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Booked through Viator: Phillip Island Penguin Parade Evening Tour
One of my favorite days in Australia, we observed the Little Fairy Penguins return from fish hunting all day and returning to their burrows to feed their families. These little penguins are the cutest penguins I had EVER seen! They are smaller than most penguins, standing just about a foot tall with beautiful slate-blue coloring. The Australians call them Fairy Penguins, but New Zealand calls them Little Penguins, therefore I am calling them Little Fairy Penguins!
BOOKING THE TOUR
We booked our Penguin Parade tour through Viator: Phillip Island Little Penguin Parade Evening Tour to see the fairy penguins (it was about $100 per person)! Although we booked it the night before, we should have booked further in advance!
A bus picked us up near Finders Street Station in Melbourne (just down the street from our hotel) and the drive was just about 2 hours through the countryside outback! Our driver/guide was informative and kept us entertained for the duration of the ride, I just couldn't wait to see these little penguins!
FIRST STOP: PHILLIP ISLAND
We stopped at the Phillip Island visitor Center where they had a cafeteria and a gift shop. We grabbed a bite and walked around the grounds where there was a large rock in the water that looked like a little island that was full of barking sea lion.
We boarded the bus again and were on our way to the Penguin Parade. As we were driving our guide spotted wildlife and we saw our first wallaby in the wild!
PENGUIN PARADE ARRIVAL
We arrived in the parking lot and saw these cute signs warning to look under your car. Apparently, some of the penguins lose their way, ending up in the parking lot, hiding under cars. When you go, be careful, and triple check under your car before you leave!
We walked into their visitors center where they had another cafeteria and a gift shop. The tour came with a coupon for a free drink so we redeemed our coupon - the cafeteria had sodas and light snacks. I ran into the gift shop and had to get a magnet for our collection on our fridge!
SEATING FOR THE PENGUIN PARADE
Finally, it was time to get our spot for the parade! There were little pathways built to lead to the bleachers and among the path were some of the burrows of the penguins as well as more wild Wallaby!
The viewing section was set up almost like a football stadium where bleachers were set up facing the ocean, with paths for the penguins to come between.
We opted for their upgrade option, the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform. Here, we had a closer observation point, accompanied by a wildlife ranger who helped provide information as the penguins were approaching. The area is limited to 150 people and the penguins come so close.
We got a spot early on to make sure we were a close a possible.
THE PENGUIN PARADE
After we waited a little while, we started to hear them before we could even see them! As they started to emerge out of the water, you could hear them to call to their families and the baby penguins came out of their burrows to meet their parent (and EAT).
Interestingly enough, the penguins would start to run for the shore in groups. Some would head to shore and make their way home, while others played it safe and would head back into the water in fear a larger bird such as a hawk, would swoop down and grab them.
What you're hearing is the sound of thousands of fairy penguins coming in from hunting all day, returning to their nests nearby.
We were told not to take pictures, but I had to document the moment. Too many people don't understand how to turn off their flash, therefore ruining the experience for everyone. There were some other tourists in front of us that kept taking pictures and they kept getting yelled at. They ask not to take pictures because the flash can hurt the penguins eyes, leaving them almost blind, unable to find their burrow.
Before we knew it, hundreds of penguins started to flood in, waddling around!
As we started to walk back along the path the penguins were directly below on the trail next to us. Here, we saw them up closely admiring their cuteness!
It was hard to leave, but finally got on the bus to head back (we did check to make sure there weren't any little penguins under the bus first). We loved these penguins and were so glad we experienced their nightly parade!
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