Penguin Island

30 min to 45 min

30 min to 1 h

1 km
return

↑ 6 m
↓ -6 m

Easy track
Starting from the Penguin Island Jetty off Arcadia Drive, Rockingham, this walk explores Penguin Island via the Penguin Island Boardwalk and Walk Trail. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and blessed with sparkling white sandy beaches, Penguin Island lies in the heart of the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park and is reachable by a short ferry ride from the mainland. When the ferry arrives, there is a boardwalk, short jetty and ramp to access the ferry, making it suitable for prams/strollers and fully wheelchair accessible. Home to a host of wildlife, including the world's smallest penguins, this island offers a plethora of activities that can take visitors closer to the marine animals. The natural resources of the area are important both educationally and scientifically, along with the wildlife. Penguin Island also has a fascinating history, and there are many plaques that give insight and facts into the history of the island and its inhabitants. Take your time to swim, snorkel, picnic and explore the nature trails and beaches before catching a return ferry at your leisure. It's also possible to walk to Penguin Island from the beach at Shoalwater Bay along the sandbar, although this is not recommended due to changing tide and ocean conditions. When making your way around the island, it's important to stay on the boardwalks or beaches to ensure that the vegetation, birds nests and penguin burrows are not disturbed. Penguin Island closes for the winter penguin nesting season, the day after the WA public holiday. Rockingham Wild Encounters --which offers guided walks-- is not affected by this closure. Let us begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we travel today, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.
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Safer Bushwalks
Tips on staying safe on track
Before you start any bushwalk ensure you;
• Tell someone you trust where you are going and what to do if you are overdue
• Have adequate equipment, supplies, skills & knowledge for the whole journey
• Consider the impact of weather forecasts, park/track closures & fire dangers
• Can respond to emergencies & call for help at any point
• Are healthy and fit enough for this journey
If not, change plans and stay safe. It is okay to delay and ask people for help.
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Getting There
Transport options and directions
Start (-32.3050902,115.6938082)
Mode Bus Car Ferry
DirectionsFrom Ennis Avenue, 1
  • Turn on to Rae Road then drive for 3.4 km
  • At roundabout, take exit 1 onto Rae Road and drive for another 670 m
  • At roundabout, take exit 2 onto Rae Road and drive for another 840 m
  • Turn left onto Safety Bay Road and drive for another 135 m
  • Turn right onto McLarty Road and drive for another 640 m
  • Turn left onto Arcadia Drive, 202 and drive for another 520 m
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Track Notes
Turn by turn instructions & maps
Getting started
From the jetty on Penguin Island, head along the said jetty as it veers right in the distance. Keep right as you pass by two buildings (to your left), then turn right to head towards the swimming beach through the picnic area. After you make your way back to the same track, turn right and pass by the toilets (to your left) shortly after to continue along the Penguin Island Track.....
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After 90 m find the "Tombolo" (60 m on your left).
Tombolo
Tombolo

The sandbar (or tombolo) that connects Penguin Island with the mainland was fully vegetated in 1837 when the area was first surveyed. It is hazardous to attempt to cross to and from the mainland via this sandbar. Please stay safe and wait for the ferry.
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The sandbar (or tombolo) that connects Penguin Island with the mainland was fully vegetated in 1837 when the area was first surveyed. It is hazardous to attempt to cross to and from the mainland via this sandbar. Please stay safe and wait for the ferry.

Veer right.
After another 10 m find the "Penguin Island Boardwalk" (on your right).
Penguin Island Boardwalk
Penguin Island Boardwalk

A network of timber boardwalks from the Penguin Island Jetty leads to the Discovery Centre and all the main points of interest around the island. The Department of Parks and Wildlife constructed these boardwalks around the island to protect the fragile environment, natural vegetation, and many birds' nests, including fairy penguins.
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A network of timber boardwalks from the Penguin Island Jetty leads to the Discovery Centre and all the main points of interest around the island. The Department of Parks and Wildlife constructed these boardwalks around the island to protect the fragile environment, natural vegetation, and many birds' nests, including fairy penguins.

After another 130 m find the "Western Mining Research and Management Centre" (10 m on your left).
Western Mining Research and Management Centre
Western Mining Research and Management Centre

A research and management centre on Penguin island, built with funding from WMC Resources Ltd, provides accommodation and facilities for researchers to study the area's wildlife and landforms. This region is quite significant for scientific research.
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A research and management centre on Penguin island, built with funding from WMC Resources Ltd, provides accommodation and facilities for researchers to study the area's wildlife and landforms. This region is quite significant for scientific research.

