This walk takes you from the end of the number one tram line at South Melbourne beach along to St. Kilda Pier and the breakwater where the Penguins return at dusk. The number of penguins will vary depending on the time of year, which in winter can be from 5.00pm to about 10.00 pm at the height of summer. There are a number of transport and add on options included in this post.
The breakwater is a bit of a surprise to visitors with a location so close to the city for viewing penguins. It is a good alternative to making the trek down to Phillip Island where you will find the world famous Penguin Parade and the largest of penguin colonies in Australia. Penguins return to shore after feeding in the Great Southern Ocean. If on an organised tour to the island [half or full day] or self-guided the travel time will be 90 minutes each way minimum.
At both locations the larger number of penguins return in late spring and summer. Parents return to feed chicks in the nests in the burrows at dusk when less predators are about. You will often hear the noise of the chicks coming from the nests in the rocks or under the board walk [Mum – I am hungry].
The St. Kilda location is a little unique and surprise being located in an urban environment. When as a tourist, you are time poor having only allowed a couple of days to see the many things that Melbourne has to offer, it is a bonus to your stay.
Take the number one tram to South Melbourne beach, where the tram terminates at stop 32 Beaconsfield Parade / Victoria Ave. For those interested, alighting earlier at stop 27 at corner of Park and Montague Streets provides a detour walk St. Vincent Place to view early Victorian architecture and grand homes of the late nineteenth century.
Resuming the tram trip if you have taken the detour continue to end and get off at the South Melbourne Beach stop. Cross the road at this T intersection, turn left to walk along the beach footpath towards St Kilda and the marina. The closest path to the beach is pedestrian only and runs along the edge of the sea wall.
[Click on the images below to enlarge]
Walk to the pier and at the end you find located a kiosk and bar, Little Blue. It is a great spot to take in the view of the city across the Marina and watch locals and tourists participating in the water sport activities on offer be it yachting, stand up paddling, wind surfing and kiting. Having walked along the foreshore you will have passed the hire companies or schools based nearby in caravans or offices. Many people don’t realise the vastness of the Port Philip Bay on which Melbourne is located. The Great Southern Ocean is about 58 kms south on the bay and through the heads.
To the left of the kiosk on the marina is a jetty, where people start to gather sitting with their feet over the edge. From experience position yourself at the far end next to the steps that access the jetty. You should be able to see any penguins that come in from the water, but be sure to turn around and look at the rocks behind and under the steps. As it gets darker you’ll find up on the breakwater some, will come in from the seaward side, keep an eye out for other people gathering. Remember the parents are coming back to the nest to feed their young and will consider you a predator, be quiet and you’ll be rewarded.
Don’t expect large numbers but with patience will get you one on one moment with the fairy penguins, this encounter is a privilege and I am always in awe of the location and urban environment. There are usually a couple of volunteer guides who will answer any questions you have and are there to look after the welfare of the penguins so please follow their requests if made.
As mentioned viewing time will depend on the time of the year and in summer gets really late as dusk is not until well after 9.00pm.
As an indicator the writer did this walk in spring, late October and the penguins were out and about at about 7.45pm.
Returning home to Southbank after the viewing, catch tram 3a and 16 from nearby Fitzroy Street to Grant Street, which runs along St Kilda Road to other destinations, Arts Precinct, Federation Square and Flinders Street Railway Station. Also connecting with trams to other locations.
Directions to tram stop – from the end of pier, continue straight ahead up on to the bridge to cross the road and access the esplanade and walk left 200 metres.
What’s underneath the Onion Skin – add on and other things nearby:
St. Vincent Place -Victorian Grand homes and Architecture from the late nineteenth Century.
Luna Park – historic amusement park with old world and new rides
Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research – located in nearby Elsternwick.
