“ Sightseeing Type: Tours „
Penguin Parade Day Tours
Go West is a small group touring company which operates day tours to Phillip Island from Melbourne. It is a day tour which is marketed towards backpackers and is priced accordingly at $99. All the stops and entry fee's into places was included in this price. The only thing you have to pay extra for is if you wanted to upgrade your penguin experience.
1 Australian Dollar is equal to roughly 0.48 United Kingdom Pounds.
This tour starts at 12.15pm and we got back to our hostel at 12 at night (this will all depend on traffic and where you are staying). Our first stop of the tour was Guerty's winery. Here we got to sample different types of wine with lots of different textures and flavours. If you wanted you could purchase the wines you had tasted, however you didn't have to. You also didn't feel pressurised to buy or even taste the wine if you didn't want to.
Next stop was the Maru Koala & Fauna Park, it wasn't a large place and you got an hour here, which was plenty of time to explore the area. Here you could pet a wombat and have your picture taken if you wanted for free. Some people opted to get their picture taken with a koala, however in Melbourne it is against the law to touch them so you couldn't hold them. Also you had to pay for this privilege. In the park they had emus, kangaroo's (which you could feed up close), Tasmanian devils and of course koala's. It may have been a small park but it felt very personal and you could get close to the animals without the crowds.
The Nobbies was next on the itinerary, this is rocky outcrops where some fairy penguins nest in the wild. Here you could walk along a boardwalk to try and spot these amazing creatures plus you were permitted to take photographs here and you aren't allowed at the actual Penguin Parade. We were lucky enough to see 4 tiny penguins walking along and nested in the shrubs. I was so excited by what I had seen.
Included in the tour was tea and biscuits. This was slightly rough and ready in a picnic style. Everyone grabbed a cup and made their own accordingly. If you wanted you lifted some biscuits. I liked it because it was very relaxed this way.
Now to the highlight of the tour and that was the Penguin Parade itself. We had some spare time to explore the penguin visitor centre where there was a gift shop, snack shop and you learnt lots of different things about penguins which was scattered around the centre, What I found very interesting was that they had man-made burrows for some penguins that you could look into. Fairy penguins moult and luckily enough one was in the burrow so I got to see his feathers coming off up very close. There was an option to pay an extra $11 for a thing called the Penguin Plus experience, we opted to do this. This was an exclusive Penguin Plus boardwalk which offered unrivalled views of the nightly parade. With local rangers on hand to provide fascinating information of the world's smallest penguin that answered any questions you may have had.
**MY EXPERIENCE OF THE PENGUIN PARADE**
We headed down the boardwalk and half of it was accessible by everyone. If you didn't pay extra you went out to sit on a large crowd of seats at the beach to watch the penguins. The boardwalk then split and only authorised people who had paid to do the Penguin Plus experience gained access. This cut the crowds immediately which was fantastic as you got unrestricted views from the boardwalk. We walked down to the bottom of the boardwalk towards the sea to a small seating area where everyone had a good view of the penguins coming in off the sea. It was amazing to see them coming in, in groups of about 10 at any one time. They do this for safety and are constantly helping each other out and looking out for one another. The penguins were so small and cute waddling in over the rocks. It was getting dark when the first came in and you were not allowed to take any photographs as it unsettles the penguins. Even though it was dark there was some lighting on the boardwalk and it was easy to see the penguins clearly.
After I had seen a few groups of penguins come in off the sea I decided to follow a group of them down the boardwalk to their burrow. Once on to the boardwalk I was less than a metre away from them but I had to keep very quiet and wasn't allowed to touch them as it would disturb them. There was a rather fat looking penguin that had just started to moult which had come in and he was so huge he walked on his belly it was fascinating to watch. Every now and then you could hear the penguins call out to each other communicating.
We got a few hours to watch the penguins come in off the sea in their hundreds, which was enough time. I felt that I got to see them very clearly and nothing was rushed. At the end of the night we followed a group straight up to the top watching how they walked for a while, then got tired rested together and then waddled on a bit more.
Once we left the boardwalk we went back to the small bus and got a handheld Playstation to watch videos on. They had several different types of films and even had one on the penguins itself which I watched. The journey back was a couple of hours so you had time to watch anything. This was something I had never seen before and thought it was a great touch to end a perfect tour.
I loved this tour and would recommend it very much to anyone who would be in Melbourne. You get lots of different things packed into the one day. You are never left bored and there is lots to see and do. It was lovely to see the tiny penguins so up close and I think it was definitely worth the extra $11 to go on the Penguin Plus experience as there was less crowds and you got to see the penguins so much closer up. At the end of the boardwalk you could see over to the other side as well, if you wanted you had access to go over to the other side which everyone could go to, we just didn't have time.