- Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:17
Penguin Island is a truly unique place. Only 42 kilometres from the centre of Perth, it is home to a diverse array of wildlife and boasts breathtaking marine and coastal scenery. It is home to the largest colony of little penguins on the west coast and probably Western Australia. The small, 12.5-hectare island is less than 700 metres off shore from the growing regional centre of Rockingham.
Penguin Island, is one of the State's premier ecologically sustainable nature-based tourism destinations. The island has something special for visitors of all ages, whether from the local or metropolitan area, interstate or overseas. The waters surrounding the island form the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.
Visitors are advised to use the available ferry service to access Penguin Island. The ferry service operates between 9am and 4pm daily.
Contact Rockingham Wild Encounters on (08) 9591 1333 for further information regarding ferry services.
View Google Map of risk area.
Conduct a wedding or ceremony on Penguin Island
Written permission from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is required to conduct weddings and other ceremonies on Penguin Island Conservation Park.
The Penguin Experience
The Penguin Discovery Centre allows visitors to see little penguins up close in an environment similar to their natural habitat, and learn about them through feedings, commentaries and displays. The birds that live in this facility have either been rejected by their mothers as chicks, and raised by wildlife carers or nursed back to health after injury. They would otherwise have died. They have now become so used to people that they would probably be unable to survive in the wild.
Visitors can also enjoy picnic areas, lookouts, pristine beaches and the beauty of the island itself. Snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, surfing and exploring the island's network of boardwalks and walkways are other popular pursuits.
A newly constructed boardwalk provides access between the jetty, picnic area, toilets and The Penguin Discovery Centre for people with disabilities.
Penguin Island abounds with seabirds, many of which are seldom seen on the mainland. They are important seabird breeding sites. Sixteen species use the Shoalwater Islands for courtship, nesting, feeding and roosting. Little penguins breed in hollows under the dense vegetation and in the limestone caves on Penguin Island. There are also breeding colonies of silver gulls and bridled terns. Other species commonly seen, but not usually breeding on the islands, include crested, fairy and Caspian terns.
Penguin Island is home to one of the few breeding colonies of Australian pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) known along the Western Australian coastline and offshore islands. They arrived during 1998, previously there have been no sittings on Penguin Island.
In the breeding colonies both birds build the nests after sufficient rain usually during Spring using sticks, grass, leaves, feathers and pebbles to form loose platforms on the ground or occasionally in the bushes.
Pelicans are extremely sensitive to disturbance and colonies are usually on secluded offshore islands. To ensure they continue breeding on Penguin Island, please avoid their habitat sites by staying on the board walks and walk trails.
The cavernous reefs around the islands provide good snorkelling and diving. The reef areas support a variety of temperate and subtropical invertebrates including sea stars, urchins and molluscs as well as a number of fish species. Bottlenose dolphins are extremely common in the surrounding waters.
Penguin Island has an interesting history. Seaforth McKenzie, an eccentric Canadian, lived on the island from about 1914 to 1926. He hollowed out several of the island's caves. Some were crudely furnished and had names like 'The Palace' and 'The Library'. Seaforth encouraged visitors and was crowned 'King of the Island' at a grandiose ceremony.
Rockfall Risk Area
Limestone formations may be unstable due to wave action and weathering. Overhangs, caves, cliffs and weathered surfaces are prone to collapse. For your safety keep on the walk trails and beaches.
Research on Penguin Island
A research and management centre has been built on Penguin Island to manage the island and undertake important research. The centre, built with $120,000 from WMC Resources Ltd, provides accommodation and facilities for researchers to study the area's wildlife and landforms. It will become a regional base for important marine, island and coastal research.
Things you need to know
Where is it? 50 kilometres south of Perth.
Travelling time: Mersey Point is less than 45 minutes drive from Perth.
Access: The island is only open during the day. Ferry tours operate from Mersey Point from mid-September to early June and leave for Penguin Island on the hour throughout the day. You can take a cruise around the waters and islands of Shoalwater Bay, with an opportunity to view the sea lions lazing on Seal Island, and the stroll around Penguin Island.
Visitors should note that access on Penguin Island is limited to walk trails and demarcated beaches only. The rest of the island is a bird sanctuary area and access is strictly prohibited.
Facilities: There is a Penguin Discovery Centre, as well as picnic tables and toilets on the island.
Commentaries and feeding of the little penguins in the Discovery Centre occurs at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
Best season: The best time to visit is from Mid-September to early June. The island is closed for the rest of the year to protect the breeding penguins from disturbance.
What to see and do: Exploring the island, snorkelling, surfing, swimming, picnicking and windsurfing are also popular activities at Penguin Island. Spear guns and gidgees are not permitted on the island or in the waters that surround it.
- Penguin Island Walktrail and Boardwalk
You can purchase a pocket-sized colour booklet Discovering Penguin Island and the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park for just $6.50 from The Penguin Discovery Centre (proceeds from the book's sale go back into management of the island). A mud map and other information is provided to help you discover and learn about the plants and animals of the island.
- Penguin Island information and walktrail guide
If you have the required software and plugins, you can now take a virtual tour of Penguin Island. Follow the instructions on the next page. See you there.
Nearest DEC Office: Rangers are stationed on the island and at Mersey Point. Phone (08) 9592 5191 and on the island. DEC's Marine Operations Unit is situated at 47 Henry Street, Fremantle. Phone (08) 9432 5111.
- Next >>