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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Penguin Island, Western Australia

At just over 12 hectares Penguin Island is a paradise just a short 5 minute ferry ride from the mainland, 45 minute drive south of Perth. The island is located in the 6,450 hectare Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

The highlight of my day trip was the penguin feeding. 10 rescued little penguins call the Discovery Centre home as they cannot be returned to the wild. The saltwater pond has been designed and built to reflect the penguins natural sandy, coastal scrub environment. The talk and feeding session allows you to watch the penguins interact with each other. Some of them need to be hand fed as they do not know how to feed themselves. Others dive and retrieve fish that is thrown into their saltwater pond. They especially seemed to like swimming into the flowing water. They waddled over rocks and barked to each other. It was absolute cuteness.

There is a colony of over 500 pelicans on the island, and sea lions also call the island home. Over 1000 penguins nest on the island each year, and wooden walkways enable visitors to navigate the island, while still protecting the fragile ecology. Nesting boxes dot the island and if you are fortunate, you may see or hear some of the native inhabitants.

Rabbits and rats have previously invaded the island but have been eradicated. Dogs are not allowed to visit the island.

The 1.5km wooden walkway has several lookout points and steps down to the sand beaches.

The sheltered bay near the pier also has a shaded and grassed picnic area that is perfect for picnics and swimming. You will need to bring all your own food and drinks as there is no shops on the island. You also need to take all rubbish off the island with you. Composting toilets are on the island.

Visitors can also access the island by boat, kayak or ski. Walking across the sandbar from the mainland is not recommended as people have drowned here walking across.

The beaches surrounding the island are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, enjoying the ocean views and exploring the limestone caves.

From 1914 - 1926 there was even a squatter on the island, Paul Seaforth McKenzie who dug into the limestone to create caves for use as visitor accommodation and a store. He even held parties and balls here. Holiday shacks were built on the island until the mid 1950s, when they were dismantled.

The island is absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth spending time here when visiting Perth. The walkways are easily accessible for people with mobility issues. Having conserved nature so close to a large population is the work of very dedicated governments and a blessing.

Happy Travels!

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