PHILLIP ISLAND: Penguin Parade

On Friday we had booked to go on the 1 day Phillip Island day tour through STA Travel. We had booked the experience as part of a combo package; 1 day Philip Island, 1 day Grampians and the Eureka Tower for $235.

In terms of booking, STA didn’t provide details of the tour until I had to ask before departing with my money. They were quite ready to take payment before I knew exactly what was included.

On the day we were picked up on time and meet our tour guide aka also bus driver who seemed friendly enough. After a few more pick ups the bus was full and we were on our way. Not sure what you would call our first stop but it was along the road in a car park where we stopped to have lunch. The option was chicken roll, ham roll or salad roll…

After lunch, we were back on the bus and heading to Maru Wildlife Park. We had 40 minutes to experience the Koalas and Kangaroos up close, however with it being Chinese New Year, it was VERY busy and it was sometimes difficult to see what you wanted too. The Kangaroos were very cute and there was the option to buy kangaroo food for $2 which of course everyone did, so you can imagine how stuffed the Kangaroos were! It was a sad to see people leaving the empty plastic containers scattered on the floor in the kangaroo park when they had been asked not too.

From the wildlife park we made our way to Cape Woolamai Beach. Here we had 20 minutes which wasn’t at all long enough. It was such a beautiful beach, the sand was gorgeous and the waves were huge! I wasn’t sure why we didn’t hold off and have lunch here!

We then continued onto Panny’s Chocolate Factory, again we had 20 minutes to have a look around. There wasn’t much to see as we didn’t have time to do the chocolate tour, so it was just a shop which sold chocolate for ridiculous prices. Farley and I were expecting something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but it wasn’t at all like this.

Nobbies was our next point of call but before we got there we drove slowly past the Grand Prix Circuit and was provided a small bit of commentary. Let’s just say at this point a large percentage of the bus were enjoying a nap.

Nobbies is a rocky coast on the far western tip of Phillip Island, home to penguins and fur seals. Along the boardwalk we saw a couple of penguins but no seals. Our ticket price included access to the exhibition in the visitor centre which was a little bonus provided by STA. We had about 1 hour here which was plenty of time before heading to the Penguin Parade.

Summerlands Beach was the final stop for the highlight of the day. Before going down to the beach for the sunset parade, we had dinner in the visitor centre. The food was very yummy but finding a place to sit was difficult. The Penguin Parade had sold out for the day of our visit and they were expecting 4,000 visitors!

When we found that out we ate quickly and headed down to the grandstands early to get a good view. We found a spot near the front, on the sand and waited for the big moment…

I’m a little disappointed to say that after being told there was a colony of 40,000 penguins, the number that we saw come out from the water, from where we were sat was around 12, not exactly a “parade”. It was more entertaining watching the Rangers continually shout at people to “sit down!” or “phones away!”

On the walk back up to the visitor centre, along the boardwalk, you could see the penguins heading back to their burrows, but again with it being so busy it was difficult to get a good view without being pushed.

If I visited the parade again or if any of you are thinking about doing the tour then pay the extra for the upgraded penguin view! Trust me! The platform is not as busy and is positioned in a spot along the beach where most of the penguins come out of the water so you see a lot more!!

In all, the trip wasn’t the most amazing experience but I’m glad I did it. The places we stopped at were interesting but we could have certainly done with more time. It felt like we spent the majority of the trip on the bus and our tour guide/driver wasn’t the most enthusiastic or engaging person which would have helped make the day lot more fun.

Overall rating: 6/10