A freelance writer living in Perth, WA. My blog is coming soon. Watch this space!
Published April 1st 2013
Take your happy feet to Penguin Island
Who needs to watch a movie when you can take a short trip to the real deal. Take your 'Happy Feet' over to Penguin Island and frolic with the smallest penguins in the world.
The Little Penguin is the smallest species of Penguin. Everybody likes these cute little critters, so everyone will jump at the chance to get up close and personal and relish the opportunity to feed and pat a penguin.
Penguin Island is a natural wildlife reserve just forty-five minutes south of Perth. It is home to Western Australia's largest colony of penguins, but dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans, king skinks and more than fifty species of sea birds also live there.
Catch the ferry over to Penguin Island, a short five minute trip across Shoalwater Bay, is all it takes. Penguin Island is open daily from early September until early June each year. The ferry leaves from Mersey Point Jetty in Shoalwater, every hour on the hour from 9am and returns hourly from 10.10am.
Once you are on Penguin Island there are lots of things to do.
1. Penguin Discovery Centre. The Penguin Discovery Centre is a viewing area for Little Penguins and a sanctuary to care for injured wild penguins and orphaned chicks. See the Little Penguins in their specially designed housing complex which includes a natural sandy environment and a saltwater pond. Watch the penguins swim through perspex viewing panels The penguins are fed every day at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
2. Glass Bottom Boat Ride. Take a fantastic forty-five minute glass bottom boat cruise and see the reefs, islands, fish, nesting birds, the rookery, sea lions, pelicans and penguins. The waters are usually calm, the underwater viewing is amazing and it's a great way to see the marine park. Tickets are available, on the day, from the gift shop.
3. Dolphin Watch Cruise. Take a ninety minute Dolphin Watch Adventure Cruise and view wild dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and penguins. The dolphins are playful and friendly and will approach the boat, at some times of year you might see mothers and newly born calves.
4. Sea Kayak Tour. Take a full day Sea Kayak Tour and see the sea lions and penguins up close. It's a unique way to explore the islands, guided by qualified instructors, the tours are suitable for beginners and advanced paddlers.
5. Water Sports. Dolphin Island has some of the best coastal areas with secluded beaches, white sand and crystal clear water. Relax on the beach, enjoy a swim or go snorkelling. For the more adventurous, you can take some Stand Up Paddle Lessons or Kite Boarding Lessons.
6. Bird Watching. Penguin Island is home to more than fifty species of sea birds. Look out for nesting areas, rookeries and breeding colonies.
7. Eat. Dolphin Island is a Nature Reserve, so there are no shops or cafes on the islands. There is a lovely picnic ground there and you are most welcome to bring your own food and drink. Relax under the shady trees, overlooking the sweeping views of the marine park as you eat your lunch.
The Penguin Island café and gift shop are located on the mainland, by the jetty, so you can pop in before or after your visit to Penguin Island.
Pengos Café. Take a break at Pengos Café, open daily from 8am till 4.30pm, for breakfast and lunch. Pengos Café serve a range of freshly made burgers, sandwiches and delicious fish and chips. Grab a snack or a quick bite to eat and relax in the alfresco area or on the grass while the kids play in the children's playground.
Gift Shop. Before you finish your Penguin island day, drop into the gift shop for a souvenir of your visit. Open between 8.30am and 4.30pm each day, you can buy a range of marine-themed home wares, gifts, souvenirs, clothes, children's toys, jewellery and much more.
Rockingham Wild Encounters is the only licenced cruise company able to visit and operate within the Shoalwater Marine Zone. Tickets for the ferry to Penguin Island and for all cruises and tours are available from the Rockingham Wild Encounters office, gift shop, on-line or by phoning 95911333. Ticket prices vary, depending on what you would like to take part in, but start at $12.00.