Melbourne – Day 2 – Part 4 (Philip Island Day Tour – Part 3)
We’re finally at the point of this day trip! We’re finally going to see the Penguin Parade. I was super excited for this and tried to do a little bit of research before arriving. I found a few rather old home videos, a documentary about the employees counting penguins every night, and a few official pictures. None of that beats actually watching these little penguins parade home after a night of fishing. And as we were heading over there, we were able to see the viewing area we were going to sit at to watch the penguins.
I guess I need to step back a little bit. When we arrived, we each received our ticket and then made our way inside first for dinner. Nothing special (and not provided by our tour).
And when we finished our dinner, we walked around inside where there is a gift shop, bathrooms, a photo area (you’re taking a picture in front of a green screen), and a little exhibit about these penguins.
I knew from the very beginning that it was going to be cold, thanks to the little homework I did and Auntie. But the gift shop is also a perfect spot for anyone who did not arrive prepared with jackets, sweaters, scarves, and hats. I personally enjoyed all of the postcards, souvenirs, and all of the stuffed animals! I kind of wish I got one, but I honestly don’t have any space at home for it.
I actually spent a LOT of time at the exhibit. The penguins at the Penguin Parade are much smaller then the average penguins we often see at the zoo or aquarium. And since they’re the smallest type of penguins they’re called “Little Penguins”. You can’t take pictures outside because the flash will scare the Little Penguins. This is a natural occurrence and shouldn’t be disturbed.
We looked inside these burrow boxes to see the inside of the Little Penguin homes. These guys are so adorable and I was so excited to be able to snap a few shots of these guys. There are at least 4 or 5 boxes for us to look into and most of them had a Little Penguin in view.
I had a little unpleasant experience though. As tour groups were making filling up the Penguin Parade building a tour guide was explaining to his tour group things about the penguins (at first I just wondered where my guide was, and then was glad that I can do my own thing with out following a guy holding up a flag). I was looking into a hole not really knowing what I was looking for when I felt a bunch of people around me. At first I though the place was getting crowded. Then I start hearing a gentleman speaking rather loudly in Chinese and as I finally gave up on trying to see what was inside the box and started walking to the next box, I hear this gentleman speak in a lower and annoyed tone “damn bitch was in our way”. I was seriously upset but did not want to cause a scene or even bother with such rude people.
And as the sun was starting to set, we headed outside to the viewing platform to wait for the Little Penguin to start swimming ashore. This is where everyone needed to bundle up.
William (Our very UN-enthusiastic tour guide) used the scare tactic on our tour group and told us that if we are caught taking pictures outside our phones/camera will be taken away and NOT returned. I saw quite a few people taking pictures and were only being asked to put away their camera multiple times.
I wonder how strict they really are with that. I was good and did not take any pictures outside. And honestly, I remembered how different it could be to experience something without hiding behind a camera. Though I do enjoy re-living the moment through my pictures as well.
We watched a few groups of little dots of Little Penguin swim ashore first. Well, it was more like penguins wash up along the waves and then waddle onto the beach. From their they each continued on to find their own home. Most of their houses are actually built by the Penguin Foundation for them. You can get a better view at the VIP platform for an additional AU$20, but that area is closed until May 2016 for renovations. (I wonder if it’s worth it, I’ve read some bloggers who paid the extra and didn’t think much of it)
The main attraction is really on the boardwalk. That is where we saw some Little Penguin come out of their home waiting for their other half to come home. The struggle is real (#thestruggleisreal) was literally what I was thinking as I watched some these Little Penguins who look quite tired (from a day out at sea fishing) climb the hills along the beach to find their home again. I think I’m pretty lucky to be able to park my car as close as possible and drive home after a day of work.
Remember! Stay quiet and just observe this magical little homecoming. It’s not worth it trying to make noises and talk loudly disturbing these penguins. This is their daily life. I wouldn’t want anyone making cat calls as I am walking home.
The organizers at Penguin Parade are actually really good about providing official pictures on their website and through an app (which I did not bother to get). And if you really want pictures with the Little Penguin, you can pay to take your picture in front of a green screen and get Photoshopped into a picture with the Little Penguin.
And then we hopped back onto our Evergreen Tour Bus, did a little bit of tourist switch-a-roo. We picked up people from multiple spots in Melbourne earlier in the day, but our tour guide arranged for another tour bus to take those who were picked up at the additional stops and for others from the other bus that needed to be dropped off where we were picked up to go home with us. This made for our trip home a little shorter. And allowed William to go home early, which he had actually warned the group earlier that it was very important for us to be timely because he (and some guests) may need to catch the last buses or trains home.