The Phillip Island Penguin Parade is a hugely popular attraction that took us 7.5 years to visit with our son despite living only 2 hours away! Why did it take us so long? Because during summer, when the weather is best, the penguins don’t start coming in until around 8.00 pm or as late as 9.00 pm. This just seemed too late with a child and driving home afterwards would make it even later. We considered going to the Penguin Parade in winter, but thought the cold, wet weather might dampen the experience.


But we finally went…in winter 2019…and it was marvellous!


The penguins at Phillip Island were previously called Fairy Penguins – but this was considered politically incorrect – so now they are Little Penguins


Updated 5.04.2021. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links which could result in Many Journeys Blog receiving a small commission at no extra cost to you.

There is strictly NO PHOTOGRAPHY at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade. All photos in this blog post are courtesy of the Phillip Island Penguin Parade App which has an image library if you wish to see more photos. 

Reason 1: Penguins arrive earlier

The Little Penguins return from ocean feeding at sunset but won’t leave the water until they feel it is dark enough to do so safely. Even a full moon can provide unfavourable light conditions and scare the Little Penguins from waddling up the beach!

Arrival times are available on the Penguin Parade website, but generally during the summer months the penguins won’t be visible until around 8.00 pm and can be as late as 9.00 pm. This makes it a late night with small children, or those who don’t enjoy late nights.

In late autumn and winter, the Little Penguins arrive around 5.30 pm – 6.00 pm making it an earlier night.

Little Penguin
Penguin on sand

Reason 2: Less crowds

Spring and summer are the peak periods for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade (along with school holiday and public holidays), but the number of visitors drops in winter. You will have better viewing locations and more room to move around watching the Little Penguins along the boardwalk.

EXPLORE | There is so much beauty in the Gippsland region with more articles on the main destination page.

PLAN | Looking for more reasons to visit the Phillip Island Penguin Parade? Then head to the main blog post on the Penguin Parade.

penguin parade viewing

Reason 3: Accommodation is cheaper

Whilst the ticket price for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade is the same all year, the accommodation on Phillip Island is cheaper over winter.

Advice for a winter trip to Phillip Island Penguin Parade

So you are thinking you will avoid the crowds, get cheaper accommodation and have an earlier night? Here are some tips:


Bring something to sit on

You are not allowed to stand in the seating area, so even if the seats are totally saturated you will have to sit. Which means a very wet and cold bottom! Bringing something to sit on will also be more comfortable, as the seats are very hard.


Rug up

The temperature drops quickly so bring very warm clothes.


Have a positive attitude

No point going in winter and then complaining about the cold! Embrace the seasons!


Strollers/pushers must be left at the top of seating

You can’t bring a stroller/pusher down into the seating area, they have to stay at the top. You can either leave the stroller and bring bubs with you to sit down, or stand with the stroller and still have a view of the beach. This might be an inconvenience if you were planning to use the weather covers etc on the pusher but you don’t want to stand up.


Walk around

At the start, you sit in the seating area and watch the Little Penguins make the dash from the water to the safety of the sand dunes. This is really cute, but the best way to see the Little Penguins is to walk around the boardwalks and see them scurrying through the vegetation and hanging out near the burrow entrances. Walking around will also help you stay a bit warmer as the wind can be really cold at the seating area since it is facing the water.


Check the weather before you book tickets

Since the Penguin Parade isn’t as busy at this time of year you won’t need to book too far in advance. I still recommend pre-purchasing tickets to avoid disappointment, but 1-2 days in advance should be enough.


Stay the night

We really enjoyed leaving the Penguin Parade and going back to the hotel  in Cowes to warm up and snuggle-down for the night!

Penguin Parade Boardwalk

Getting There

The Phillip Island Penguin Parade is towards the west end of Phillip Island, around 90 minutes from Melbourne with self drive being the most convenient option.  Limited public transport is available from Melbourne to Cowes (mix of train and bus) via V/Line but this only gets you to the township of Cowes and not to the Penguin Parade.  Tours are available from Melbourne if driving is not a preference – check out the backpackers for cheaper bus options or use an online booking service like Get Your Guide.

PLAN | Have you considered what you might need to visit Australia, or the best time to visit the state of Victoria?

Pin Me!


Books to Inspire

Lonely Planet Australia
Lonely Planet Melbourne and Victoria
Best Walks East of Melbourne

There is strictly NO PHOTOGRAPHY at the Phillip Island Penguin Parade. All photos in this blog post are courtesy of the Phillip Island Penguin Parade App which has an image library if you wish to see more photos.