Phillip Island: Penguins a Hop Away from Melbourne

November 17, 2017

Melbourne has all the trappings of a delightful cosmopolitan city – a world-famous coffee culture, wonderful green spaces, galleries, markets and storied shopping arcades for having a stroll along – but just a couple of hours from the centre of Melbourne lies Phillip Island, home to a colony of some of the world’s tiniest penguins.

Phillip Island

These cute little creatures, which are known as Fairy Penguins, waddle past you as they come in from the ocean back to their sand-dune burrows and it is a delight to sit and watch them go about their business. To preserve the environment and make sure the penguins are not overly disturbed, it is only small tour groups that are allowed to watch them up close on a guided tour – all the better for the experience, as you truly feel like you’ve got a window onto the joys of nature. The sheer number of penguins makes for a truly remarkable sight. This is one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia.

The penguins are native to Australia and the smallest ones clock in at as little as 33 centimetres, about the same size as a small classroom ruler! There are up to 32,000 of them living in the area around the island, swimming up to 100 kilometres each day before they come back to the beach at dusk. If witnessing the penguins in action has you hungry for further animal encounters, you can also go face to face with koalas on Phillip Island at the Koala Conservation Centre. Stroll along the tree-top boardwalks and watch this cuddly native species in action, as well as making your way through beautiful natural Aussie bush land which is home to abundant bird life, wallabies and echidnas, to name just a few.

In addition to the wildlife, Phillip Island has a wealth of other things to do. It is an ideal day trip from a base in the centre of Melbourne. You can go fishing off the local pier, get on a board and surf the waters or just splash about on the gorgeous beaches. Time your visit for March if you can: that way you can also enjoy the island’s Festival of Motorsport on its famous racing circuit.

It is also good to know that Phillip Island Nature Parks is active in research, environmental conservation and educational projects which will preserve the habitat of these quirky critters for future visitors to enjoy.

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