Cristy Burne

Science writer, children's author, editor

Island-hopping with kids: Penguin Island

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Penguin Island.JPGMost travellers love a good island adventure, and despite being notoriously boat-sick, I’m one of them!

I’ve been diving on the remote Ogasawara islands in Japan.

Exploring Elephanta Island in India.

Caving on Christmas Island (while researching a story on Christmas Island crabs).

Bird watching on NZ’s pristine Ulva Island.

(And does sunbaking on a Greek island count as adventure?)

We’re so lucky here in Perth.

We have our own magical islands: My next book (out with Fremantle Press in June!) is set on Rottnest Island.

And who could forget Penguin Island?

If you haven’t been, take a day and surprise yourself. We take the family every year, and it’s always fantastic!

I wrote this article a while back, but it’s particularly relevant right now: the last week of school holidays, stinking hot… Let’s go island-hopping!

Island-hopping with kids

By Cristy Burne

FIRST PUBLISHED IN PERTH WOMAN MAGAZINE

Want to get away for the day? How about an island paradise, with penguins, sea-lions, and white, sandy beaches?

And how about we throw in some entertainment for the kids, to keep them busy so you can really relax?

How about getting away to WA’s own Penguin Island?

Penguin Island really is as luscious as it sounds. There are picnic tables, family-friendly boardwalks, more than a thousand Little Penguins hiding out in caves or vegetation, and it’s all surrounded by the dolphin-friendly waters of The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

The neighbours are just as much fun: a protected colony of Australian sea-lions, who laze their days away on the beaches of Seal Island, just to the north.

Getting there

So how many hours of travel/torture must one endure to arrive on these sandy shores?

Not a one.

Penguin Island is just 45 minutes from Perth, so even the wriggliest of travelers will find getting there a breeze.

Just pop the kids (or a kayak) in the back, and cruise south to Rockingham’s Mersey Point jetty. Here the parking is free and easy, the public toilets are clean, and the café sells good coffee and last-minute picnic supplies. Ferries leave for the island from the jetty on the hour.

Lost? I don’t think so

You’ll find it hard to get lost on Penguin Island: more than 30 islands this size would fit into one Kings Park.

Most of the island is a penguin playground of scrub hollows and tiny limestone caves, protected from human feet by boardwalks and walkways.

Kids (and adults) will love wandering the boardwalks for a penguin-spotting adventure.

My hot tip is to go heads-down tails-up and sneak a peek under the boardwalks—the penguins love hiding in the shady cool.

While you’re there, check out the island’s other birdlife, including a rare coastal breeding colony of Australian Pelicans.

Or just kick back on the beach while the kids splash out.

If you’re ready to take a break from sandcastles and snorkeling, wander up to the Penguin Experience Island Discovery Centre, home to a number of rescued and rehabilitated Little Penguins, and some great information.

Make sure you’re there for feeding time, when you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the little waddlers hitting the water to become graceful birds.

Paddle to Penguin

Want to stretch the muscles with some sweat-powered touring? You can hire kayaks from the café, or book a kayak tour.

You don’t have to be an expert, and kayaks give you the autonomy to explore both Penguin and Seal Islands, discovering hidden bays, craggy caves, and muscles you didn’t know you had.

These islands are wildlife sanctuaries, so landing is only permitted at Penguin Island’s main beach. This won’t stop the sea-lions, who can be quite curious…just don’t fall out if one swims by to sniff hello!

This article first appeared in Perth Woman magazine

Author: cristyburne

Author: http://www.cristyburne.com

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