Na­ture at Phillip is­land

Where Melbourne - - Contents - By Jenny Burns

ONE OF THE BEST ways to spend an evening 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 of­fer 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.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on Phillip Is­land phone 5951 2800 or visit pen­

Photo: Phillip Is­land Na­ture Parks.

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