While selecting activities for my trip to Australia, I came across many tours for penguin watching on the beach online. As an animal lover, I decided that this was something I must definitely experience! However, most of these tour packages were priced at over $100 to go on a two hour trip to Phillip Island, which is a bit expensive for people who are backpacking. With a little more research, my friend and I figured out that you can see them pretty much every night at the beach in St. Kilda, which is just 20 minutes away via tram from central Melbourne.
After knocking back a couple drinks at the bars in CBD, we hopped on the tram from Southern Cross Station and made our way to the pier at St. Kilda Beach around 7pm a little after the sun set (we confirmed this time via the weather app). At first we weren’t sure if they were going to come out, as spring had just started in Australia and it was a bit chilly. But we saw a large group of people gathered at the pier and sure enough, a group of penguins started to emerge from the rocks!
Sometimes they are hard to see in the dark, so usually a fluorescent light is shone over them so people can view them from the wooden docks. Park rangers are present to ensure the penguins’ safety, but sometimes they wander close to people. One even climbed up to say hello to us (I apologize for the low video quality, as no flash photography was allowed):
I really enjoyed this experience a lot because it wasn’t like going to a zoo–it was a completely natural phenomenon! Compared to other penguins I’ve seen in other countries, these ones looked a lot tinier. In addition to Melborune, there are several other places in Australia where you can see penguins frolic on the beach.
St. Kilda also has botanical gardens that I recommend going to during the day! My friend and I were able to see some sakura blossoms here and along the Yarra River. Though I thought the weather here was quite cold compared to Tokyo, I am really happy I was able to see the beautiful sakura once again this year!
No matter what time of year you come to Australia, I think you can always find something beautiful to enjoy!