Next Time You're in ... Melbourne

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Destination Phillip Island

Small wonder Some 650,000 visitors a year watch the Penguin Parade

What's a trip to Australia without an encounter with its unique animals? If you're in Melbourne and have a hankering to get up close and personal with native wildlife — as well as enjoy some fabulous coastal views — make the two-hour drive southeast of the city to Phillip Island.

Begin your visit at the free-range Phillip Island Wildlife Park, situated at the heart of the island — and have your camera ready. Kangaroos, emus, koalas, cassowaries, echidnas and dozens of other indigenous species roam this 24-hectare facility, presenting photo ops galore.

Fifteen minutes away, on Summerland Beach in Phillip Island Nature Park, lies Penguin Parade, the main tourist draw. There, the aptly named Little Penguins (at around 30 cm tall, they are the world's smallest) emerge from the sea shortly after dusk each day and waddle their way to sand-dune burrows to the delight of onlookers. The species is found on the coast of New Zealand and southern Australia but gathers in its largest numbers on Phillip Island.

Viewing is controlled. Ticketing options allow you to watch from tiered seats or book a private beach with your own park ranger, who will tell you everything you need to know about the penguins. Want to do it in style? Then see the parade from a VIP "skybox" with canapés and drinks. Visit