Did you know you can spot penguins and possums right in the city of Melbourne, without traveling long distances for that? We will show you some Melbourne penguins on the pier and afterwards possums in a park.
There is a colony of Little Penguins living at the end of St Kilda Pier and to see them you should go there at dusk.
After watching those little cuties return from the sea we will get back to the city centre and wait until it’s dark enough to see possums.
A little Melbourne penguin, St Kilda, Victoria
Melbourne Penguins and Possums Tour Map
The penguins are at the St Kilda Breakwater in the south and the possums in Fitzroy Garden in the north.
We marked a walk between them on the map, however you can also use the tram for the long distances.
Melbourne penguins and possums walking map
We started our Melbourne penguin walk at Federation Square from where we followed the Yarra to the Botanic Gardens that is a great nature destination as well.
From the Botanic Gardens we took a tram to St Kilda and another one back to the city to see the possums.
So the tour begins with the Yarra River:
The Yarra River
The Yarra is the big river that flows through Melbourne. Its many bridges offer great views of the Central Business District and the Southbank on the other side. Maybe in the evening you will get the best views.
From Yarra bridges you can clearly see the large green sports areas east of the CBD, and then there is Birrarung Marr, the park from where rowboats and canoes set off to the river.
The Yarra River, Melbourne penguin walk
Yarra banks are a favourite area of joggers and bikers and it looks like almost everybody in Melbourne is running here after work. No wonder they all come here, the scenery is great and walking tracks good.
For many Melbourne people jogging right in the city centre means a high quality of life. And so does rowing on the river.
Read more about the Yarra River in this post: Yarra River Walk through Central Melbourne
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
Beautiful Melbourne nature in the Royal Botanic Gardens
On the way to St Kilda, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Kings Domain make a large public park and a kind of green oasis, located between St Kilda Road and the Yarra River.
Walk along the paths of the Botanic Gardens and you can see beautiful plants from all over the world, not to mention their small rainforest and area of Australian desert plants.
Our other post about the Yarra River also contains the Botanic Gardens of Melbourne, so for information about the garden check out the post Yarra River Walk through Central Melbourne.
From the Botanic Gardens it might be wise to take a tram to St Kilda, to get there in time to see the famous St Kilda penguins.
On the way to St Kilda you will pass Albert Park, the scene of the yearly Australian Grand Prix.
Melbourne Penguins: St Kilda
The bayside suburb of St Kilda is situated in one of the most picturesque points of the bay only less than 10 kilometres from Central Melbourne.
St Kilda pier, home of the Melbourne penguins
The suburb has a seaside-resort atmosphere with fine sandy beaches and a beach promenade. Like in all seaside resorts St Kilda has a large number of restaurants, bars and shops.
Read about St Kilda: St Kilda, Destinations, Melbourne
Now the penguins:
Meeting the Melbourne Penguins
So the rocks at the end of St Kilda pier are home of a colony of over 1000 Little Penguins.
The penguins build their homes underneath or between the rocks where they get protection from weather.
The little Melbourne penguins spend most of their time on the breakwater or diving in the nearby waters.
A Little Penguin at the end of St Kilda Pier
When the dusk comes you can see them coming back from the sea and waddling back to their nests. They are so nice to look at but you don’t see such numbers of them as on a Phillip Island tour.
A Melbourne penguin on the rocks
There may be volunteers telling about the life of the penguins and helping visitors see them in the darkness.
The volunteers also help you get photos in the darkness without a flash. They cast red light towards the penguins so you can capture them with your camera.
A Little Penguin in red light, St Kilda Pier, Melbourne
Another penguind waddling to the sea
Why do they have that red light? Penguins can see different shades of green which colour they need to find their food in the sea. But their eyes don’t see red so the red light doesn’t bother them. And any flash lights would make them very nervous.
In addition to penguins you can see water rats swimming around the St Kilda breakwater. The best time to spot a water rat is the sunset.
So now we saw the little Melbourne penguins and then the possums:
Federation Square in Evening Light
On our way back from St Kilda we changed trams at Federation Square. Different shades of red light like on St Kilda pier, but absolutely no penguins here.
Federation Square is a good example of Melbourne urban nature and the square looks great at all times.
Federation Square in evening light, Melbourne
Fitzroy Gardens Possums
Then, the last stop on our Melbourne tour is Fitzroy Gardens and its possums.
A Fitzroy Garden possum, another highlight of our Melbourne self-guided tour
Like kangaroos possums are marsupials, so the females have pouches in which the young grow.
By day you don’t see possums at all since they sleep the days in tree hollows, but at night they become active.
You can see possums in Australian parks and gardens. Often when walking through Fitzroy Gardens at night we felt like someone was staring at us. Looking up we saw possums here and there in the trees, looking at us with their big round eyes:
A possum looks a bit like a kangaroo
All possums first looked so curious about us and then came closer so we could talk to them. So we also got some nice photos of the Fitzroy Garden possums.
One more possum in the tree
Sometimes they very much look like small kangaroos, and from other angles they more look like squirrels or monkeys. Silly, funny animals that we don’t have in Europe.
We really liked looking at these possums and as long we stayed in Melbourne we sometimes came to the park at nights. And we also went to St Kilda and met the little Melbourne penguins living at the end of the pier.
More about Australian Wildlife
- If you want to see more penguins, travel to Phillip Island: Phillip Island Self Drive Trip from Melbourne
- On the Great Ocean Road you can see kangaroos and koalas if you know where to find them: Great Ocean Road Self Drive Trip
- Healesville Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley is a great place to meet native Australian wildlife: Melbourne: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Drive
More about Melbourne
- If you want to know about Melbourne sights read this: Sightseeing in Melbourne: Circle Tram and Tourist Bus
- Read about the Melbourne winter: Yarra River walk through Central Melbourne
- A big event in Melbourne is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix held each the autumn.
- How does it feel to return to Melbourne from Europe and start living there for work? Settling in Melbourne for Work and Living
Driving from Melbourne to Sydney
- We also have written about the drive from Melbourne to Sydney along the coast. The journey begins here: Melbourne to Sydney: to Wilsons Promontory