Craft Market St Kilda Esplanade [Sundays] – great for local artisans products, crafts and good tourist souvenirs
St. Kilda Sea Baths – Oceanside featuring an indoor salt-water pool and day spa,
St. Kilda Beach foreshore – water sports, kite surfing
Food: Acland Street with a great eclectic mix of foods, particularly good are the Jewish and east European cake shops.
Suburb/ Neighborhood: St. Kilda and nearby Elwood, Elsternwick
How to get there: Melway reference – Map 57 H10
By Car: park along St. Kilda foreshore and remember to feed the meters, the park inspectors are vigilant.
By Tram: 1 to South Melbourne Beach to do this walk. Direct to almost the end of the pier 3a and 16 along St Kilda Road, or 96 from Bourke Street and 112 from Collins Street or South Melbourne Market [rear].
You will be surprised what you find just behind the glass – below is is a recent piece by artist Artist – Ichwan Noo which was on display.
VW CARS COMPRESSED INTO PERFECT SPHERES AND CUBES
NATIONAL GALLERY of VICTORIA, INTERNATIONAL
– Since 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria has been displaying art works for the enjoyment of the community. In the mid-1990s, the gallery acknowledged that its St Kilda Road building could no longer successfully meet the demands of its growing collection and extensive exhibitions schedule.
The Collection is split between The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, home of Australian art, and NGV International at St Kilda Road, the redeveloped building dedicated to the gallery’s magnificent international artworks.
Visitors have two wonderful NGV buildings dedicated to bringing art and people together.
If you have limited time, a suggestion is to choose one gallery and focus on that collection. But if nothing else walk into the building to look at the architecture. One must is to walk to the back of the building to look at the Great Hall, either lay on the carpet or stools and see if you can spot the Australian animals. In particular look for a turtle, wombat and rainbow serpent.
Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Farm -located on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne and is about a 90 minute drive. There are plenty of things to do, from beaches to cool climate wineries and farm gate properties selling their produce. Popular for sampling and purchasing Victorian gourmet treats, is the Redhill Market.
You’ll find plenty of Bed & Breakfast properties if you wish to spend a few days in the region.
As Australia’s oldest and most famous traditional Hedge Maze now standing over 3 metres high & 2 metres thick. With four mosaic flags to find in each half of the hedge maze, the hundreds of metres of winding paths take you through the South Maze into the Centre
Garden before you tackle the North Maze. While not overly complicated it does take a little while to make your way through (some people take longer than others!) The North Maze is a totally different layout to the South Maze, so any tricks you worked out while making your way through the first part, mean absolutely nothing in the other!
The Ashcombe Hedge Maze was planted in the 1970’s with more than 1000 Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) plants. They are planted at around 1 metre intervals, and each year the hedge gets a bit bigger (and the paths get a bit narrower!) Being a drought tolerant plant the hedge only needs irrigation in extreme heat waves. It now stands more than 3m high and 2m thick.
Ashcombe Maze is open everyday (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 5pm.
What’s underneath the Onion Skin:
Suburb/Neighbourhood: Mornignton Peninsula
Food: The maze has its own café Ashcombe Café
How to get there: Melways reference Map 256 E4
The easiest way to get to Ashcombe Maze is to follow the M1 (Monash Freeway) from Melbourne and take the Mornington Peninsula/Hastings exit. This will lead you onto the Westernport Highway (A780). Follow this Highway to Hastings, then follow the (C777) road towards “Flinders”. Travel through the small villages of Balnarring and Merricks and look out for the brown tourist Ashcombe Maze signs to guide you to Shoreham which is located 7km before the township of Flinders.
Alternatively if you commence your journey from bayside or the southern suburbs of Melbourne take the Nepean Highway (3) to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway (11) and at Frankston you will pass the BP & Shell service stations and at the next roundabout you veer left into Frankston Flinders Road (C777) and 4kms further on, turn right into Coolart Road (C785) and follow the signs to Ashcombe Maze and Flinders via Balnarring.
Location: 15 Shoreham Road, Shoreham on the Mornington Peninsula