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].
The latest place I have discovered for a Wi-Fi connection was from the café chairs and tables outside the delicatessen hall at Queen Victoria Market. Located on the Cnr. of Elizabeth Street and Thierry Streets outside the side entrance to the Delicatessen Hall.
The access Wi-Fi I tapped into was from McDonalds on the opposite corner, with no need to be inside to the store, I accessed the connection from across the road.
This is a great place to have lunch and we purposely went to have one of the continental sausages from ‘Bratwurst Shop & Co.’ I had a spicy bratwurst for approximately $7.20 topped with Sauerkraut, cheese and my choice of mustard. Let the queue above at the counter speak for itself. If a sausage does not take you fancy there is a feast of Delicatessen stallholders plying there produce for you to try just inside the hall.
There is another Wi-Fi spot at Queen Victoria Market, Cnr. Queen and Victoria Streets, within the Food Court area.
We walked from the market down Swanston Street though the city to Federation Square for a coffee, Cnr. Flinders & Swanston Streets. Located there is another place to catch up on your email, upload your latest blog or travel pictures, sitting on the steps basking in the sun. If you are lucky you’ll catch one of the international or local buskers entertaining, or you can call into the Melbourne Visitor and Information Centre located below.
If the weather is no so warm try the Great Space Cafe at 45 Collins Street, underneath the Sofitel in the food court area. Popular with the corporate community this ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street location gets busy during the lunchtime period.
Wi-Fi Hot Spots can be found in several places around the city you’ll find a more comprehensive list thanks to ‘Only Melbourne’ here. Most sites are free wireless internet connections, or free with the purchase of a coffee…
What’s underneath the Onion Skin:
Other things to do nearby – it’s a Market, shop till you drop and the Melbourne City Baths in Swanston Street
Close by to: Melbourne Central and CBD, juts walk further up Elizabeth Street
Suburb/Neighbourhood: NORTH MELBOURNE [45 minutes walk from Southbank Homestay]
Food: Bratwurst & Co.
How to get there: Melways reference – Map 2B C12
By Car: Stacks of parking at the rear of the market
By Tram: 19, 57 & 59 from anywhere in Elizabeth Street
By City Explorer Bus: – – Free tourist shuttle, get off at stop 8 for the Queen Victoria Market . Walk through the market to the opposite side and main entrance on Elizabeth Street.
Hosier Lane is located between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street opposite the entrance to Federation Square Atrium, and well worth the walk across the road. The walls of this and adjacent laneway buildings form the canvas for the artists work. To some ‘Tagging’ as this art is frequently called, is frowned upon – even these folk I think may walk away thinking WOW!!.
If you are visiting at the weekend you may even catch some Melbourne’s newly weds in vintage cars using the laneway as the backdrop to their wedding photos.
At the end of the lane is located two Spanish Tapas Bars, the perfect place to end your walk and visit to this space.
THE CHILDREN’S GARDEN
Located adjacent to the Observatory Gate and Café, opposite the Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre on Birdwood Avenue, the Children’s Garden entrance is down a pathway with magical creatures shaped out of plants.
This fenced garden is a perfect place to let the kids explore and investigate a garden, getting their hands dirty as they find the hidden secrets.
The Meeting Place which has a water feature that sprays up out of the ground in summer, is a hoot of fun, dodging the water jets to cool down. It always seems to entice those who ‘s parents didn’t bring the spare set of shorts and a towel, which I recommend. A great spot to let them free whilst having some fun. You could even let your own inhibitions down and play dodge yourself!!
Nearby watch out for the sculpture by Louis Laumen of characters from the classic Australian children’s book by Norman Lindsay – The Magic Pudding. This is a great spot if you can weave you kids around the characters for a photo shoot.
From the oriental hut you’ll overlook the Wetland Area with Bamboo Forest behind and buried inside is a platform to climb which is often missed and a great spot to wave to seated adults on the other side of the garden.
The Rill is a gentle waterway that runs through the Garden which you will stumble across at some stage and if you are tackling the garden in a clockwise fashion, it will lead you to the plant tunnel. At the back of this section you’ll come to the shell of a burnt out tree stump. Be inquisitive with your kids and get inside, looking up you may be lucky to spot the resident possum if around having a siesta.
The Children’s Garden built with assistance from the Ian Potter Foundation is well worth a visit and is easy to while away an hour or more. It is perfect for combining with other close by attractions and one activity that provide balance for the younger family members in a days Melbourne sightseeing.
What’s underneath the Onion Skin – other things to do nearby:
If you are visiting the Children’s Garden with kids, further along the path from it’s entrance, inside the Royal Botanical Gardens [RBG] there are three other things which may add to your visit. This will be of course dependent on energy, age and interest of those with you.
First you’ll come across the Herb Garden and a great spot to extend the play and learning in the raised garden beds in the Children’s Garden. Further down the lawns you’ll see the ornamental lake, a great spot to see ducks, water fowl and Australia’s Black Swan and if you choose to walk through the fern gully on the way, look up and you may see fruit bats hanging in the tree tops. Thirdly there is Guilfoyle’s Volcano – the rebuilt reservoir, built with arid plants, rock and scoria has a great spiral walkway, this would have appeal to those a little older.
Food: The Observatory Gate and Café is metres from this garden entrance a great spot to purchase a coffee or an ice cream. Alternatively there is a lawn area to share your picnic if you have brought one or let the kids run and let off some steam.
Inside the RBG overlooking the Ornamental Lake is located another café which has a more adult vibe, but great for a Devonshire tea.
Suburb/Neighbourhood: MELBOURNE [5 minutes from South Melbourne Homestay]
How to get there: Melway reference – Map 2F K12
By Car: Parking around the Tan, there are a range of two and four hour parking spots or weekend s on St Kilda Road
St Kilda Road and Dorcas Street – stop number 19 walk up through the Shrine of Remembrance forecourt and past the Vietnam War Memorial.
St Kilda Road and Coventry Street – stop number 18 walk past the Shrine of Remembrance Boulevard to the roundabout and right along Birdwood Avenue. This is a gradual flatter approach but a little further to walk but easier managing a stroller and children or if steps might be a difficulty.
The Domain Road intersection Terminus– walk from the rear of the Shrine reserve to Birdwood Avenue.
By City Explorer Bus: – Free tourist shuttle, get off at stop 13 for the Shrine and Royal Botanical Gardens. Walk further along the road in the direction that the bus travels to the Observatory Gate and entrance to the Children’s Garden.