Travelling has given us the opportunity to experience a host of the world’s most incredible experiences. Every country has at least one, unmissable experience that just captures your imagination and takes your breath away. One example of Australia’s unbelievable experiences is the Penguin Parade, just south of Melbourne in a place called Philip Island. This is an experience that allows us a rare glimpse into nature at it’s rawest.
The Penguin Parade is one of Australia’s most incredible experiences, and not something synonymous with the country that is famous for its sunshine and beaches. The Australian winter (June – August) in the southern reaches can be quite chilly. As such Southern Australia is home to a large colony of ‘fairy’ or ‘little’ penguins. These penguins are the smallest species, reaching the dizzy heights of just 33cm, and they are just unbelievably cute.
The fairy penguins nest in the grassland burrows next to the beach, and leave their homes early each morning for a full day at sea, fishing. But what everyone comes to see is essentially their return home. The company who run this remarkable experience have built a raised walkway above the penguins’ burrows, which leads to the beach. Here they have introduced a man-made amphitheatre that sits, half on the beach and half above the grasslands.
Here you sit and wait, as the sun sinks and the darkness falls, your gaze is drawn towards the shoreline. The waves crash into the sand and all of a sudden small black lumps that look like rocks seem to converge in the waves. Due to the distance and the fading light, it is very difficult to differentiate between the penguins and just your imagination (or eyes) playing tricks on you. As you’re second guessing the sight, suddenly a colony of penguins emerge from the waves together, ranging anywhere from a couple to over twenty.
The amphitheatre is silent, as the penguins assess if the route to their burrows is clear and safe. If they hear or feel that the route is in any way dangerous, they will re-submerge into the sea and wait! This is simply an act of nature, their joining together in a group is only for safety sake. When they are comfortable and secure that’s when the magic happens.
(Photograph courtesy Phillip Island Nature Parks)
A colony emerges and waddles up the beach into the bushland and back to their homes. This must seem like an endless journey for the tiny little creatures, each and every evening, but they make it!
This natural experience can occur a number of times throughout a single evening and is just one of nature’s finest sights. What I find incredible is that the company who run the experience are extremely dedicated at keeping the penguins safe, with no photography of any kind, and all visitors told to sit in silence throughout the experience.
This experience is nature at its rawest, granted I say that knowing the fact that we are intruding just being there, but can forgive that due to the strict rules that apply. I have to say also that the penguins don’t seem to mind, they still waddle passed every night giving visitors the experience of a lifetime.
As you imagine, this experience brings in a huge amount of tourists daily, so make sure you get there in plenty of time. Also after the majority of the tourists have departed, if you are able to stay, stay, as you can see the penguins rustling in their burrows, communicating with their loved ones and babies…
So that’s it – one of the most amazing Wandering Memories of all time…