It was a Christmas Eve to remember, celebrating not only with my family but also cute Little Penguins on Phillip Island, Victoria. The night was full of excitement and anticipation as we waited two hours on the windy Phillip Island beach for the sun to set and the penguins to come ashore for the Penguin Parade. We secured the best seats on the beach, right next to those who had reserved tickets that cost more. Sitting on the sand, wrapped up in jackets, and armed with binoculars we waited with over 200 other people, all eager to see the world’s smallest penguins.
At last, at around 9 pm we saw the first glimpse of a group of 10 or so penguins in the ocean and swimming towards us. But seagulls wanting an even better glimpse of the nightly event had created somewhat of a barricade on the water’s edge, confusing the penguins and making it difficult for them to get through. Eventually, a lone brave penguin pushed through and paved the way for his comrades to go up the beach, past the squabbling seagulls.
More and more groups of 10-15 penguins gathered at the water’s edge, waiting for each other before going up to their nests. The penguins, with their suit like coats, waddled past us, with I must say a lot of swagger. They were super cute even when they stumbled. We were sitting closest to wear it was barricaded so we had a perfect view with no heads in our way, it really pays to be one of the early ones to get there and take up a good seat on the beach.
After 20 minutes we headed up to the boardwalk to get an even closer look and follow hundreds of penguins returning home from a day out fishing. On the boardwalk you can see them within touching distance (but don’t touch they bite), as they parade past you, searching for their sand dune burrows, stopping only to preen themselves before returning home. It’s a noisy affair with mothers and chicks calling out to each other and quarrelling neighbours. I saw a mother feed her baby chick and it was absolutely adorable.
Back at the centre I toured the display with facts and figures about the Little Penguin. The highlight was the see-through boxes which were in fact man-made penguin nests that penguins occupied. So I could now see them in great detail which was super cool. However, this meant that the display room had an unpleasant smell.
Finally, I visited the gift shop and bought a souvenir booklet with cute pictures and facts about these adorable little birds to remember my stay as unfortunately photography of the penguins is not allowed. As a lover of cute little animals, this undoubtedly will forever be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and most certainly a very memorable Christmas Eve.
For more information go to http://www.penguins.org.au