Penguin Island can be found off the shores of Safety Bay. There are two islands in this area. One is Seal Island and the other is Penguin Island.
There are, once again, a range of ways to get to this island. One is by ferry, the other is by some water transportation device and the last is that you can walk to it. There is a sand bar ridge which is shallow enough to allow people to walk across. Needless to say, that the tide can come in pretty quickly and people have had to be rescued before. Notably, if you walk across it is suggested you wear the correct gear. Further, if you plan to stay the day, make sure you have money for a ferry across. Chances are that you will need to take one.
I chose to kayak across. Of course I had a number of goals in mind. One of them was to kayak to penguin island.
Penguin Island has a fascinating history. Seaforth McKenzie camped on this island between 1914 and 1917 where he later turn the island into his permanent home. The island was declared a reserve for game, and McKenzie was granted a lease until 1935. It was not until 1957, when the National Parks Board took over administration and the island was classified as a ‘A Class Reserve’. Between 1935 and 1957 there was a lot of squabble over who had administrative rights. Within the time span of squabbling, huts were erected on the island for visitors. However, the National Parks Board soon removed all the huts and restored the natural vegetation of the island. They further added a Penguin rescue center which was called the Discovery center and basically restored order to both Penguin and Seal Island.
The penguins that live on the island are called Fairy Penguins. They are the smallest of all penguins. Because they molt from December to January, it is difficult for them to hunt and feed until they grow new plumage. Fairy penguins are shy and will often hide in little caves and burrows.
Penguin Island is also the home to the Pelican colony. This colony is on the far side of the island which is not accessible to visitors and is strictly off-limits for exploration. There is a board walk which will take you part the way, however one is left to view the colony either through mechanical binoculars, compliments of the National Parks Board, or through other devices you may have brought with you.
Apart from Pelicans, one can also find an abundance of rock pigeons and bridled tern. The thick foliage offers a perfect environment for nests.
There are a number of beaches around the island where you can place your gear for the day. There are also a range of places that offer the perfect scuba diving experience. With an abundance of rocks and sea plants means there is a strong chance to see a variety of fish and other little sea critters.
From personal experience, I found one day at Penguin Island was not enough. There were a number of rules I broke on the day which I am paying for and I will share. However, if you have not seen Penguin Island you should put that on the list of places to see and do!
7 Things to Remember:
- The sun during November to February is severe and especially if you are kayaking. By taking your time to ensure you have enough sun screen will prevent you from a couple of weeks of pain. Remember – you will not miss much by taking a few minutes to put on sunscreen.
- Take a spare set of dry clothes. If I had to give myself some advice, make sure you have TWO tops with you.
- If you are taking your camera, make sure you have a waterproof bag. My little backpack did not hold too well in the water environment.
- Take it all back. Whatever you take with you to the island, take back with you. This includes your esky, trash and any other belongings you may have brought with you.
- Snorkel gear – if you have some, take it with. Well worth the experience.
- Walking – if you walked across make sure it is safe to walk back. Otherwise take a ferry. Some people have drowned from a rising tide.
- Water – Always take water. I went through 2 liters of water.
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