Visit Victoria

Pondering Penguins

By Daniel Eriksson

I always thought of penguins as aloof, majestic creatures. Serious looking and a little intimidating in their stark environment. They feel quite tall though it is hard to tell; the good nature documentaries tend not to show them alongside anything with a familiar scale. Theirs is a harsh, unforgiving land at the very bottom-end of the Earth and they endure their lot stoically.

Or at least, that is what they felt like because I was was experiencing it from the very top of the northern hemisphere

So why then are these penguins about three apples tall, unbearably cute and on a beach? This is because we are in St Kilda, Melbourne and these are Little Penguins. The Little Penguin is the only species of penguin that breeds in Australia.

Phillip Island Nature Parks

Live Penguin parade

It is evening, and we're on the pier leading out to the breakwater. Among the rocks and sand, the little creatures, also known as Fairy Penguins, are making their way to and from the waterline. They are quite used to people; this is, after all, a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.

An inner seaside suburb of Melbourne, the Traditional Owners of St Kilda are the Yaluk-ut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. Your best access is via tram (the light rail system supporting inner Melbourne) as St Kilda is located some 6 kilometres from the conference centre. Though it would be worth a visit for the waterfront and pier alone, the area has much else on offer. Luna Park, with its iconic' walk through the mouth of a giant clown' entrance, is an amusement park in operation since 1912. For food and drink, Acland Street is stroll-friendly and lined with restaurants and famous cake shops. The cuisine is international and the cakes have a distinct European heritage. The coffee, though, is all Melbournian.

If the local colony of 1,400 adults just isn't enough penguins and you yearn for more, then fear not. Philip Island is home to an additional 30,000 Fairy Penguins if you are willing to travel a bit farther. Located about 90 minutes' drive from Melbourne, the star attraction is the 'Penguin Parade. This nature park offers a wide variety of activities, including self-guided or park ranger-led tours. One can remain at the visitor centre, where an underground viewing area allows the penguins to waddle right up to the window or head out on nightly tours of the beach to experience the birds in their element. Tickets can be purchased on-site at the visitor centre or booked ahead of time online.

So come on down under and you too can have your view of penguins receive a much-needed update!

If you are now inspired to visit St Kilda and the Little Penguins – write to marketing@iucr2023 and tell us in 25 words or less why you would like two free passes for an Ultimate Adventure Tour or a Family Wildlife Tour at Philip Island Nature Park.

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