If you are in the Melbourne, Australia area and you are looking for a fun and unique part-day excursion to enjoy, then the Phillip Island Penguin Parade may be just what you are looking for. On this small stretch of coastline in Southern Australia, the world’s smallest penguin is the area’s biggest attraction. Because of their small size and relatively clumsy disposition on land, the Phillip Island penguins spend the majority of their time at sea. However, they do need to come back to land each day to rest and feed their young. Smartly, they do this at night when the eyesight of the birds of prey in the area is less sharp and the penguins are more protected.
Because the parade of penguins from the sea to their burrows on land is so predictable with the setting sun, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade has become one of Southern Australia’s most popular wildlife tourist attractions. People come from all over the world to see these tiny penguins waddle out of the water and parade their way past adoring spectators to their waiting burrows. Both the cuteness and uniqueness of seeing this amazing wildlife event make it one of the most compelling day trips for tourists visiting the Melbourne area.
In this guide, I am going to give you all of the information you need to plan a successful trip to see the Phillip Island Penguins. I will outline how to get to the Penguin Parade, what times of year are best to visit, help you decide whether to visit on your own or use a tour group to visit, let you know what you should bring on your day trip to see the Penguin Parade, and how and when you are allowed to photograph the penguins during your visit. With this information in hand, you are certain to have an adventure that you will remember for your lifetime.
About the Phillip Island Penguin Parade
The Penguin Parade is a wildlife attraction on Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia that attracts a large number of tourists each year. Each night as the sun sets, the tiny penguins emerge from the ocean to make their way back to their burrows on shore. If you think about it, their reluctance to leave the water until the sun goes down makes sense because these tiny penguins are far less susceptible to predators in the cover of darkness. This is especially true of the area’s birds of prey, who rely heavily on their eyesight to hunt and would love to catch a penguin for a meal. Because this parade of penguins from sea-to-land is so predictable with the sunset, visitors have flocked to Phillip Island to witness this amazing wildlife event.
While the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island is the marquee wildlife attraction, the island does have over 100 different species of wildlife for viewers to see and enjoy. In fact, within the Phillip Island Wildlife Park, visitors can see Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas, Emus, the infamous Cassowary, and fur seals, among others. If you are planning to visit Phillip Island to see the penguins, I would also suggest that you plan some extra time to drive the coastline and see some of the islands other amazing wildlife. If you are in the process of planning your trip, I have included a map below that outlines some of the popular viewpoints on the southern side of Phillip Island near the Penguin Parade.
Getting to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade
If you are in the Melbourne, Australia area, you are in luck because Phillip Island is only a short 2-hour drive South of the city. If you are visiting Australia from outside of the country and would like to see the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, I would suggest flying into Melbourne because it is the closest large city with an international airport. For those of you who are starting to put together the logistics of their trip to Australia, I have included an area map that shows the location of the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island in relation to the larger Melbourne area for you to review below.
Visiting On Your Own
For those of you who are planning on visiting on your own to see the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, you will want to make sure that you plan ahead so that you can get the tickets you want. There are three different tiers of tickets, which each give you access to a different viewing area upon which to view the Penguin Parade. The cheapest ticket option is General Viewing, which gives you access to two large tiered seating areas from which to view the penguins. While you can see the penguins from this viewing area, you are the furthest away from where the largest concentration of penguins pass on their way to their burrows. The middle ticket option is what is called Penguins Plus. This ticket gives you access to a separate viewing platform that is a lot closer to where the largest concentration of penguins typically passes. This is the ticket that we booked when we visited and we were very happy with the viewpoint that we had to see the Penguin Parade.
However, if you would like a really neat vantage point when you visit to see the penguins, you can look into purchasing a ticket for the Underground Viewing. The underground viewing areas are located directly below the Penguins Plus platform and give you an eye-level view of the penguins thru glass windows as they parade right past you. It looks like a really neat experience if you can afford the tickets. To give you a better understanding of where the viewing areas are and where the penguins tend to go when they get on shore, I have included a map for you to review below.
Pro Tip: There will be a lot of jostling for the best seats on the platforms as the sun begins to set. I would recommend not getting too caught up in finding a front row seat to see the penguins. As the penguins make their way inland after coming out of the ocean, they will head further inland towards their burrows. There is plenty of room to find a spot alongside a railing on the pathways further inland where you will get just as good of a view of the penguins as you do from the platforms near the water.
Taking A Tour
If you would prefer to have someone else manage the logistics of your visit to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, there are a number of great tours that you can take to see the penguins from the Melbourne area. Many of these tours are half-day trips that also include stops at a wildlife sanctuary on the way so that you can see Kangaroos, Koalas, and other native Australian wildlife during your excursion. If you are interested in exploring tour options for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, I have included a link to some tour options and reviews on TripAdvisor.
Best Time to Visit the Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Average Temperature by Month (F)
Because Phillip Island is located on the Southern coast of Australia, the winters on the island tend to be much chillier than you will find in the tropical North and other more temperate parts of Australia. The weather typically doesn’t drop below freezing in the winter months of June thru August, but it is not uncommon to see temperatures dip into the lower 40’s and upper 30’s. If you are planning on visiting during these months, you will need to make sure you bring the proper warm weather gear. The summer months of December thru February are typically much warmer, with high temperatures that reach into the mid-70’s and low temperatures that don’t usually drop below the mid-50’s. Seeing the Phillip Island Penguin Parade during the summer months or the shoulder months of March-April or October-November is a much more comfortable experience.
Average Precipitation by Month (Inches)
Not only are the summer months typically the warmest months of the year on Phillip Island, they are usually also the driest months of the year on the island. In fact, during these months the island typically only sees one third of the precipitation that it sees during the winter months of June thru August. The penguins will parade all year regardless of the weather, but if you would like to maximize your chances of seeing this amazing wildlife event in comfortable weather conditions, I would strongly recommend that you consider scheduling your visit either during the summer months of December thru February or the shoulder month of March.
What To Bring With You
A part from deciding when and how you are going to visit the, the most important preparations you will need to make in visiting the Phillip Island Penguin Parade is deciding what you will need to bring with you when you visit. Depending on how long you plan to spend in the Phillip Island Nature Park enjoying all of the beautiful viewpoints and looking for wildlife, you could potential do quite a bit of walking during your visit. Not only that, but chances are that you will be spending a good deal of time in the evening sitting and waiting for the penguins to come on shore. If you don’t wear the right clothing, you could be left in an uncomfortable position walking or get chilly waiting for the parade. In order to assist you in determining which clothing and equipment to bring with you, I have created a packing list for you to review below.
- Light Jacket.
- Light Pants or Zip-Off Pants if you would like to wear shorts during the day.
- Rain poncho, Rain Jacket, or Small Umbrella.
- Small Blanket or Cushion to sit on.
- Small backpack with snack.
- Camera or Camcorder (these can only be used during the day).
Photographing the Wildlife
There are a lot of great photography opportunities when you visit Phillip Island. In addition to the amazing wildlife that lives on the island, there are plenty of scenic lookouts and viewpoints that you will want to photograph as well. If you are looking for some tips on how to make the most of your photography while on the island, I have included links to some of my more popular photography guides for you to review below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While you are allowed to photograph and video as much as you want during the day, as soon as the sun goes down you are not allowed to use any photography or video equipment.
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If you would like to see some of the wonderful photographs that I was able to take during my visit to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade, I have included a gallery for you to review below.
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