‘Take a waddle on the wild side’ – Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Heh. Every time I see that quote it makes me chuckle. Anyway…
I won’t deny that my decision to take this tour on my 24th birthday was born out of pure nostalgia because, well, it was. And even though Phillip Island is home to more than just the Penguin Parade – it also hosts the Australian Moto GP on its Grand Prix Circuit – it is for the parade that I took this tour. After all, it is something I had seen when I was first brought out to Australia by my dad and step-mum on my 6th birthday, hence the nostalgia making me want to visit once more.
As with the Great Ocean Road and Grampians tour (pt.1 & pt.2), this Phillip Island tour was arranged through Wildlife Tours, although it didn’t require quite as early a start as the last tours! Nevertheless, I still ended up spending the majority of the drive fast asleep.
As the Penguin Parade doesn’t occur until after sunset, the day’s itinerary was built around filling the time with different stops and activities on the drive down to Phillip Island. The first of these was a stop off at a small wildlife centre that featured Koala’s, Wombats, Tasmanian Devil’s and, of course, Kangaroo’s. Unlike the other wildlife, the Kangaroo’s sanctuary was very much like an open field, and they had all split off into little groups, lazying around in the midday sun.
The next couple of stops on the way were generic sight-seeing photo opportunities. There wasn’t really anything special about them, but they also weren’t the worst things in the world. That is, of course, until we approached our final destination and a couple of really good quick-fire stops were provided to us.
The first was a choice of a chocolate tour or heading to Woolamai beach, of which I picked the latter and I am glad that I did. That is because it is a popular surf beach on Phillip Island, and there were plenty of surfers out that day trying to catch some waves, which meant for some great photo opportunities!
The next stop was a walk around the head of Phillip Island, where we were able to watch the sunset over the horizon from a great vantage point.
Of course, as I previously mentioned, this was all very much a precursor to the main event of the Phillip Island tour; the Penguin Parade. There are two seating options for the penguin parade, general admission and penguin plus – the latter costs an additional $25 and I would wholly encourage you to spend that little bit extra, because it is what makes the evening that bit more special!
The first thing I realised upon arriving at the viewing platform is just how different the whole set-up seemed to be in comparison to the last time I was here. Not that that should have surprised me much considering it had been 18yrs and I don’t have the best of memories anyway. What hadn’t changed though, was the amazing moment when the first of the penguins arrive on shore and begin their waddle up to their little homes. This is also the moment that really shows that spending the additional $25 is worth it because, whilst I was able to witness over 100 penguins arrive from my position, those in my tour group who were in general admission said that they only saw a handful arrive on the beach at most.
After that, it was a hop in the bus for the drive back home. A good tour, but not a great one. Still, seeing the penguins are something else, so if you can get yourself down to Phillip Island for the parade I don’t think you will regret it.