A hidden gem in the heart of Melbourne, St Kilda’s Pier is lovely for an evening or night-time stroll. The pier is, in my opinion, one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets.
Because it is the home of a Little Penguin colony as well as the Rakali (water rats). To boot, entry is free of charge!
About 1,400 penguins live on the breakwater at any given time. The breakwater is located on the pier, if you continue to the left of the kiosk. The best time to view the penguins is 30 minutes after sunset, however, in saying this, we strolled down the pier around 10pm and we still saw plenty of penguins and one Rakali (who scared the heck out of us since we didn’t realise that there were water rats living in the rocks here).
When planning your visit, consider that you will see the greatest number of penguins between October and April, and if you visit between November and December you will also see some baby chicks. We went at the end of July, which was beneficial for us as there weren’t many other tourists to compete with and, as aforementioned, we still encountered much of the wildlife.
Most tourists will travel to nearby Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins for their nightly march back to their burrows. We did both encounters. Our experience was that both viewings were unique and we would recommend everyone do both if possible. Our favourite aspect of the St Kilda Pier experience was that we were able to get up close to the wildlife (yet keeping more than three metres away) – and it was free. To think that a colony of penguins chooses to live on an inner-city beach is truly mind-blowing; for such a shy species to willingly live so close to humans inspires me to consider that perhaps humans aren’t so bad after all.
The Little Penguin colony located here is managed and cared for by Earthcare St Kilda. A volunteer penguin guide is present every night to ensure tourists don’t harm the penguins by abiding by the rules they have set up to protect the penguins. These are:
No handling or feeding of the penguins
No flash photography of the penguins
No torches to be shone on the penguins without a red filter over the front
No dogs past the entry gate into the penguin viewing area, trained assistance dogs excepted
No climbing or sitting on the rocks
No littering, please take your litter with you
Keep at least 3m away from penguins moving around the viewing area
While people are generally respectful and mindful of the penguins’ welfare, unfortunately a fence was erected over the breakwater in July 2017 to protect the colony due to some harmful behaviour.
Seeing the penguins up close was honestly a treat I will never forget and an experience I highly recommend!
In lieu of the free encounter, I would advocate making a small donation to Earthcare St Kilda for their work at St Kilda Pier. There is a donation pole at the kiosk on the pier or you can alternatively donate here.
This is the basic itinerary of a road-trip from the Central Coast to Melbourne and back, recently completed by my partner Luke and I.
The trip ranges across 9 days, so we took advantage of all the must-see places and attractions in order to make the most of a short holiday! We would recommend taking this road-trip over a fortnight, if possible, in order to experience all these amazing places to their fullest. However, if taking more time off isn’t possible (like it wasn’t for me), we would suggest taking this trip in summer, as we found (since we went in winter) we were often chasing the sun, which rushed us along a bit.
Please click the hyperlinks to see more detail about specific aspects of our trip. ((These will be uploaded as they are ready)
Accomodation: Airbnb in Canberra (host wished to stay anonymous).
We travelled on a very overcast, winter day, and as a result drove alongside some of the most beautiful scenery. We stopped at multiple rest stops between Goulburn and Canberra to take in the views. Imagine: Rolling, gray-green hills being grazed by nonchalant sheep; speckled by gray-green trees, dotted with rusty brown leaves; and, distant windmill farms shrouded by low, misty clouds.
9pm: Walk down St Kilda pier to view Little Penguin colony
We had intended on driving through Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Maldon, but unfortunately made a wrong-turn that led to use by-passing these. This ended up being a blessing in disguise as we later only just made it to the Hanging Rock with enough time to skim the beautiful reserve before they locked the park.I’ve included these on the map. Consider splitting this part of the trip into two days.
10am: Shopping at Melbourne Central
2pm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, pt. 1
5:00: Drinks and dinner at Lazerpig
7:30pm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, pt. 2
We didn’t do this ourselves, however, after the Cursed Child would’ve been an opportune time to have a night out bar-hopping.
11:40: Historic train from Thomson Station to Walhalla Station
12: Lunch at Wally’s Pub, Walhalla
12:45: Walk through historic town; stopping in at the historic Post Office, Sweet Shop, feeding some wild King Parrots outside the Sweet Shop, and viewing historic buildings in the town such as the old Bank of Victoria.
1:30: Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine Tour
2:45: Walk back to Thomson Station, via Tramline Path- Australian Alps Walking Track- Mormontown Track
3:45: Leave for Lakes Entrance via The Honeysuckles (1hr 40 mins) – Golden Beach (20 mins) – Lakes Entrance (2hrs)
We were travelling on a Sunday so our Airbnb host warned us that there may not be anywhere to eat in the vicinity of Lakes Entrance. We also didn’t see any food places along the 90 Mile Beach. Consequently, we stopped at a McDonaldson the way… so if McDonalds isn’t to your taste, we recommend taking your own dinner along.
If you choose to skip The 90 Mile Beach, the drive from Thomson Station to Lakes Entrance is only about 2.5 hours.
Day 8: Lakes Entrance to Jervis Bay
9.30am: Leave Lakes Entrance for Jervis Bay (7 hour drive)
12:30pm: Eden Lookout and Rotary Park
1:30pm: Lunch at Longstocking Brewery, Pambula
Dessert at Bodalla Dairy Shed
6:30: Arrive at Balan Village Motel (a Best Western), Bomaderry
Dinner at Chef Tony’s Modern Chinese Restaurant (attached to motel)
We chose to stay in Bomaderry due to the prices of accommodation around Jervis Bay, which meant we had to back-track about 35 minutes to spend the following day in Jervis Bay. We liked the motel, but not the area; so, with this in mind alongside the back-tracking, if we were to redo our choice of accommodation, we would’ve spent the extra money to stay in Jervis Bay.
Day 9: Jervis Bay to home
10am: Check out of motel
11am: Hyams Beach
12:00: Blenheim Beach
12:30 Huskinsson Beach and Moona Moona Creek
2:00 Abraham’s Bosom Reserve Walking Track
4:15: Leave for home via Grand Pacific Drive and Seacliff Bridge in Wollongong
Sunset at Kingsford-Smith Memorial Lookout
We only stayed on the Grand Pacific Drive until sunset, which for us was as we were driving past Kingsford-Smith Memorial Lookout. We then joined the fastest route home, via the Princes Highway. However, we plan on doing the full Grand Pacific Drive between Wollongong and home another time as it definitely looks like a must-do!