A Return to Penguin Tasmania
We’re back in Penguin! Nope – just tricking! While writing an article about Tasmanian churches, I came across a photo taken by Dan Fellow. It shows the charming, heritage listed Uniting Church located on the Penguin foreshore. Unlike its sandstone counterparts in Richmond and Sorell, it was built in 1903 from timber and has decorative woodworking features.
The Big Penguin
Also fronting the Bass Strait beach in Penguin is a large statue of the town’s namesake. The town was named in 1861 to honour the resident seabird population, and Little Penguins are still making rookeries along the north west coast of Tasmania their home. Tourists love to have their photo taken with the massive creature as a souvenir of their travel.
It must be said that this is the only guaranteed way to get a photo of a penguin. The wildlife favourite is definitely found here, and breeding pairs come ashore at dusk to their burrows or tunnels. However, finding and photographing the elusive coastal creature, especially considering their aversion to bright light, might prove challenging.
Penguins, but not at Penguin!
Visitors on the search in Tasmania for a penguin experience are usually directed elsewhere by volunteers at the Tourist Information Centre. A pleasant coastal drive to the east, past the Ling Perry Gardens, will lead to a coastal reserve called Lillico Beach. Between Ulverstone and Devonport, the reserve is home to a penguin colony and is popular with wildlife watchers.
Strangely enough, the best place to spot one of these coastal creatures in its natural habitat is in Burnie, a 15 minute drive to the west. I say strangely, because Burnie is a city with an industrial port. But just like the cruise passengers that frequent the city, penguins have found lots to like about Burnie and warmed to the location.
The Little Penguin Observation Centre and Habitat is located behind the Burnie Makers Workshop. Twilight viewing times suggested are an approximate guide only, because the birds keep their own schedule! They can be seen clambering across the sand to their nests after fishing in the waters of Bass Strait during the day.
Shy Coastal Creatures
And while the penguins can be seen all year, the best time to plan a visit is during spring and summer. This is the bird’s breeding season, when they come ashore at nightfall in pairs. Due to the sensitive nature of the animals and their habitat, the observation centre offers a chance to appreciate the adorable creatures without causing them too much disturbance.
If patience is not one of your virtues, or you don’t fancy having to adjust your vision to the light available when the star attraction does magically appear… you might prefer to join one of the organised wildlife tours. In Tasmania, there are penguin-watching opportunities at Low Head, Bicheno, Bonnet Island, Bruny Island, Stanley… and the list goes on!
Thanks to Dan Fellow for taking some of the photos for this article… of both Penguin and a penguin! He’s much more patient and clever than we are when it comes to photography… of wildlife and all things Tasmanian!
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