren't allowed to take flash photographs
as it scared them. Of course, there were some people who didn't listed
to the ranger and they were told off and escorted off the beach, so
do listen to what they say.
After the penguins had gone to their burrows, you could walk along
boardwalks and see them there. They make a lot of noise for all the
size of them!
It wasn't available while we were there, but now there is the option
to have breakfast at sunrise, just before the penguins make their
way back to the sea. That's got to be worth a look.
So if you are venturing down under, make a small detour to Phillip
Island and Summerland Beach. You won't regret it.