Phillip Island

Penguin Parade

Two fairy penguins at night

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

The Phillip Island penguin parade occurs at dusk when the Phillip Island fairy penguins return to shore.

You hear a voice cry: "Look! Over there!" And necks crane, eyes strain hard to see. But in the gentle surf at Phillip Island at sunset it is impossible to recognise what it is in the water. A head, a beak perhaps, a tiny wing...

No sooner is the first cry heard when it is followed by another. You look out to sea and, yes, there’s something there, some movement, something ... and suddenly not just one but many...

And a hush of expectancy falls.

They come as if riding on the surf, and you can pick them out now.

And they're coming home

On a patch of sand not too far away you now glimpse a pair of wobbly feet. You can see the bird then, a tiny bird, a litle penguin, a fairy penguin.

Another comes on shore, and another, and another, and soon the beach is alive with these birds.

They have had their day foraging out at sea and now they are coming home.

They walk across the sand in small groups (some almost in single file), as if in a triumphant march, and they head for their home in the dunes.

It is the Phillip Island penguin parade.

An awesome sight to see

Wave after wave they come from the sea and waddle, like only penguins can, across the sand of Summerland Beach on Phillip Island.

They arrive in their hundreds, these tiny, frail-looking birds who’ve braved the seas, and are now coming home.

They are an awesome sight to see, this massive avian display before the dark finally swallows the sea and earth and sky.

And you pray for Someone, please, Someone, please look after these tiny brave ocean explorers and see that they come home, always, to their home on the shore.

Easily accessible

The penguin parade on Philllip Island, two hours out of Melbourne, draws people from many parts of the world to this unique real-Nature experience.

In fact, Victoria’s Phillip Island and its fairy penguins are the second most popular tourist attraction in Australia, after Uluru in the Northern Territory.

Phillip Island’s strong advantage -- over, say, cavorting with the dolphins at Monkey Mia in Western Australia -- is that it’s easily accessible.

Getting to Phillip Island

From Melbourne, it’s no more than a two-hour drive over 137 kilometres of sealed roads -- you cross The Narrows from San Remo to Newhaven, and you’re on the island. You can take a quick trip to Phillip Island and return to Melbourne just after nightfall.

  • Take the Princess Highway (M1) southeast out of Melbourne, turn off at Dandenong and travel southeast on the South Gippsland Highway (M420). Watch for the A420 intersection and continue south on the A420. Follow the signs to Phillip Island through the town of San Remo.

The penguin parade takes place at Summerland Beach, close to the southwestern tip of the island, just before the lilght of day is completely gone.

There are areas for viewing the fairy penguins and it is best to book beforehand at a Melbourne visitor centre, through your hotel receptionist, or by contacting the Penguin Reserve on 5956 8300.

  • Find Suitable Accommodation on Phillip Island

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