Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A to Z of Australia - I is for Islands (Part III)

Finally my last post about Islands in WA, hope you have been enjoying them.
In this post I write about Penguin Island which is my favourite of them all!

Garden Island is a limestone outcrop, about 10km long and 1 and 1/2km wide, just 5km off the coast of Rockingham, linked to the mainland by a road. 
It is now the base of the Royal Australian Navy.

Although discovered by the Dutch (not named but shown on Dutch maps in 1658, 
it was named "Ile Buache" by Baron Hamelin the Captain of the Naturalist, one of the 
3 French ships that visited between 1801 and 1803. (Jean Nicolas Buache, was a 
marine cartographer in Paris).
The island was renamed "Garden Island" in 1827 when Captain James Stirling, prepared a
garden and released a cow, two ewes and three goats to pasture. The first settlement of 
450 people was made in 1829 in a place called Sulphur Town. The island was an important 
anchorage and disembarkation point for ships until 1897, when Fremantle´s harbour was 
After World War I, it became a holiday resort with wooden cottages erected at the bay, and 
during World War II, gun batteries were located at the island, as part of the coastal defence 
system for the Fremantle Harbour facilities. At that time, the island also became part of a 
training base for the Secret services, known as "Z special unit".
Following the war, the island reverted to a holiday resort once again, and the home of the 
Royal Australian Navy reserve fleet.
In 1973 the 4,3km causeway linking the island to the mainland was finished and as of 2008 
the island is now used as the main naval based on the west coast of Australia, home to five 
frigates and all the submarines of the Australian Submarine Service and base to the 
Navy diving teams. 
Access to the island is no longer allowed to the general public, unless granted by the 
                        * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Penguin Island is located 45 min south of the city of Perth, and a 5min ferry ride across 
from the suburb of Shoalwater (near Rockingham).
The ferry departs on an hourly basis from 9am till 3pm and the last ferry returns to base 
at 4pm.
An unlimited day ticket costs $12 and if you wish to include a visit to the Discovery Centre, 
where the penguins are fed the ticket costs $17,50.
The island is opened from early September to early June including weekends and public 
holidays (except Christmas day), but is closed during winter when the penguins come 
ashore to breed.

The Discovery centre hosts 3 daily Penguin feedings at 10,30h, 12,30h and 2,30h, 
although the Sunday we went there, the ranger said the penguins were already on their 
5th meal, so not very interested in eating any more!

They have 10 Little Penguins, 9 males and 1 female. The eldest was a 19 year old male who 

had mated with the only female for the past 10 years. Penguins mate for life, and until he 
dies they will be a couple. Apparently in the wild the Little Penguins will live for about 
14 years but in captivity they can live longer, and they are only about 30 to 40cm high.
While they were fed on tiny pilchards, the ranger was telling us the story that they wanted 
to train the penguins that were hand-reared to go out into the wild, but once they tried 
putting live fish in the tank and all except 2 penguins left the tank and looked through the 
glass from outside the pool, at the fish swimming around. The two inside were apparently 
being chased by the fish instead of the other way round!
So, the poor penguins would never survive at sea on their own, as they are too used to their 
regular feeds and contact with humans. 

With full bellies, now we can turn around and look at the visitors!

Wooden trail that goes around the island

The island can be accessed on foot from the mainland during low tide, but it´s 
recommended that when you return later in the day you take the ferry, 
as last year a couple of people died when walking across as they couldn't swim
and the current was too strong.

We just visited the Discovery centre and walked around the island this time,
but I would certainly love to go back, so next time I have overseas visitors I 
will certainly take them to the island and maybe do one of the longer cruises 
around the area.     

The island is small, with a 2km trail around the island and a lookout point 
in the middle of the island. Apart from the walk, there is a lovely picnic area, 
and you can swim, surf, snorkel, kayak or bird watch.

The island and surrounding Marine park is a haven for Pelicans and the very noisy
seagulls, sea lions, dolphins, stingrays and over 50 species of birds.
From the island you can do a 45min "Penguin and Sea lion cruise" on a glass
boat, that costs $34,50, or you can do a 90min "Shoalwater Safari cruise" costing
$85, visiting sea lions at Seal Island, the playful wild dolphins, stingrays and pelicans.

Don't you think Penguin island is such a cute island? 
Are there small and  interesting islands where you live?


  1. I really had no idea that Australia had so many surrounding islands! I just visited the Cape Town Aquarium and got to see some of our native penguins! I've always liked penguins ever since high school, our mascot was a penguin!

  2. Aren´t they just so cute! These ones especially being the tiniest ones, are just so sweet, I wish I could hold one!

  3. This looks like my kind of place! Are there some photographs missing? I can see several huge blanks!

  4. Can you believe I've never been to Penguin Island Sami, you've inspire me now..I'll have to get there before winter sets in! Gorgeous images and interesting facts.

  5. No Carole, I think it´s because of the photos being from my phone, that I can´t take those spaces, in fact when I go to the posting area, the spaces aren´t there at all! Can´t figure out what´s wrong!

    Hi Grace, I also just found out about the island last year, I can´t believe it, when I´ve been here for 5 years and have had lots of visitors who would have loved it!

  6. We moved from Adelaide to Mandurah in 2006. Before we came over i had a nightmare about a scary looking bridge that when up like an arc and in the dream Mat fell off it in his car. We spent a weekend in Rockingham and I nearly passed out when I saw that exact same bridge going over to Garden Island. Then I felt even worse when Mat told me he drove across it to work everyday.

    I was nervous for the 2 years we lived there! He never fell off btw....I am sure you worked that out though :)

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  8. Australia has so many islands surrounded nearby it. Here the pictures of penguin are quite interesting and thanks for sharing.
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  9. Sharon - what an awful dream to have and then find out your husband works just across the bridge! Did you ever get to visit Garden island?

  10. How wonderful. We only get to see penguins in zoos here, and no interesting little islands to report, here in the middle of France!

  11. Thanks for visiting Steph. France has no islands but has other charms for sure. I will eventually have half-french grandchildren as my daughter´s partner is French, and they live in Marseille, so I must start re-learning my school French...

  12. They are so cute!!! Adorava ve-los! Coisinhas tao fofas!!

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  14. I always love to visit different places and have visited many famous destinations. Your post was very useful as it brought so many wonderful islands to my notice. I will surely plan to visit one of them this year. Keep updating.
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