OPEN SEPTEMBER TO EARLY JUNE EACH YEAR
Penguin Island is your island adventure playground just a short 5 minute ferry ride off the mainland, with the jetty located near Pengo's Cafe & The Rockingham Wild Encounters gift shop in Shoalwater, south of Perth near Rockingham.
Penguin Island is best and most safely access by the Penguin Island Ferry that leaves on the hour from 9am, with the last ferry leaving the island at 3pm. * Warning: there is a sandbar that connects Penguin Island with the mainland. It is not recommended that this is used due to strong currents - lives have been lost by people attempting to use the sandbar to access the island
You can purchase your ferry ticket from the Rockingham Wild Encounters gift shop located next to Pengo's Cafe and we highly recommend including the Penguin Island Discovery Centre entry in your ticket purchase. This gets you unlimted access to the centre and you can watch the feedings and enjoy an educational talk at 10.30am, 12.30pm & 2.30pm. Note: There is overflow parking available if the carpark is full, just a short walk away at the Safety Bay Bowlinig Club (1 Glouster Cresent Safety Bay) or get public transport information here.
We didn't quite make the first ferry at 9am so we enjoyed a delicious breakfast from Pengo's Cafe while we waited for the ferry. It has a cute little play area suitable that young toddlers will enjoy and has a little grassed area for the kids to run around. Pengo's Cafe is a beautiful spot to enjoy breakfast or lunch with the family any day, it has a enclosed alfresco area so is also great place to eat out on a rainy day.
When the ferry arrives there is a board walk, short jetty and ramp to access the ferry so you can take prams/strollers and it is fully wheelchair accessible. The ferry ride takes about 5 mins and you get a great talk about what there is to see and do on the island including the next Penguin feeding time if you have purchased entry to the Discovery Centre. The boat is somewhat open, so if it's a cooler day you may want to bring a jacket as it could be quite cool on the ferry ride over.
Your ferry ticket is unlimited so you can go back and forth the the mainland if you want to go back to Pengo's Cafe for lunch then head back to the island for the afternoon (you'll just have to time the ferry it leaves at 10mins past each hour). If you purchased a Penguin and Seal Island Cruise in the glass bottom boat you catch the ferry for this cruise from the Penguin Island jetty.
When you arrive at the island there is a jetty and board walk to the Penguin Discovery & Feeding Centre - feedings are at 10.30, 12.30 & 2.30pm, but you can enter the centre all day long if you have purchased an entry, you'll get a stamp on your hand once your ticket is presented.
Just outside the centre are these great touch tables too!
The island picnic area is just outside the Penguin Discovery Centre - there is lots of shade and there are lots of picnic tables and grassed area to enjoy your packed lunch or a snack. Remember there are no food and drink facilities on the island you must bring your own.
There are drop bottom toilets located only a short walk from the picnic area. Also there are no bins so bring along plastic bags and snap lock bags to take all your rubbish back to the mainland.
The kids also spotted a couple of penguins burrowed under the boardwalk in this area too!
We enjoyed a walk around the island after our lunch. It's a 2km round walk around the island and takes about 1 hour. It is mostly boardwalks with a sandy walk along the beach on the west side of the island.
We firstly went to the north to see the seal lion in the caves - there are boardwalks all the way up to the caves and the north boardwalk is the best access, especially if you have a pram or wheelchair, to the west side of the island which is a beautiful swimming and snorkelling spot, well protected from the wind on a sunny day!
There are warning signs about the caves and some orange cones up warning not to get too close to the seal lion, as they can move very fast, and can be aggressive if approached. This little fellow was enjoying a nap, a yawn and rolling around in the sand, it was amazing to see the kids loved it!
We then took the South boardwalk up to the lookout point. This was a fantastic view of the island and the mainland. There are a lot of steps on the southside boardwalk to its not suitable to take prams or for wheelchair access.
We then walked down the sand dunes to the west side of the island. It was quite a windy day, but it was so well protected on this side of the island, up further on the north end of the west side is a magic swimming and snorkelling spot. There are some sandy spots and some areas of reef which are amazing for snorkelling and swimming.
We saw heaps of fish and even saw a little stingray cruising right along the shoreline over the reef - gave one of our kids a bit of a fright while they were out looking around the reef with their swimming goggles!
If its a nice warm day we highly recommend you take along the bathers and towels, and definitely bring your snorkelling gear or some swimming goggles to check out the amazing reef and marine life on this side of the island!
Walking around the whole island - If you want to walk around the whole island, it's about 2km and takes about 1 hour and you'll enjoy climbing to the lookouts, beautiful views and a great swimming spot on the west side. We recommend that you head up the south side first, then head down the sand dunes, enjoy a swim if its warm enough then take the easier walk back along the north side boardwalk.
Accessing the west side - If you have younger children and don't want to walk the whole island and perhaps have a pram, or if you are after wheelchair access, its best to use the north board walk for easier access to the west side beach. It's a ramp all the way until your reach the end then there are a few steps down to the beach.
As much as we would have loved to have spent the rest of the afternoon away at the beach, we needed to head back to get the ferry and make the trip back to Perth before it got too late, so we headed back for an afternoon snack at the picnic area while we waited for the return ferry.
The return ferry goes at 10 mins past the hour from 10am until 4pm. If the ferry is full it goes back and forth every 10 mins or so until all the passengers are returned to the mainland. If you are all a bit sandy when you get back to the mainland there is an outdoor shower just outside the toilet block behind Pengo's Cafe.
We had a fantastic adventure day out at Penguin Island and we will be sure to return each season! If you want to check it out you must do so before in closes for winter for the penguin breeding season - or you'll have to wait until September to get there.
What to Bring: packed picnic lunch | plenty of water | picnic blanket | swimming gear | snorkelling gear or swimming goggles | shade if you want to spend some time at the beach | light pram/stroller if you have younger children | hats & sunscreen | plastic bags or snap lock bags for your rubbish.
Just remember whatever you take you have to carry there's no where to leave your things secured. If you want to spend some time at the beach we recommend you bring a pop up shade or light umbrella that's not too heavy to carry and doesn't take up too much room on the ferry.
When: September to early June each year
More Information: www.penguinisland.com.au
How To Go There: Get the ferry from cnr of Arcadia Drv & Penguin Rd Shoalwater
Review by Kids Around Perth Reporter Lauren, 30th January 2014.
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