Get Up Close and Personal With Penguins at the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre

The Penguin Parade is one of the most sought after activities on Phillip Island. Surrounded by incredible natural beauty, you get to watch the little penguins come in from the sea and waddle up the beach at sunset. Each day they make this journey to bed down for the night, and the Penguin Parade lets you see it up close and personally.

As well as getting to see the penguins in the flesh, you can explore the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre, which promises an educational experience where you can learn about the penguins, their behaviour, and their history.

The History of Phillip Island

Back in the day, Phillip Island was a deserted region bursting with an array of native flora and fauna. The region was so uninhabited by humans, even the ancient Aboriginals named the Bunurong tribe, only visited this region during the muttonbird season to hunt. Leaving the island an animal paradise away from any disturbance. However, this all changed when the European explorer George Bass discovered the island in 1798. After this sighting, the region was used mostly for seal hunting and sheep herding, until a new settlement opened in 1868.

The settlement took quite some time to prosper, with drought making the terrain harsh for crops. Little of the farm fields grew, with many of the locals running out of water and supplies. Forcing many to leave their new homes to head back to nearby towns. Luckily, the colony’s luck improved, with particular crops growing and tourism flourishing due to the local wildlife.

The History of the Penguin Parade

Humans have been viewing the Little Penguins waddling up Phillip Island’s shores for around 100 years. With the first official viewing organisation starting in the 1920s. Local trio Bert West, Bern Denham, and Bert Watchorn opened the first official viewing, naming the region the Summerland Beach. With visitors charged five shillings for a wildlife experience, and an extra shilling for fresh strawberries and cream to enjoy while it took place.

The tourist activity became increasingly popular, with families bringing a picnic and dogs, couple laying out blankets, and groups setting up beach chairs. The region became so popular, that others wanted to remain here forever, leading to a line of beach houses built right along the Summerland Beach.

However, this actually created a huge negative effect on the penguins. With the dogs killing the nearby penguins, and the houses devastating the colonies natural habitat including their burrows.

Thankfully, Phillip Island altered their tourism industry, blending together the facilities with the natural habitat. They took down all the houses that were built in the region and set up fences and a strictly no dog policy. The platforms were built to go with the sandy shores and bushland perfectly, as not to interfere with the waddling penguins. Leading to a sustainable environment for the Little Penguins.

Penguin Parade Visitor Centre

Penguin Parade Visitor Centre

The Penguin Parade is one of the best eco-tourism facilities in existence, welcoming over 700, 000 visitors every year. Before the parade begins, you’ll have ample time to wander through the exhibitions soaking up the information on offer and prepare yourself for one of the most amazing natural experiences in the country. This information centre details the daily lives of the Little Penguins as well as what makes them so unique. Showcasing the largest colony of little penguins, and the history and culture of their homeland.

After learning all you can about these fascinating creatures, you can also grab a bite to eat at the on-site café before the viewing begins.

The Main Viewing Platform

The main viewing platform at the Penguin Parade exposes you to a 180-degree view of the cute critters, where you will have uninterrupted access as they cross the beach to their sand dune burrows. It is nestled right along the sandy shore, giving visitors a front-row view into the epic wildlife experience.

The Penguin Plus Upgrade

If you want something a little more special, you can opt for the Penguins Plus experience, which boasts a platform created to blend in with the natural surroundings. Here, you’ll be able to get an up-close view of the penguins, as well as a detailed commentary on their lives and habitats. This area is limited to just 300 people, creating an exclusive experience. There is also commentary in this upgrade, with an expert guide detailing the habits and features of these incredible penguins.

The Underground Viewing

Alternatively, you can watch from underground from the subterranean viewing platform. Due to its limited size, only 70 people get the chance to watch the penguins waddle along the beach from below, giving you the most intimate encounter with these magnificent creatures. As it is a small viewing section, you must make sure you book before your arrival, as the seats sell out fast.

The Sky Box Viewing

Finally, there’s the Penguin Sky Box, where you can watch the parade unfold from above. The elevated viewing platform looks over the route the penguins take, and visitors are encouraged to join in with the rangers as they count the critters.

All of these experiences are available from the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre, as well as a number of guided tours that give you a chance to really get to know these fascinating creatures. However you decide to experience the parade, don’t forget to bolster your trip by learning more about the penguins and their environment in the Visitors Centre displays, which give you unrivalled access to research, findings, and conservation projects that are happening at the moment.

Check out the Top Things to Do on Phillip Island.

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