Australia

Travel Journal (9/24/2019): Seeing the Little Penguins of Phillip Island

Today we decided to take an impromptu tour based on some feedback that we got while we were in Cairns. We were told that one of the must-do adventures while in the Melbourne area is to go and see the penguins on Phillip Island, so that is what we decided to do today.

People gather to wait for the little penguins to return

This would be just my second occasion seeing penguins in the wild (after seeing some in the Galapagos Islands last year), and my wife’s first time seeing them wild, so it would be a very neat experience for us.

The little penguins, as they are do affectionately called, are the smallest penguins in the world. They can only be found in parts of Australia and New Zealand. There used to be roughly eight colonies on Phillip Island, but now only one remains.

Because they are so small, the penguins have to wait until dark to return to land from the ocean. They need to avoid predatory birds such as eagles and sea hawks before returning to the burrows they make on land. They make this night march on the same beach every night.

We booked our Phillip Island penguins tour thru a company named AATKings. When we booked the tour we were told that this company has the most updated fleet of buses, but they didn’t have working WiFi on the bus and the driver mentioned that it hasn’t been working in some time. This was a bit frustrating for us as we would be spending quite a bit of time in the bus on this tour.

The coastline of Phillip Island

The other thing that really frustrated me with this tour is how little they mentioned up-front about Phillip Island’s policy on photographing and taking video of the penguins. We were not told ahead of time that you cannot photograph the penguins when it becomes dark.

We probably still would have booked a tour to see the penguins on Phillip Island, but we probably wouldn’t have spent the extra money to upgrade to the plus seating. They only reason we did that was to get closer to take photographs of the penguins coming out of the ocean. Everyone can see the penguins once they get out and make their way inland.

Other than those two minor things, we really enjoyed the tour. Our tour guide was really nice and extremely knowledgable and seeing the tiny penguins in the wild was an amazing experience.

Koala at Maru Koala Park

In addition to visiting Phillip Island to see the penguins, we also stopped at Maru Koala Park, where we saw koalas, dingos, kangaroos, and a wide variety of other animals that are native to Australia. By far the highlight of that stop was getting to pet and feed the kangaroos, which was amazing.

Feeding the kangaroos at the Maru Koala Park

That’s it for today’s update and for our time in Australia. Tomorrow morning we get up bright and early to catch a flight to New Zealand. We fly into Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island and then will be driving to our first destination, which is Lake Tekapo. Until then!

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