Perth is famous for its quokkas on quokka island, a.k.a. Rottnest Island, but did you know that we also have penguins? In fact, we have the tiniest penguin species in the world, aptly known as Little Penguins, and they can be found on *drumroll please* Penguin Island.
Penguin Island is located just off the coast of Rockingham, a mere 45-minute drive south of Perth city centre (just don’t travel in peak hour traffic), and then a mere 5-minute ferry ride. By public transport, it’s just under an hour and a half by train and bus from the city centre.
The island is tiny and the entire length of it walkable, but there is much to do and see there.
It is not just home to penguins but is also a key bird nesting ground. You will see a lot of birds there.
Like, a lot of birds there.
Baby birds moulting.
Birds posing like K-pop boybands.
Birds giving everything the stink eye.
But we’re really here for these little guys.
Penguins are found on the island, but it’s hard to spot them in the wild.
But don’t worry about missing out if you don’t see them outside. Several penguins that have been injured or are not suited for life the wild live in the island’s discovery centre. Feedings occur three times a day where visitors can view the cute little penguins as they come get their noms.
This little guy’s name is Kevin. No seriously, he’s actually named Kevin, and he’s trained the island rangers to hand-feed him so he doesn’t have to swim for his food.
These penguins are used to having an audience. Some even showboat for the watching humans.
And some walk around their enclosure, watching humans back.
Feeding times are 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm daily, and entry to the discovery centre for feedings must be purchased alongside ferry tickets.
Outside of the discovery centre, there is plenty to see and do on this tiny island.
You can walk the pathways leading around the island, including this one leading to the highest point of the island where you get this magnificent view. Just beware of the winds. Perth is a windy city and is especially more so along the coast, so don’t get blow off your path.
The pathways lead to the beach, where you can hike the entire length of the island via its coastline (with some rock climbing required).
Climb on some rocks if you’re the nimble sort. (But seriously, if you’re not used to rock climbing, don’t. Safety first.)
Pack a picnic and just chill out for the day. Have a swim, snorkel or a sunbath. Or grab your rods and go fish.
Be aware that not all parts of the island are walkable, especially off the paths as these are all nesting grounds.
You can spot nests along the pathways. Needless to say, look but don’t touch.
Be warned. As this is a natural habitat for birds, you will inevitably run into the occasional dead animal. This is all perfectly normal, and part of the great circle of life.
Don’t freak out when you go to their one public toilet on the island, look down the toilet bowl, and see it lead to a large hole in the ground. Their toilet is a gigantic bokashi bin! All waste is processed by microorganisms below ground where the bulk of the smell is eliminated and human waste is turned into compost to be reused on the island.
Also, another tip for the squeamish. When you’re riding the ferry to and from the island, don’t look up (or at the next photo) if you can’t stand swarms of flies. Flies are a normal sight in the warmer months, and they are mostly harmless albeit annoying. But yes, don’t look up, or else you get this:
It’s like something out of a horror movie.
There are no shops on the island so pack a picnic if you intend to stay for the day. Otherwise, grab something from Pengo’s Cafe next to the Ticket and Gift Shop. As a bonus, the food is pretty decent.
The island is closed during the winter, but you can still take a glass-bottomed wildlife cruise to see the surrounding wildlife, including some intimidating sea lions.
Penguin Island is quite wonderful and very beautiful. To keep it that way, please be respectful of the place and its inhabitants. No flash photography, as they can severely damage birds’ eyes. Pick up your rubbish, and bring it with you when you go. Take memories and photos, but leave no trace so the island can be enjoyed by humans and wildlife for years to come.
For more information, including ticket prices, opening times and how to get there by car or public transport, check out their website here: https://www.penguinisland.com.au
View more photos from Penguin Island in my gallery here.