St. Kilda Pier offers an unusual gem of a natural wildlife experience within the shadows of an Australian Metropolis, as it’s home to several thousand penguins.
An active colony of little penguins (formerly known as “fairy” penguins) has lived at the breakwater at the end of the pier in St. Kilda, a small suburb of Melbourne, since the pier’s construction in the mid-1950s.
A small but dedicated group of volunteers looks after the penguins, helping keep them safe from wayward tourists. The volunteers will point out penguins nestled among the rocks and help people locate the animals while also protecting them from overeager visitors.
Crowds of people arrive most evenings, but often leave shortly after sundown. Occasionally, you can find the penguins hiding in the rocks in daylight hours, but they’ll be more active and mobile after dark. To see the most activity, come prepared to stay well into the night. Make sure you give the birds plenty of space and move if they scamper across the place you’re standing.
Know Before You Go
The penguins are mostly active after nightfall. There are no available restrooms and temperatures drop significantly on the pier after sundown.
Do not feed, touch, or handle them, and move if they start coming toward you. Don’t crowd them if they happen to be away from the protective fences, and stay off the rocks that lead down to the water. Don't use flash photography or white flashlights (red filtered illumination is alright) to view or photograph the penguins. It can sicken or injure the penguins, and you'll at best get a good dose of crowd shaming.