The St Kilda Pier has it all – a cafe, great views of the city, yachts, fishing, evening promenades, fashion, parachuting, Little Penguins and Rakalis.
People visiting Melbourne often have on their lists a visit to Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins at the Parade. A nice local secret is that there is a colony of Little Penguins at the breakwater on the St Kilda Pier (only a few kilometres from Melbourne CBD). One can get very close to a penguin (a few feet) and get great photos for free anytime of the day. Eggs are laid, chicks raised and fed, swims taken, adults moult and sunbake…all within easy reach (with a camera). The site is monitored by the local Rangers as well as the local fishermen who are very happy to point out the best spots to see them and to advise of the required etiquette when getting close to the Penguins.
A bonus at the site is the regular appearance of the Rakali. The fishermen tie up a fish with string and a little marine mammal pops out for a snack. It is the spitting image of the biggest rat you have ever seen and scares the tourists when one pops out of the rocks. But size, fur colour and webbed feet give away what it actually is…The water rat has been renamed the Rakali to remove the rat name association and I think it works well. We have Rakalis along the canal behind our house in Elwood (a nearby suburb) but have not seen one for quite a while. There are local volunteers who will sit for a few hours each evening and wait for Rakalis to move past and count and observe them for the local Eco teams.