Melbourne: See the Penguins on St Kilda Beach
Get There: Take the 16 tram from Melbourne City, stop at St Kilda Beach and walk along the pier and breakwater.
Phillip island’s Penguin Parade is just that: a parade of tourist shuttles, hordes of people trampling on boardwalks, being told to hush and put cameras away as fragile little penguins try to sneak in under flood lights before disappearing as quickly as possible into the sand and brush. This intimate experience, shared with approximately 100 other people will set you back around $25.
St Kilda beach doesn’t quite evoke the same tranquil, nature reserve vibe as Phillip Island’s Nature Park. Its promenade is more renowned for prostitutes than penguins, and its famous Luna Park’s garish entrance is far removed from anything “natural.” But visit the pier in the early hours of the morning and you’re just as likely to encounter nesting penguins as you are drunken fishermen.
To the credit of Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade, all generated revenue in their park is used to fund research and conservation efforts across the island. The protection for the penguins along St Kilda beach is all volunteer efforts from Earthcare, so it’s up to you not to be a dick. There are no barriers or nest markers, so don’t clamber over the rocks, handle the penguins, touch their nests etc. Little penguin eyes are also extremely sensitive to white light and camera flashes, so keep your iPhone torch off. If you do find yourself with some spare cash, there’s a donation pole located on the left-hand side of the pier opposite the far end of the kiosk.
Oh – and if you see a rat, don’t be scared. They’re of the native water variety – not the feral, plague-hosting type.