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Penguin Pursuits

Fairy Penguins and the penguin parade are generally connected with Victoria's Phillip Island. What most people don't know is that penguins have formed a colony on a breakwater built for the 1956 Olympic games, down at the end of St Kilda Pier.

The colony is protected from outsiders by a tall wire fence, but visitors can see the penguins come out at night by taking an authorised boat.

The City Penguins boat, which we took down the Yarra River

The vessel we took leaves Southbank in inner city Melbourne at 5:30 each night and travels down the Yarra under the low, low bridges and out across the bay to St Kilda. On the way a light snack is provided (we had chicken -- drinks cost extra).

The bridges are so low that passengers have to stay seated. We were allowed to photograph from the prow of the ship, and had to hunch down on our hands and knees when the captain blew the alarm at each bridge.

At the colony, we saw penguins, heard penguins, and were permitted to use flash photography, something you're not permitted to do at Phillip Island.

There is commentary on the way down, and a spotlighter at the colony to point out the penguins. One the way back, the hosts bundled up ill-prepared passengers and let the kids steer (we made it back anyway).

We travelled down to St Kilda as the sun set, and had a rare view of the docklands and Westgate Bridge .

The atmosphere was congenial, passengers chatted amongst themselves because it's a small boat and a dark, friendly night out on the water. The trip travel time varies, depending on tides and so on, so don't get all compulsive about what time you get back. Just sit and enjoy the trip.
We took a couple of kids and they enjoyed themselves, although the return trip is a good sleep-inducer.

Tips for would-be photographers: Because you photograph the penguins from the boat you will be several metres away from them. You really need a zoom lens to take advantage of this opportunity.
Pauline Benzies Laing has provided us with photographs which she took when she helped band penguins for research and their protection. Note: they may look cute, but she has a SCAR from the less-than-playful nip one took at her hand during the process. Click here for Pauline's photos.

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Pictorial Guide to Melbourne and Victoria
Festivale Online Magazine
Celebrate Everything!
ISSN 1328-8008
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1999 All rights reserved
Filed: 7-Dec-1997 : Last updated: 11-Sep-1999 : Last tested:
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

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