ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Phillip Island Penguins on Parade

Updated on June 23, 2016
Cathy Le Feuvre profile image

Cathy is a writer/broadcaster based in Jersey, Channel Islands (Great Britain). Author (so far) of five books & a radio presenter/producer!


Phillip Island

The Penguin Parade is on Summerland Beach, Phillip Island, which is a 90 minute drive from the the city of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia.

On the way, you can visit other fascinating places within the National Parks - the Churchill Island Heritage Farm and a Koala Conservation Centre. And there’s a chance to view the Nobbies, a spectacular headland and rock formation, and the habitat of hundreds of seals.

Twenty minutes and counting! It would soon be sunset.

We waited patiently, nearly two hundred humans sitting in tiered, organised rows on a beach, all being as quiet as possible, but our whispered conversations giving away our heritage – British and numerous other European nationalities, people from the Indian sub continent, China and the Far East and, of course, Australians.

Hundreds of pairs of eyes fixed expectantly on the near horizon as the sun dipped, casting a shadow on the dunes at the far end of the bay. We sat silently as the evening crept across the sand until the beach was lit only by faint starlight, and a couple of dim spotlights, just barely illuminating the shoreline. Waves crashing on the sand the only sound as darkness fell.

Suddenly a ripple of excitement began to grow in the crowd, like a Mexican Wave, only much, much quieter. Then - audible gasps in the quiet evening air.

Here they come!

First in ones and twos surfing expertly in on a wave and then, apprehensive and unsure, some immediately diving back into the ocean before braving the beach a second time.

'OOhs' and 'Aahs' from the crowd, quiet expressions of awe.

It was a little hard to spot them in the half light but then they began to emerge from the waves in larger groups - the ‘rafts’ in which they had fished and swum for days in the Bass Strait off the coast of Australia. At last, after an hour of waiting, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade was underway.

Not that these wild Fairy Penguins, the tiniest of the 17 known varieties of penguin, know that they are part of a world famous phenomenon. They instinctively come back to this remote beach south of Melbourne every year, to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Their daily fishing trips ending each evening on cue, at sunset.

I doubt they were unaware of the humans watching them as they moved from the ocean, onto the beach and up into the dunes where their babies were already beginning to call out to them. Some seemed to glance in our general direction but, perhaps more concerned about natural predators, they fixed on their goal - the undergrowth where they had months before made their burrows and laid their eggs.

In each group, a lead penguin seemed to act as lookout, landing on the shoreline first to check out any dangers before the rest of the raft emerged from the surf and followed gingerly up the beach, as quickly as their tiny legs would carry them. Marching - no, more like waddling - like a group of celebrities dressed up in tuxedos for a night out on the red carpet. Little they might be but the Fairy Penguin looks just as a penguin should. Black and white and ever so smart!

One or two of the birds, maybe unused to the whole experience and perhaps being a little premature in their excitement, leapt from the ocean, landed on the wet sand, stopped, looked around and then dived right back into the waves. Perhaps waiting for a bigger crowd before venturing finally onto the beach. There's safety in numbers!

Children giggled, parents 'sshh'd' them. And remarkably for a large group of humans we all managed to remain extremely quiet, while around us, as the parent penguins made their way up the beach, the sound of chirping from the dunes grew louder and louder.

High pitched cheeping filled the night air as the chicks began calling out for the food which their parents were bringing with them after the day's fishing expedition.

A penguin chick in its burrow
A penguin chick in its burrow | Source

It's an amazing fact but, as the guide informed us before evening fell and the Penguin Parade began, each parent knows exactly where they are going and can recognise the call of their own chicks! So, as we watched, the tiny black and white creatures waddled up the beach into the undergrowth – headed with determination for their ‘home’ burrows in the dunes where their babies awaited them.

As they moved up and off the sand so did the humans. From strategically placed and hardly lit wooden boardwalks, we heard the birds socialising below us - greeting, singing to and preening each other and by some miracle of nature, each penguin managing to find its own offspring out of the thousands in the dunes and undergrowth above the beach. Occasionally we caught a glimpse of a reunion - a tiny parent arriving at its burrow to be greeted with a cacophony of sound from it's even tinier baby. While there's always, of course, a possibility of one or two chicks remaining unclaimed, their hopeful but helpless calls to a mum or dad who will not come again a reminder of the perils of nature and of the sea.

And still we remained inhumanly quiet and reserved as we, finally, walked in near silence away from the beach, along the platforms and boardwalks, leaving the birds to the night. It felt like a sacred space somehow, like a church where the atmosphere is so awesome you dare not break the silence.


  • The taking of photographs or film/video is not allowed during the Penguin Parade
  • A shorter first version of this article by Cathy Le Feuvre was published in the Jersey Now magazine in July 2009


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)