We spent most of our first day in Melbourne… two hours away from Melbourne. It was off to Phillip Island (great name, eh?) and the Penguin Parade! The Penguin Parade is Australia’s biggest wildlife attraction and a rare chance for humans to see wild penguins up close. The colony of Little Penguins is one of the largest such colonies in the world. The Little Penguin is, as its name suggests, the littlest species of penguin. They are sometimes referred to as Blue Penguins or Little Blue Penguins due to their bluish colour.
As the Penguin Parade made my list of 103 things, we decided that it was worthy of a splurge. So, we signed up for the “Ultimate Penguin Tour” and had the chance to walk down to the beach in a small group – away from the big crowd – to watch the penguins come ashore at dusk. We were provided with night vision goggles so we could clearly see them in the darkness. They came ashore in small groups, waddled across the beach, and made their way up the sand dunes to their breeding grounds beyond. After about 30 minutes of watching the penguins emerge from the ocean, we slowly and carefully walked alongside of their breeding grounds on our way back to the visitor centre. We were provided with dim flashlights so we could ensure we didn’t step on any penguins. They were just bright enough for us to see, but the lights were tinted red as this colouring doesn’t have a negative impact on the penguins’ eyes.
Of course, everyone loves penguins (who could dislike penguins?!?) and their exhibits at zoos are always popular. This tour, however, was a whole new level. It’s rare to see penguins in the wild, let alone seeing them come ashore from their hunt for food. But we did, and we were up close with a front row view. Overall, it was an absolutely spectacular experience.
Unfortunately, photographing penguins was not allowed as their eyes are very sensitive to flashes of light (and some people in the past have proven to be idiots for not knowing how to use their cameras properly or assholes for being selfish and not turning off the damn flash on purpose). We got plenty of photographs before and after instead!
I thought these were supposed to be the Little Penguins???
Look! My pass says I’m a special guest! I’m stoked!
We decided to empty our bladders before heading out for our tour. Now, which restroom should I use? Wait a minute…
Night vision monocular in hand, I got to check out my first of many penguins:
Look at all these penguin tracks! We were in for a treat.
Sunset looking over Western Port Bay:
Before driving off, they ask you to check for penguins under your car:
And then they ask you to check again:
Ok. All clear!