Phillip Island: Nature Delights
ONE OF THE BEST ways to spend an autumn night is to watch Phillip Island’s amazingly cute little penguins come ashore from a day’s fishing and waddle to their sand dune burrows.
Fortunately there are many different ways to see this very appealing natural phenomenon as the Phillip Island Nature Parks offers seven options catering for all budgets and interests. These range from general viewing (that is sitting on stands on the beach watching the penguins leave the water) to exclusive ranger led tours. Having experienced a number of these tours one of the newer options— Underground Viewing—has become one of my favourites.
Not only does it offer wonderful views of the penguins but it’s also protected from the elements! Built below the newly constructed Penguin Plus viewing stand, this bunker style building features a 25-metre viewing window which looks out at ground level onto the path many of the penguins take from the water to their burrows.
Watching the reaction of the hundreds of penguins taking the path to the window was fascinating. Some ignored it, some came up very close for a look and a couple even bumped into it, ensuring some magical penguin viewing experiences.
A ranger explained what we could expect before the arrival of the first penguins and then walked around the group explaining the behaviours we were seeing.
Twenty minutes after the arrival of the first penguins we could leave the bunker and head up to the Penguin Plus stands which meant we could hear the many and varied noises the penguins were making. They are a noisy bunch!
Given numbers on Underground Viewing are limited to 70 it’s a good idea to book early. The same advice applies to all penguin watching options as demand is extremely high.
The new viewing area is one of several new initiatives at Phillip Island over the last year or so. Another is the Antarctic Journey, located at the Nobbies. It uses numerous interactive and immersive experiences to explain and explore Antarctica.
A joint venture between Phillip Island Nature Parks and Wwf-australia, the exhibition includes numerous hands-on activities and a multimedia experience. Together with some great audio-visual footage of Antarctica, this area also features impressive ‘augmented reality’ technology, which creates the illusion of being able to touch a penguin, stroke a seal and see a killer whale up close.
Tickets to the Antarctic Journey can be purchased individually or as part of the four park super pass. The pass also includes entry to the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Centre where you can see koalas close up in their natural habitat and the historic Churchill Island.
Phillip Island is around 90 minutes from Melbourne. There are numerous accommodation options on the island while tour bus companies run daily tours.