The Magic Of Melbourne – Seeing Penguins At St Kilda

Seeing penguins at St Kilda

In continuing my Magic of Melbourne series I should really call this post the magic of St Kilda but it would be too confusing. There is magic in seeing wild penguins though so it is delight to see penguins at St Kilda.

St Kilda Beach

St Kilda Beach


St Kilda is a beach hang out spot located just south of Melbourne city. Maybe a 10 minute tram ride from the CBD (Central Business District).


The beach isn’t too bad actually with lots of space to roam plus a hive of activity of water sports.

Views Of St Kilda Beach where you can find the St Kilda penguins

Views Of St Kilda Beach


St Kilda normally draws a youngish crowd at night as it is the trendy place to be seen for many Melbournese. However it is not just the young party goers who hang out here.


As tourists to Melbourne many people will take the tours to Phillip Island to see penguins. This is a protected area and you will literally see loads of penguins. I’ve done the trip myself and really enjoyed it. The downsides of the trip was that it was quite pricey, you have to take maybe a two hour coach ride there and back and you are not allowed to take photos, not one. You do see hundreds of penguins though and I love penguins, they are so cute.


I did recently find out though that penguins have also been settling on the breakwater rocks at St Kilda. This has been happening since around the early 1970s and it is now a protected area.


The great thing about this is that it is free (well if you’ve already bought your Myki day/week pass for zone 1 it is). You can also take pictures although not with a flash. Bright lights are proven to make penguins stressful. Not only can this harm their health but they may regurgitate all the fish they’ve taken in that day. We don’t want all those baby penguins to go hungry now do we.


So excited to see penguins again I headed to St Kilda Pier one Saturday night.

Looking Down St Kilda Pier looking for the St Kilda penguins

Looking Down St Kilda Pier


The pier was originally built in 1904 but burnt down on 11th September 2003. It was since rebuilt in 2005 and now hosts a restaurant on it, although book in advance if you want to use it.


The pier is quite a stunning sight. You can also get some great landscape pictures of the Melbourne skyline.

Melbourne City Landscape From St Kilda Pier just before seeing the St Kilda penguins

Melbourne City Landscape From St Kilda Pier


Just past the restaurant are a few signs about penguins and what you’ll find at the breakwater at the end of the pier. Not only will you find penguins but a kind of water rat creature called Rakali also live on the rocks.

What You Will Find On St Kilda Breakwater are penguins and rakali

What You Will Find On St Kilda Breakwater


Just before sunset people head towards the breakwater viewing area to get a good spot.

The Viewing Area On St Kilda Breakwater where you can find the St Kilda penguins

The Viewing Area On St Kilda Breakwater


I’d get there early as it can get quite busy.

It Does Become Quite Busy On A Saturday Night as everyone looks for the St Kilda penguins

It Does Become Quite Busy On A Saturday Night


On the night I was there we were joined by three ladies in luminous yellow coats. They are there to look after the preservation of the penguins. They spent most of the time telling people to keep off the rocks since that is where the penguins live. In spite of their instructions some people were still stupid enough to go on the rocks which led the women to become more and more vocal.


The ladies in yellow coats also kept telling people not to use flash lights which inevitably some people ignored.

Melbourne At Sunset from St Kilda Pier breakwater

Melbourne At Sunset


Admittedly it was very dark once the sun went down and very difficult to get any decent pictures without a flash. To help us though the three ladies had red light torches. These have been proven not to be distressing for penguins. I think I even heard one of the ladies saying penguins were colour blind.

Penguins At St Kilda - look who I found

Penguin At St Kilda


I was able to see some penguins come to shore as they come home for the night. I probably saw maybe a dozen which was a little disappointing considering how many I saw in Phillip Island. However we were right beside the rocks and could see plenty of penguins either nesting for the night or stood on rocks as curious of us as we were of them.

Penguins at St Kilda Are You Looking At Me

Are You Looking At Me


I found that if you wait a little while after sunset most of the crowds disappear so you can get a much better view of them.

Penguins at St Kilda is where I found Two Penguins In The Red Light District

Two Penguins In The Red Light District


I really enjoyed my trip to St Kilda that night. I can’t think of anything which offers more magic of Melbourne than seeing real life penguins in their natural home.

Penguins at St Kilda Quick Hide The Paparazzi Are Here

Quick Hide The Paparazzi Are Here



  1. says

    You know I’ve been to Australia but haven’t visited Melbourne, so I guess a visit is in order!

    Looks like a great city!

    I agree with Agness, those penguins are super cute :)

  2. says

    OH MY! St Kilda has been added to my places of MUST VISIT. Along with the penguins in Cape Town, these guys are now high on my list of priorities. Maybe I should skip my Sydney visit and just go to Melbourne instead… hmmm!

    • says

      That is great news Bennett. Melbourne is often shunned from the highlights by Sydney. I’m glad that I’ve been able to remind people of the wonders of this fabulous city.

  3. says

    I went to Melbourne years ago and I remember loving St. Kilda, I didn’t see any penguins though, I didn’t even know there were any in that area, such a shame. :(
    I went to Phillip Island to see them and it was magical!

    • says

      Thanks for visiting Franca. Philip Island really is magical isn’t it? :-) I’ve been going frequently to Melbourne for over a decade and only heard about the penguins this time. Shall we keep it as our little secret?

    • says

      Hi Suzy. Yes a bright flash is not good news as it can raise their heart rate and potentially risk them bringing up all that food they’d been fishing for. Not good if they have little baby penguins waiting back at the nest.


  1. […] Melbourne – I’ve written a lot about Melbourne, little wonder really – I visit it maybe once or twice a year and love it more and more each time. For such a large city it has quite a concentrated city centre with easy access to all the main attractions (museums, shopping, sporting events – of which there are many). It is also well supported with public transport. There is a definite chic about the place, everyone dresses to impress. It is full of culinary delights to match any appetite. There is also a nearby beach where you can see the wild penguins at St Kilda. […]

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