St. Kilda Little Penguins - Latest Update About the Closure and New Fee in 2024
St. Kilda Little Penguins - Latest Update About the Closure and New Fee in 2024

St. Kilda Little Penguins - Latest Update About the Closure and New Fee in 2024


When Is the Best Time

The penguins at St Kilda pier are present year-round. St. Kilda is a suburb south of the city centre of Melbourne in Victoria. Most of the little blue or fairy penguins come from the sea after sunset. It's an awesome experience to watch the smallest penguin of all waddle in throughout the evening after foraging for fish at sea.

A blue penguin's face close between the rocks
Picture was taken with a zoom camera that the penguin does not get frightened. 

It is cute how they walk, jump to their burrows between the rocks, and make noise. To spot as many as possible, you need to visit at the right time of day and during the right season. Thanks to my Melburnian friend Rik, I spotted them several times. He always gives me tons of tips and advice—which is why I wrote this article and continuously update it. I want you to get the same insights for an unforgettable experience.

Two fairy penguins at St. Kilda hiding under the rocks
Penguins with their old plumage in November.

The best times to watch penguins in this unique onshore colony are during the main breeding and feeding season and the moulting season from October to April. Google Maps location entrance gate to the penguin pier.

Best Penguin Viewing Besides St. Kilda During the Closure

St. Kilda penguins on the rocks at the brakewater

I got tons of messages asking if there is any chance to see penguins at St. Kilda. If you wish to spot the little blue penguins before 2024, the best location is Phillip Island, where the little blue penguin population is hitting records. Last October, 5440 penguins were seen in one evening in just 50 minutes. Experts think the reason for these records is the food availability caused by "La Nina". Because of the wetter conditions, there are plenty of sardines and anchovies. It is an almost two hours drive south of St. Kilda or book a guided tour via GetYourGuide at no extra cost with the free cancellation options.

You will find more about the St. Kilda closure with new information below and other outstanding places close to Melbourne.

Time of Day | When to See the Penguins

The sunset at St. Kilda Pier
Already the sunset is worth to come to St. Kilda.

Every day after sunset, the penguins come ashore from the sea to their nests at St Kilda Breakwater. You can spot them waddling to their rock homes after sunset. 9-12 hours later, they get back to the sea before sunrise. The pier is open 24 hours. To spot them, be there any time after sunset. Check sunset (and sunrise times) here: Sunrise/Sunset Melbourne (select the month and then press 'Go').

Fairy penguin sitting on a rock
"Old" dark blue-grey plumage before the moulting season at the end of October.

The best daytime after sundown for sightings is usually about 30 minutes after sunset. However, remember that it gets crowded around sunset as everyone wants to see these cute guys.

View to St.Kilda Beach from the St. Kilda Cafe
A picture of the St Kilda penguins viewing platform was taken from a nearby cafe, Little Blue.

Update May 2024 - Closure of St. Kilda Pier and New Fee in 2024

Penguin viewing area closed with a gate at St. Kilda
The viewing area at St. Kilda is closed at least until mid-2024.

The construction work is in slow progress, and the curved pier structure is already visible. The good news is the penguin viewing area will be reopened this year. Although it is said to reopen in early 2024, I believe it'll be the end of 2024.

This is a new picture from my friend Rik, who lives nearby. The new St Kilda Pier is left and the old right. There is no public access to visit the kiosk/restaurant or the penguin area.However, you are able to see the entire construction from the Cantonese restaurant Mya Tiger upstairs at the Esplanade Hotel.

A zoom photo of the head of a fairy penguin.
The only alternative to see thousands of Fairy Penguins.

You can already see the entire construction from the shore. There will be a seating area to view the incoming penguins; restrooms will also be available. They are constructing a new viewing area made of hardwood timber from Queensland with elements similar to the 1853 pier to reflect the maritime heritage. Since spring 2021, there have been building works at St. Kilda Beach to extend and modernize the pier by about 450 meters, creating better access for ferry, kayak, and paddleboard activities. The new curved platform will lead above the sea and look like it is floating so that you can watch the penguins arriving from the sea and waddling to their burrows, but they get more space and protection, which is necessary. This construction is cost-intensive, and it looks like it is increasing monthly to $ 53 million. And now they are speaking about managed access and entrance fees.

St. Kilda Pier and view to St. Kilda and the sea.
You can not get further more - this is currently the end of St. Kilda Pier - Dec 05, 2023

The new St. Kilda Pier will run almost parallel to the existing pier. When completed, the old pier will be demolished. You can still walk down the old pier but not to the kiosk any longer and also not to the entrance to the penguins (around the back of the kiosk+restaurant). Currently, you cannot go there! 

Entrance Fee St. Kilda Penguins from 2024

A blue penguin hiding under rocks full of penguin poo
The penguin is hiding under the breakwater boulders.

Parks Victoria is considering charging an entrance fee to the St. Kilda penguin viewing platform after reopening in mid-2024. For many residents, the pier is an opportunity to get out of the city for a bit. The penguins are simply part of it; cutting off their rights outrages many. For sure, the visitor number will increase to the newly built pier in 2024.

Definitely this new curved pier will protect the penguins way better. It is unbelievable, but a penguin got attacked, thrown against a wall and killed by a group of young men at 2 a.m. at night on October 27, 2021. This is heartbreaking to kill one of those vulnerable birds. These beautiful birds were harmed frequently, but with the new pier, the burrows are no longer accessible to visitors. The most important is penguin conservation for the future.

