You haven’t seen the world until you have watched two tiny penguins run and fall belly first over the same patch of sea grass within 30 seconds of each other.
Allison and I, thanks to a fabulous Australian family friend of Allison, were able to visit Phillip Island and enjoy an event called the march of the penguins.
Philip Island is located just outside of the city of Melbourne and is home to thousands of ferry penguins. These penguins leave their burrows for days at a time to feed and bring back food for their families. The march of the penguins consists of watching packs of these little animals waddle up onto shore, make sure it’s safe, and then waddle as fast as they can towards their burrows. With their nerves on high, necks stretched, arms flailing in takeoff position, and knees fused together, you haven’t lived until you have witnessed this phenomenon.
On Sunday afternoon Allison and I boarded a small bus decorated with photos of tiny penguins and the words “The Little Penguin Company” scrawled brightly across the side. After a short and rainy drive, we arrived at the western tip of the island where we were able to explore the Nobbies at Point Grant. The Nobbies are made up of boardwalks along the coast that overlook the ocean and rocks below, and some of these boardwalks are also homes for the ferry penguins.
I hopped off the bus at the Nobbies and was immediately blown backward by the winds that followed the rain of that day. For protection, I wrapped my jacket around my camera and I and trudged towards the boardwalk. The sun began to set as we walked along the coast and the waves, with the help of the wind, crashed and swirled white froth along the hillside. The sun set behind a small but tall island and illuminated its green shrubs on all sides. The island looked as if it was wearing a halo and the waters below it glistened and danced around its edges trying to touch the aura of sunlight.
As we got back on the bus, the golden Nobbies disappeared behind us along with the sun, and we headed towards the Phillip Island Nature Park to watch the penguin parade. Allison and I were lucky enough to go on a guided ranger tour which allowed us to be up close and personal with the penguins as well as receive headsets through which our guide to explained the process of the penguins return to home in depth.
It did not take long for the Penguins to begin coming up onto the beach. We sat and watched as masses of twenty to forty Penguins sat in the water, waited for someone brave to venture out, and then all tumble and run as fast as their penguin feet could take them towards the sea grass. There were multiple times where one penguin would be left behind; it would then either run as fast as it could towards the pack or completely turn tail and flop back into the water. This part of their day is by far the most dangerous and stressful for the Penguins as they are completely exposed; so when they reach the safety of the high grass and rocks of the beach they take a well-earned breather. But the trip is not over yet, they then continue along the “penguin highway” which is a long strip of dirt until they find their burrow. We walked along this path, without disturbing the penguins, and watched them waddle and stumble towards their homes. Allison and I stood by a patch of sea grass and watched small penguin run so fast through it that he tripped and fell on his stomach letting out a noise of surprise as if the grass had miraculously appeared in front of him. As he got up and waddle off, we watched as one of his pals followed his direct path and flopped over becoming just as frustrated with the grass as the first one.
Seeing the Penguin Parade and walking the boardwalks of The Nobbies is a trip you need to take if you are visiting Melbourne. Getting there takes an hour and a half, and you stay till about 10 pm, but it is well worth the time!