On the way to Phillip Island we went past the giant worm attraction (didn't stop), across the short bride and onto the Phillip Island tourist center. There we got a list of campsites and purchased tickets for the Penguin Parade. We paid $10 more and got the penguin plus package which allowed you to sit in a smaller seating area right next to the penguin walk and get a free drink
. I felt very special. Then went on to find a campsite, set up camp and get some lunch down a the beach in Cowes. After lunch went out to this place call "The Nobbies" which was a fancy new building on some cliffs with walks around the cliffs and the main attraction is the seals on a rock about 1.5km away. You can't really see them except thru a telescope, which they gladly charge you to use. The new building did have some interactive features and displays and a fancy new cafe with a huge jumbo tron (so basically you can watch the seals and commercials from inside without ever having to go outside!). After walking everywhere possible for an hour went inside to wait out the time before moving on to the penguins. Got a couple drinks and a pastry fro some crazy price like $100 at the fancy new cafe and watched the seals on the TV. At least we walked all the boardwalks first! It was kind of sad to think you could come out to this place and just sit, eat and watch the nature outside on a TV. Then I browsed the gift shop before we finally headed off to the grand Penguin Parade! With the penguin plus package we got our free drink (hot coco) after entering the centered and wandered around some of the displays and of course the gift shop waiting for them to open the doors and allow you out back to get your seat to watch the penguins. Finally the doors opened and all the people in the general admission seats run out to get a good spot. Being a Penguin Plus member and therefore not sitting with 1000 other people I felt in no hurry to rush outside
. Sauntered outside taking in the grounds and looking at the little penguin houses- they were so cute! A little further down the board walks there was a little penguin awake and outside! IT was all fluffy with it's baby feathers! I think it's Nov-March when the chicks hatch and get fed by their parents so all the chicks were still at home waiting for their parent penguins to arrive back from the sea that night. Later when the adults started to arrive back the chicks would come out waiting to get their food. When they are adults the adults have the white belly and dark blue on their backs but the chicks were a fluffy light grey color.
Basically Penguins on Parade is people watching the penguins come back out of the sea every night to go back to their home. Just after the sunsets a group will emerge and climb over the beach then stop and preen themselves before starting their journey back to their nest. About 800 penguins come back each night an they do it in waves. You get all excited when the first group comes then they start to move off when another group emerges. It was very cool to see them sup close and in their natural habitat. It was definitely worth the extra $10 to get a smaller viewing area and we got a good seat so were pretty close. You are also able to get up and walk along side the penguins on the board walk- that was definitely a highlight. I stayed out on the boardwalk walking back and forth with the penguins until the Rangers did a final sweep and moved everyone up closers. A lot of the penguins were still making their way back to their homes. You could hear all the baby chicks out sqwaking for their food too. IT was awesome. The night didn't end until about 11pm when we were about the last people to leave the area. It was most definitely a highlight of Australia.
We didn't go to Kangaroo Island because we heard (and further read) about the penguins on parade at Phillip Island. It was only about a 2 hour drive south of Melbourne but we took our time stopping at a classy McCafe for breakfast and then an auto store to buy some tar remover to get black bumper marks off Squizzy and then a Home Depot like store to buy a hammer to try and get the dent out of the back wheel well. The wax worked on the bumper but the hammer didn't help at all. Oh well.