Penguin Island, Perth – largest Little Penguin colony in WA

Penguin Island is located just off of Perth, in Western Australia.

The island is small, just 12.5 hectares, and is inhabited by the largest population of wild Little Penguins in Western Australia.

Natural environment

The limestone island has sea caves, cliffs, headlands, coves, beaches, and natural bridges. The island is surrounded by the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

The island is known for its population of wild little penguins (also known as fairy penguins).  The penguins spend most of the year at sea, coming to the island for a short period to nest and malt.

The island is home to many bird species, including: Albatross, Arctic Skua, silver gulls, Little Eagles, Sea Eagles, darters, Ospreys, terns, cormorants, bar tailed godwit, ruddy turnstones, noddies, fairy terns,  and oystercatchers.  The island is also the breeding and nesting site for a colony of 500 Australian Pelicans.

Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)

The island is very small – one can walk around the island in less than half an hour.  Most visit the island for a half-day or full-day.

Visits to the island are strictly monitored. Visitors can only be on the island during specific daylight hours, between mid-September and early June. Visitors are advised to bring their own food and drinks because there are no stores on the island to purchase goods (the island does have a drinking water fountain). Alternatively, visitors can return to the mainland and stop at the café near the jetty for food when they become hungry.

The island offers a variety of activities:

  • Walking and bird-watching: the island has a 1.5km loop boardwalk so that people can walk around without damaging the environment. The boardwalk has several viewpoints, and the walk takes about 45 minutes. The need to protect animal life and minimize dune erosion has resulted in several fenced off areas on the island.
  • Picnicking: the island has a picnic area with seating, for visitors to take a break for a snack or meal.
  • Discovery Centre: Home to 10 orphaned penguins who would not have survived in the wild, this centre manages a breeding program to release the next generation of penguins into the wild.  People enjoy watching the thrice-daily penguin feedings.
  • Swimming: a small sheltered beach with shallow borders the Discovery Centre, an ideal place to swim with children.
  • Diving: A reef behind the island provides great snorkeling and diving opportunities, with a good wall dive. The snorkeling between Penguin and Seal Islands is also good.
  • Island hopping: many visitors pair a visit to Penguin Island with a stop next to neighbouring Seal Island, to view the population of seal lions, and potentially spot a quokka. Boats anchor offshore (visits on the island are strictly prohibited).
  • Dolphin-watching: Boat tours are available to look for the local dolphin pods.

Accommodation

The island does not have any facilities or accommodations.  A drinking water fountain and basic waterless composting toilets are available on the island. The island also has several benches and picnic tables.

Camping

Camping is prohibited on Penguin Island.

Getting There

Penguin Island is just 700 metres from Rockingham, which is a 45-minute drive south of Perth.

Visitors can reach the island in various ways, due to its proximity to the mainland (Penguin Island is just 700 metres from Rockingham):

  • Ferry: A 10-minute connects the island to the mainland, departing from the Rockhingham jetty. The ferry runs daily from 9am to 4pm.
  • Private boat: Drive a private boat over to the island.
  • Swimming: Intrepid travelers can swim to the island.
  • Kayaking: Paddle from Rockingham to the island.
  • Walking: During low tides, it may be possible to walk to the island along the sand bar. However, rapidly rising tides can make this dangerous, so care should be taken.

Related posts:

  1. Perth Zoo, Perth, Western Australia
  2. Aquarium of Western Australia, Perth

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