5 years ago | Phillip Island, Victoria, AU | 27th December 2017
Five years ago, I took my Northern-ness as far south as I’ve ever been – to Phillip Island off the south coast of Australia…
At 38°29′S, you can only be stood further south if you\re in other parts of Australia, in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina or Antarctica. If we’re being picky, you can add the Falkland Islands to that list.
We were there to watch the island’s famous Penguin Parade, a nightly spectacle in which large numbers of the native Little Penguin (Eudyptula novaehollandiae) swim ashore at dusk after a day’s fishing. As part of the Phillip Island Nature Park, the Penguin Parade is the only commercial venue in the world where you can see penguins in their own environment.
The predictability of the event makes for a great spectacle but it also means the penguins are targets for marine predators so they’re understandably nervous as they approach the shoreline and, as a result, the thousands present are expressly forbidden from any form of photography once the light fades, as inadvertent camera flashes can scare them off, away from safety. That’s why you can’t see a penguin in this picture. Sadly not every visitor observed this rule quite as assiduously.
Once they emerge from the waves, they then walk along their well-worn paths to the myriad of nests that pepper the dunes beyond the beach. The paths are well-lit and allow visitors to watch the penguins closely, with some observation areas dug down, to raise the passing wildlife to eye level. Wallabies and other local fauna roam around, freely.
It was an amazing experience, well worth the travel tine it requires, being 70 miles south of Melbourne. If you’re ever in Victoria, it’s an absolute ‘must’ to add to your itinerary. Luckily, I’d heard about it before our trip to Australia. Even more luckily, we had a friend who was able to take us there.
You can view the Park’s YouTube channel (with live coverage of each night’s parade – around 9am in the UK) here: