Best place for kids to see Tasmania’s Penguins

Everyone loves Penguins.

I remember visiting Victor Harbor as a child to see the penguins on Granite Island. Creeping quietly in the dark trying to catch a glimpse of these cute little animals returning to shore after a day out fishing.

Penguin watching is a great family activity that your kids will love. And Tasmania is one of the best places to see them.

Due to it proximity to Antarctica, clean oceans and abundant food sources, Tasmania has a healthy population of Eudyptula Minor, commonly known as Little Penguins. With an estimated 100,000 to 180,000+ breeding pairs calling this island their home.

While they can be found around much of Tasmania, we believe the town of Burnie in North West Tasmania to be the best place to see penguins with kids.

At first glance, Burnie doesn’t seem like the logical place for them to call home. It’s a busy seaside town with a huge industrial harbour complex accommodating large cruise and cargo ships.

It’s not the type of place you would typically expect penguins to raise their young. But they consider it home.

Tasmanian Penguins behind a fence
Only the boardwalk fence between us

Why Burnie?

We believe Burnie to be the best place for kids to see penguins for the following reasons.

  • Easy to reach location. Only a few minutes walk from the Burnie CBD.
  • Boardwalk along the foreshore allows easy access for kids of all ages.
  • The boardwalk is only metres away from ample car parking.
  • Artificial burrows have been placed along the foreshore to promote penguin nesting.
  • Some penguins nest right on the fence line of the boardwalk. Giving up close views of the penguins.
  • Penguin Observation Centre provides information and hide areas to observe the animals without disturbing them.
  • The Friends of Burnie Penguins volunteers provide an interpretative guided tour of the penguin colony. Tours start at the Penguin Observation Centre (Behind the Makers Workshop) at dusk and operate between October 1st to March 31st.
  • No expensive tour group fees. It’s free!
Penguin observation hide in Tasmania
Penguin observation hide

When to see Penguins?

Penguins come to Tasmania to breed and raise their young between the months of October to April.

The best time to see them is at dusk when the adults return from hunting to feed their young in the nests.

Penguins can often be found in and around bushes or the artificial burrows placed around the foreshore boardwalk. These are the best spots to find and observe them.

We recommend arriving around 2 hours before sunset to get the best views. This allows the best lighting to see and photograph the penguins arriving.

Tasmanian Penguins hiding inside a bush
Penguins hiding in the bushes

Penguin watching guidelines

  • No flash photography. Bright flashes can blind them for several hours and ruin their night vision.
  • Stay out of the breeding grounds to avoid collapsing or damaging burrows.
  • Keep off the beach. This can spook them and they won’t leave the water.
  • Don’t approach or touch them.
  • Avoid bright flashlights.
  • Subtle red lighting can be used or lighting covered with red cellophane. Most nocturnal animals cannot detect the red spectrum, so are unaffected by it.
  • Don’t point lighting directly at them.
  • Keep silent. We found we saw more of them when we distanced ourselves from the louder bigger groups of people.
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