Continue straight.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. This side trip takes you to the swimming beach through the picnic area. To start this optional side trip veer right here. On returning from this side trip turn right when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 8 m veer left.
After another 10 m find the "Penguin Island Discovery Centre" (20 m on your left).
Penguin Island Discovery Centre
Penguin Island Discovery Centre

Visitors can see fairy penguins up close in an environment similar to their natural habitat and learn about their intriguing lifestyle. Penguin commentaries and feeding times are at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm during the island's open season. The glass walls of the pool provide unrestricted underwater views of these delightful birds, and the centre has information panels and touch-tables to help you plan your day and learn more about the history and inhabitants of the island.
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Visitors can see fairy penguins up close in an environment similar to their natural habitat and learn about their intriguing lifestyle. Penguin commentaries and feeding times are at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm during the island's open season. The glass walls of the pool provide unrestricted underwater views of these delightful birds, and the centre has information panels and touch-tables to help you plan your day and learn more about the history and inhabitants of the island.

After another 80 m pass the "Toilets" (10 m on your left).
Veer right.
After another 35 m veer right.
After another 50 m veer left.
After another 80 m find the "Caves - Penguin Island" (40 m on your right).
Caves - Penguin Island
Caves - Penguin Island

The caves that fringe the beach have an interesting history but should be admired from a distance, as they have a rockfall risk area and access to them is not permitted.
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The caves that fringe the beach have an interesting history but should be admired from a distance, as they have a rockfall risk area and access to them is not permitted.

Continue straight.
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. This side trip takes you to the Northern Lookout. To start this optional side trip veer right here. On returning from this side trip error >360 when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
After another 50 m continue straight.
After another 45 m come to "Western Beach - Penguin Island".
Western Beach - Penguin Island
Western Beach - Penguin Island

At the beach, you can see the limestone rocks that form the core of Penguin Island. This area offers good snorkelling and swimming opportunities in calm conditions. Beware of the ocean swells that hit the western side of the island.
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At the beach, you can see the limestone rocks that form the core of Penguin Island. This area offers good snorkelling and swimming opportunities in calm conditions. Beware of the ocean swells that hit the western side of the island.

Turn around here and retrace the main route for 510 m to get back to the start.

This side trip takes you to the swimming beach through the picnic area.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
Find the Picnic Area - Penguin Island at the start.
Picnic Area - Penguin Island
Picnic Area - Penguin Island

Located just in front of the Discovery Centre is a shady, grassed picnic area with tables and chairs overlooking the beach. Consider grabbing a bite here as it is a solid option for a stop. Unfortunately, you are unable to buy food or drinks on the island, so it's necessary to bring your own. Barbecues and kiosks are not present on the island. Also, cooking something with gas is forbidden. There are toilet facilities close by.
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Located just in front of the Discovery Centre is a shady, grassed picnic area with tables and chairs overlooking the beach. Consider grabbing a bite here as it is a solid option for a stop. Unfortunately, you are unable to buy food or drinks on the island, so it's necessary to bring your own. Barbecues and kiosks are not present on the island. Also, cooking something with gas is forbidden. There are toilet facilities close by.

After another 25 m come to "Swimming Beach - Penguin Island".
Swimming Beach - Penguin Island
Swimming Beach - Penguin Island

The safest swimming beach is located directly in front of the picnic area. It's shallow and protected from the sea breeze, making it a relatively safe place for children to snorkel under supervision.
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The safest swimming beach is located directly in front of the picnic area. It's shallow and protected from the sea breeze, making it a relatively safe place for children to snorkel under supervision.

The end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 35 m to the main route.

This side trip takes you to the Northern Lookout.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After another 45 m come to "Northern Lookout - Penguin Island".
Northern Lookout - Penguin Island
Northern Lookout - Penguin Island

From the lookout, you can clearly see Shag Rock and Seal Island behind it, which has a sandy beach used by Australian sea lions resting between their long fishing trips.
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From the lookout, you can clearly see Shag Rock and Seal Island behind it, which has a sandy beach used by Australian sea lions resting between their long fishing trips.

The end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 45 m to the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Penguin Island


Grading
Class 2/6
Easy track
Length 1 km
Time 30 min to 45 min
Quality of track Smooth and hardened path (1/6)
Gradient Gentle hills with occasional steps (2/6)
Signage Clearly signposted (1/6)
Infrastructure Generally useful facilities (such as fenced cliffs and seats) (2/6)
Experience Required No experience required (1/6)
Weather Weather generally has little impact on safety (1/6)

Some facilities on route
Toilet: There is one 310 m from the start.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Building
215 mWestern Mining Research and Management Centre
Building
225 mPenguin Island Discovery Centre
Toilet
310 mToilets
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