We booked our Penguin Island trip before we even left the UK as a belated birthday present. Anyone who knows me from my childhood will know how penguins became a bit of an obsession, this was something we had to see.
We booked with Rockingham Wild Encounters, they do various trips out to and around Penguin Island – we (obviously) chose the adventure cruise. To get to Rockingham station takes about a half an hour by train and then a 10-minute taxi – you can walk from the station but that takes over an hour. We checked in, had a look round the gift shop and Pengos café then went down to the harbour.
The adventure cruise consists of a 90-minute boat ride around the harbour and surrounding islands, a demonstration and feeding of little or blue penguins and free time to roam around Penguin Island before catching a boat back. We’d fully recommend this package, on the ride around the islands we saw loads of dolphins, which came right up to and under the boat, sea lions, various sea birds and even an osprey.
The dolphins are completely wild and aren’t fed anything by the local conservationists or water-rangers. It was amazing how close to the boat they came especially as they were wild – we saw a mother with her calf which was only a few weeks old. The guide was really informative and we learnt heaps about the dolphins in the area.
On another island the beach was covered in sea lions enjoying the mid-day heat. They’re incredible up close and bigger out in the wild to any you see which are bred in captivity.
Penguin Island itself is remote, quiet and unlike any conservation park we’ve ever been to. There are no cafes, no bins (to reduce any rubbish or encouragement of rice or rats) and no flushing toilets, they do everything to preserve a natural habitat for the penguins.
We watched a feeding of 10 little penguins that were either injured or too weak to survive in the wild. The staff at the park really know their stuff and gave us lots of information on penguins and more specifically the little ones there on the island.
We were then free to roam about, we did the circular hike trail up to the observatory and down to the beach. At the look out point, we spotted more wild dolphins and pelicans. The hunt was then on. The staff explained how usually no one will be able to spot a penguin in the wild, they’re usually in their burrows or out to sea fishing until sunset. We looked everywhere, under the boardwalks, in amongst the hundreds of seagulls…
Dan and his eagle eyes managed to spot this little guy hiding in a burrow on the beach. Dream come true, we’ve seen a wild penguin! They advise that you stay well back, so the picture quality isn’t brilliant, but you can see a flipper.
We had some really lovely chats with some of the volunteers on the island. It was a really awesome experience, a must-see if you’re in WA!
Book your flights to Perth below. When you’ve done that, check out the best free things to do in Perth and start getting excited!