The Penguin Parade: a Unique Wildlife Experience

Watching the smallest penguins in the world waddling across the beach at sunset… Is there anything more magical than this? Out of my 5 weeks in Australia, along with skydiving, this was my most anticipated event.

penguin-2-700x476Photograph from:

Phillip Island is home to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia.  Standing at 33cm, the Little Penguins are the smallest species of penguin in the world. They spend 80% of their time in the water and return to their colonies on Phillip Island after a hard day of fishing. Little Penguins return to land at sunset each day and it is then that visitors to Phillips Island Nature Park’s Penguin Parade are able to spot them popping out the water.

Whilst staying in Melbourne, we booked a day trip to experience the penguin parade. It cost around £90 and included other stops before the main event.

Our first stop was Yarra Bend Park to see some flying foxes. My friend was in Australia at the time researching these animals so I was very excited to see them in the wild. We saw so many of them, they were hanging from the trees and gliding above our heads. Flying foxes are key animals for pollinating Australia’s trees.

We had lunch at a wildlife centre which we could wander around. We saw kangaroos, koalas, emus, Tasmanian devils and lamas.



Our next stop was one of the many chocolate shops in Australia: Pannys. I couldn’t resist a shot of chocolate!

We visited a sea lion centre but unfortunately could not see any sea lions as they were too far at sea. However, there was a boardwalk with beautiful views.


The next and final stop was the PENGUIN PARADE! We quietly sat on a beach where we eagerly waited for the penguins to tumble out from the waves; the moment finally arrived at 5:45pm. We witnessed groups of them waddle from the sea and across the beach. I tried to soak in the special atmosphere as much as possible. I felt extremely lucky to be witnessing such a unique and natural wildlife event. I loved how some of them seemed to wait for their ‘friends’ to exit the water so they could walk together. The little penguins tended to travel in groups of 15-20. Overall 1,421 penguins walked on the beach that night.

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Understandably we were not permitted to photograph this event; penguins have sensitive eyes and the flash from a camera can both frighten and disorientate them. I was shocked to see that a few groups of people did not follow this rule and were snapping away at the penguins. I even saw a flash go off. I understand that it’s great to take photos, but is it really worth potentially harming these innocent creatures? This is why I bought postcards to remember my experience by instead.

little-penguinsA postcard 

Once we were finished viewing them on the beach we walked over the boardwalks where we saw the penguins below us. Their unique calls filled the air.

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What an incredible experience. At the time I stated that the penguin parade was the best thing I have ever seen, and 4 years later I still stand by that.


  • Wear warm clothes; it gets chilly at night.
  • Arrive at the penguin parade visitor centre at least one hour before the event.
  • Please don’t take photos!

Practical information: the penguin parade takes place 365 days a year, just after sunset.




12 thoughts on “The Penguin Parade: a Unique Wildlife Experience

  1. I love penguins! What a cool experience this must have been. Hopefully I’ll get to Australia one day, and when I do, I’ll definitely keep this in mind!


  2. This is the first time I heard of this event! I would really LOVE this experience! Must be really fascinating to see it in person! It would also be one of the most anticipated events for me! I love animals (and even wanted to be a zoologist). These penguins are also known as, “fairy penguins.” They’re quite adorable, aren’t they?

    Thanks to you, this is on my list now 🙂 I had a similar experience in Costa Rica. A Night Walk event to see sea turtles nesting! It was surreal! If you love animals and nature, I certainly recommend it if you haven’t tried it 🙂


    1. It was incredible to see it in person. It was hard to believe it was real at the time! Oh wow a zoologist sounds like a very rewarding career. If I didn’t go into teaching I would love to have gone into a career revolving around animal conservation.
      I’m so happy my post inspired you to add this experience to your list. Thanks for the advice about Costa Rica. Seeing turtles nesting is something I’ve always wanted to see and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Sri Lanka this year. Do you have a post about it? I’ll have a look now 🙂


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