A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

P... P... P...Pick up a Penguin!......Don't worry we didn't.

Visiting Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade!

It was time to go and check out the Fairy penguins at Phillip Island!

Knowing it was a good 2 hour drive away we got ourselves up relatively early so that we could make a day of it. We hit the road and en route chatted about campfire songs to learn for our future camp trips. It wasn't long before signs for Phillip Island appeared on the Highway but we had a little longer to go and so Broomy took the time to catch up on some much needed shut-eye after a boozy day and night the day before.


To our disappointment as we got closer and closer to the Island it started to rain and the weather got worse...


and worse...


so much so that when we stopped for petrol I was beginning to think we should have come more prepared for the poor weather....but no ....we're British and we must soldier on, come rain or shine!

When we crossed the bridge on to the island we realised we didn't really have a map to follow or know where the penguin parade was situated on the island.


It would probably be a good idea to stop for some info but as Broomy said 'there's the tourist information', we had already passed it, and Broomy said 'There it goes" to which we burst out laughing...oh well we would have use our instincts. It wasn't hard as it turns out there is only one road that circles the island.

After familiarising ourselves with where things were and locating where we would need to go for the penguin parade, we made our way to Nobbies centre. The Nobbies Centre is an ecotourism destination located at Point Grant, on the western tip of Phillip Island. The centre features boardwalks outside overlooking Seal Rock, The Nobbies (a collection of rock islands), and includes The Blowhole which is a cave in the rock that has been eroded by the bashing of the sea.


It was pretty grim when we got to The Nobbies Centre and I think Broomy was in need of a pick me up so we sat in the cafe with a coffee and had a look around at the educational displays. You were able to pay to look at the Seal Cam which overlooked Seal Rock but it was a bit over priced and we managed to zoom in with our camera to take a look. Seal Rock holds Australia’s largest colony of fur seals with an estimated 16,000 inhabiting the area.


Some interesting facts came out from the displays such as Australian Fur Seals having a very effective insulation system which keeps them warm when they dive down to depths of 200m. It also revealed some stark facts regarding Seal Hunting that occurred across the Bass Strait which decimated the seal population. Over 240,000 Fur Seal skins had been exported between the period of 1798 to 1830 and Sealers continued to operate in the Bass Strait through to the 1920's until Australian legislation in the 1970's helped save these beautiful mammals.


I mean how could you skin one of these!


Given that we had come to the island to be outdoors we were getting a bit despondent, when miraculously the weather started to clear. YAY!!


With coffee in the system we ventured out onto the boardwalks and take a look at these little hutches made up over the hill side which Broomy explained were made to help the penguins who reside on the coastline survive.


We were even able to spot a few inside......you can just about see the little fella.


The coastline is amazing too, although a bit cold in the wind!



This is Nobbies Blowhole...


This is a cave that has been carved into the coastline by the action of the waves. When a wave smashes into it, it compresses all the air inside. this combined with the force as the wave rebounds off the back wall creates a jet of spray bursting out from the tunnel entrance.

After we left Nobbies the weather really picked up and we saw out in one of the bays some surfers taking advantage of some fantastic breaks for beginners. It made me wish we had a wetsuit and board so we could give it a go.


We drove on to the main town called Cowes, where most of the amenities are on the island. We were buzzing for some Fish and Chips to help soothe hangovers and hunger and found our way to one on the main strip. Although when we went in to order we were met by an old dear who was adamant that we had to get our order in quick so she could go back and have a rest before her next shift started. It doesn't matter if you're in a small town in UK or Oz the folk are always are happy to let you know how they feel. :-)


With the sun out we took our lunch to some benches that looked out over the Bay and were quickly surrounded by a group of seagulls eager to grab a cheap eat from one of us.


Although happy as larry with our lunch.....


We had to keep an eye on it.


After we had our fill we toyed with the seagulls as they flew around us trying to grab whatever they could.


It was such a good day by this point what a difference a few hours can make!


Broomy and me preparing for retirement...


The day had gone pretty quickly and we soon had to make our way to the Penguin Parade as the sun began to set. The reason that you aim to be at the parade come dusk is that the penguins only head back inland at night to avoid any predators taking advantage of their vulnerable position on the beach.

We tried to imagine how long it would take them to get up the beach by giving it a go at the entrance.


We knew before we came to the Parade that there is a no photos policy when watching the penguins, which although isn't ideal because you want the memories, however I preferred it because the penguins wouldn't be there if flashes were going off and to be frank its likely no-one would be able to get a good shot in the low light.


But before the parade we could still take photos around the visitors center and during the lead up to the first penguin sighting.

The visitors center was set up well and had displays explaining the different kinds of Penguins. Sarah was glad that the Prehistoric Eocene Penguin was no longer around otherwise she would have met her match.


The center has also set up hutches for the penguins that you can look into without them knowing and so you got a close up of the little fellas chilling in their home.


Some of the facts about the penguins was pretty impressive as they are able to dive to depths of 72 meters and the longest dive recorded was 1:56 minutes.

Out of all the penguin species I think the RockHopper takes the lead with its cool name and hairdo.


I knew these weren't real! Honest!


As we congregated by the entrance to the beach the signs told us how many penguins had been sighted and what was going on in their world as the start of spring was the beginning of breeding season. Monogamy is not a rule these little guys adhere too with an annual divorce rate of 18%-50%, you see I did take in the displays.


It was soon time for the doors to open for us to make our way to the stands... penguins this way!!


The boardwalks out to the beach made the walk very easy and we found a spot near the front. It was going to be a bit of a wait and in hindsight we hadnt come fully prepared in terms of clothing....But cups of tea and coffee in hand we were as positive as ever.


As we waited we managed to spot our first wallaby in the distance and a seagull with no feet whilst playing the universal game of eye spy with my little eye.


A few announcements were made before the sun left with the main message being you were not allowed to use cameras or phones as it would scare the Penguins...and the guy on the PA meant it!


So we don't have any pictures after this as we weren't allowed but I can tell you it was fun watching the little penguins make the charge out of the surf to make a dash for it before suddenly bottling it and running back to the safety of the water. When they did eventually make it passed the beach they were hopping all around the boardwalks and you could get real close and watch. The noises they made were not what you'd expect either, kind of like a donkey with a cold!

It was a fun day out and great to have some time out of the city, Sarah got a new hoodie to replace the one she left on a plane almost a year ago and Broomy was able to shrug off the appalling hangover.....well not really, but he gave it a good shot the little trooper. Cheers for joining us mate.

Stay tuned for more tales


Posted by doyledan 07:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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