The Penguin Parade with Kids| Phillip Island
While on our most recent family trip to Melbourne, we knew we wanted to see penguins. What we had in mind though was the Sea Life Aquarium. We didn’t imagine that on a Wednesday morning we would decide on a spur of the moment trip to visit the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island. Yes! Spontaneity is still possible while travelling with kids. This is how we ended up on a last minute road trip to Phillip Island penguin parade with young kids.
Read on for our experience of the penguin parade during our Melbourne travels.
Last minute decisions
On a Tuesday night while in Melbourne, we found out about Phillip Island and it’s penguin parade. We headed to bed not having made any plans. The next morning we quickly agreed that it’d be crazy to miss this experience. If previous travels have taught us anything, it’d be that seeing animals in the wild leaves long lasting memories. David jumped online to book accommodation while I made a phone call to book tickets.
This spontaneous trip meant the excitement was building up and the penguin parade was something we didn’t want to miss. A couple of phone calls later the staff at the Phillip Island Nature Parks advised us they had plenty of tickets for all the multiple viewing options. The staff refused to book me over the phone as tickets for the underground viewing area were bountiful and could be picked up on arrival.
So off we went on our road trip to Phillip Island. First stop, coffee. Next , the Koala Conservation Park in Phillip Island.
As soon as we arrived we headed to the Koala Conservation Park. Unfortunately, much to my surprise, I was not able to get tickets to the underground viewing I was earlier told not to book over the phone. You can imagine my disappointment and frustration! Especially when one of the staff members was responsible for what I imagined meant missing our best possible experience. I had also envisioned having the boys in the underground area, nice and cozy away from the wind and cold of the beach, but this was not to be.
There was not much I could do at this point so we purchased the general viewing tickets. At the entrance of the Koala Conservation Park I was able to purchase a bundle ticket which included the Penguin Parade , Antarctic Journey, the Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
We spent about one hour walking through the Koala Conservation Park. There are multiple walks you can do and the centre is accessible with a pram. We opted for the shortest ones through the two boardwalks as they were particularly easy to navigate with the kids and we were also short in time. You can also do bird watching here.
We quickly moved on to our main event: the penguin parade!! At this point we were running a bit late. Luckily Phillip Island is only small so it wasn’t a long drive between the Koala Conservation Park and the penguin parade.
Once we arrived to the car park it was amazing to see the number of people that had arrived to see these little creatures. Also I was once again concerned and upset over not getting tickets to the underground viewing platform. I worried it was so busy we wouldn’t be able to see much. When you walk into the building there is a fantastic educational display. However we decided to walk straight through the entrance and head to the viewing platforms instead to secure our spot. There’d be enough time to check out the displays and gift shop at the end of our night.
Meant to be?
As you walk through the boardwalk you first pass the entry for underground viewing ticket holders. As you continue on, you come across the first general viewing platform and then a second one. The first seemed quite busy so we continued on to the second one where not many people had yet arrived. We started to walk down the steps and then a ranger mentioned there were seats further down which is closer to the beach. We spotted an empty line of seats on the second row, which much to the surprise and annoyance of those sitting in the third row, turned out to be perfect. Also the first row was blocked off with reserved signs. Later the people occupying the reserved spots arrived and much to or delight no one ended up sitting in front of us. We ended up sitting right at the front with full view of the beach!
The penguin parade begins!
Once we sat down we had a fair wait until sunset which is when the penguins start to arrive. As it got closer to the time, the rangers ensured no cameras or phones were out. They also made sure people weren’t loud. We waited roughly for about 40 minutes. It wasn’t hard to keep our 3 year old content however our 9 month old was constantly wriggling. Luckily that was the most challenging time we had while there. I previously wondered if we’d be able to enjoy it and how Javi would cope. Once the first penguin was spotted, the look of excitement and amazement on his little face settled all my worries. He eagerly stayed in his seat watching the first little penguin make his way up the beach. Then he continued to look on waiting for the appearance of another among the waves.
We sat and watched the penguins come in for at least 20 minutes. I had imagined we’d see hundreds but this wasn’t the case. They seemed to come in small groups of 8/10 penguins. It is possible you will see more at the more costly viewing platforms as they are probably located in the penguins favourite path.
The sweetest ending
Once you have viewed the penguins make their way to the beach and up the dunes, the rangers encourage you to head to the boardwalks. So we did. On the boardwalks you get to hear them call out to their mate. We were surprised to spot some penguins continuing their way to their burrows. When on the stands the wind was minimal but once on the boardwalks we quickly got cold and it started to rain. We hurried towards the entrance. As we were making our way back we stopped again. We spotted a procession of penguins walking adjacent to the boardwalk. They were so close to us! We continued to watch them come and we even followed some as they made their way down the path all the day to near the entrance. It was truly a beautiful experience, and to us, this felt like the true penguin parade.
So overall, despite the initial disappointment, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the Penguin Parade in Phillip Island with our young kids. We didn’t leave feeling as though we missed out. Quite the opposite actually! We felt relieved we didn’t pay almost 3 times more than what we did and feel confident that we wouldn’t change a thing. Lastly, I really believe this is an experience you won’t want to miss taking your little kids to.
Have you had any similar experiences? Disappointments and triumphs? Share with us below!