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Everything you need to know about Granite Island’s little penguins

Now’s the time to visit SA’s Granite Island to see the newest flock of little penguins. Here are all the details.

Looking for a family-friendly activity for the weekend? Look no further than Granite Island, off the coast of Victor Harbor on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.

Not only can you walk around the island and take in the sights and sounds of Granite Island Recreation Park, but if you’re into wildlife you’ll be pleased to know the island is home to one of the state’s most adorable birds – the little penguin.

(Image courtesy of Dr Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Flinders University)  

This time of year is little penguin breeding season. While in years gone by the number of wild little penguins living off Granite Island had dropped significantly, after successful management of their predators and revegetation of their habitat they are making a comeback, albeit a slow one.

This year 10 little penguins have been born on Granite Island so far, adding to the 44 adults on the island.

Best time to visit 

Little penguins generally spend the day out in the ocean and the night in their nests, so the best time to see them is at dusk when they return from their adventures out at sea to have a snooze in their burrows. 

Access to the island at this time is only available through a guided tour, so book a spot to catch a view of the penguins hurrying home. 

Did you know?

Before you head off, brush up on your knowledge of these adorable little birds in tuxedos. Here are 8 fun facts:

  • The little penguin is smallest species of penguin in the world, only just bigger than your average school ruler (33 centimetres tall) and weighing a tiny 1 kilogram.
  • The little penguin is the only penguin to breed in Australia.
  • Little penguins are found only in Australia and New Zealand.
  • The average lifespan of a little penguin is about seven years.
  • Little penguins consume about their body weight in fish every day.
  • There are about 10,000 feathers on a little penguin, plenty of insulation to keep them warm in the cold waters.
  • Little penguins sleep for only about four minutes at a time, either standing up or lying down.
  • Granite Island’s little penguins usually feed on fish within 15km of the island, however they have been known to venture up to 200km away.

Top tip: When visiting the penguins be sure to keep your distance from them and their burrows – little penguins are sensitive souls, even the slightest change of scent to their surroundings has been known to change the way they behave and cause them to abandon their burrows and breeding activities entirely.

Want to make a day of it?

While you’re on Granite Island be sure to check out the new sculpture trail. The 2.4-kilometre trail takes about 45 minutes to walk, and is accessible for prams and assisted wheelchairs. There’s 13 magnificent sculptures to see, so make sure you bring your camera.

'Adam and Eve' by Peter Lundberg

Love South Australia’s wildlife? You might be interested to learn the difference between our koalas and those in other states, or learn some interesting facts about the humble wombat.

(Main image courtesy of JJ Harrison in line with Creative Commons licensing)


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