My tips for a memorable visit: 

  1. Visit Twice: If your schedule allows, visit St Kilda twice: Once in the late afternoon and again at or after sunset. Especially in the summer, it's very likely to spot some penguins already in the late afternoon. Visiting before sundown has a huge advantage; you can view and photograph them during daylight. However, it's highly recommended to watch the big groups waddling in after sunset as well but never guaranteed.
  2. Visit at Night / Before Sunrise: If you want to experience a tranquil visit, we suggest two times: Around 11 p.m. or in the very early morning, two hours before sunrise. Particularly before sunrise, you won't see other groups of visitors and can check out the penguins in solitude. After 11 p.m., it's usually quiet as well, except for Friday or Saturday nights. The downside when visiting at night is the darkness. That means you'd need a very good (expensive) low-light camera and a fast lens for taking photos (using flash is not allowed, it hurts and scares the penguins!)
Information boards leading to the St. Kilda Pier
The path to the fairy penguins is well-marked.

​Top Alternative in Melbourne

A zoom picture showing the cute faces of the bats with open eyes.

Yarra Bend Park and this fascinating fruit bat colony are admission-free. Watch these cute guides hanging upside down in the trees and flying out at sunset. ​


Why Are Penguins at St. Kilda Pier?

The old St. Kilda Pier before the closure
The former viewing area which is being dismantled.

The rocky breakwater was built for the Olympic Games in 1956. In the 70s, the first Fairy Penguins were attracted for nesting in a safe environment at the St. Kilda breakwater, and more and more followed them. Now it is home to roughly 1.400 penguins, and the wild colony is still growing.

How Old Do the Blue Penguins Get?

The average lifespan is seven years, but it is slightly higher at St. Kilda. The colony is better protected at the breakwater, and the typical predators like seals and sharks do not occur here at the port. The other reason is the vast amount of small fish that they feed on.

My Top Tour Tips for Melbourne

View of the Melbourne City Center from the Shrine of Remembrance in the Royal Botanical Garden
View from the Shrine of Remembrance in the Royal Botanical Garden.

Melbourne is a fascinating city, the second most popular in Australia and worth spending a few days in. I like the vibrant city life, the parks, and the lovely residents. 



Penguin Seasons - When to Spot Many?

A curious blue penguin's face close with the zoom camera
A blue fairy penguin after moulting.
  • Penguins at St Kilda can be spotted throughout the year. However, there are significantly fewer penguins in the late spring and winter months of May, June and July. They are off on their winter jaunt when the weather gets colder in May/June. Most of the penguins are out at sea for a few weeks, feeding up with fish and getting ready for breeding later.
  • Depending on various factors, the colony at St Kilda starts to grow each year again in August/September.
  • Usually, you can spot plenty of penguins between October/November and March/April. Depending on the month, they build nests, lay eggs, and raise chicks or moulting (see below).
  • You'll also spot slightly fewer penguins during the moulting period, usually in January/February. They are out in the sea to gain weight for weeks. During the moulting season, penguins can't swim and stay on land.
  • If you are interested in seeing the little ones: The peak number of chicks is in November and December.

Penguins Cycle

Penguin with new blue shimmering plumage after moulting
Penguin with new blue shimmering plumage after moulting in autumn
  • Moulting
    It lasts for roughly three weeks. Some penguins are still out in the sea, some moult already. Old feathers fall out, and new plumage grows in shimmering blue. This usually happens between February and April. Penguins are sitting on a rock or in their burrow, not going to the sea. If penguins get white feathers, they will die soon; the reason is the stressful moulting.
  • Feeding Up 
    Most penguins are out at sea a couple of weeks between May and July to feed up before breeding in spring. They eat as much fish as possible to gain weight. It's believed that anchovies and pilchards are St Kilda penguins' favourite food. In case you wonder where they sleep during this time: Penguins can nap while they're in the water.
  • Nest Building, Egg Laying & Breeding
    Some start building their nests between the rocks already early in June or July. They lay eggs a month later, but most from August/September until November. If they lay their eggs too late, the chicks may not survive. When the penguins start moulting, they can't feed their chicks any longer.
  • Chick Raising
    After 33-37 days of breeding, the chicks are raised from the earliest in August until the latest in March, although February is already rare. The parent's main duty is hunting for fish and returning to their nest each day to feed the chicks. At 7-11 weeks, the chicks are ready to leave the colony and go to the sea. They are out in the sea minimum for a year, often several years, before heading back to the colony if they survive.

Top Guide

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My 4 Tips for Melbourne

Staying at a nearby hotel also means you avoid the traffic, which is horrible during rush hour. Parking fees around are pretty high.

  1. Stay Close to St. Kilda

    The Crest on Park Hotel in St.Kilda
    The Crest on Park in walking distance to the penguin colony at St. Kilda.
    I assume you are not only in Melbourne to spot the penguins. Therefore, spend a couple of days here within walking distance to the city centre and the penguins. I recommend at least three nights. We spotted just two when we visited Melbourne for the fourth time in September to show our nephew the penguins. They were hiding behind a rock. He missed this wonderful experience because we were leaving the next day. The Crest on Park is an excellent hotel. You only walk 10 minutes until you reach St. Kilda Pier. Also close to shops, restaurants and just 20 minutes from the city centre. Trams run right in front of the hotel. Everything is very modern and super clean (opened in 2016). The staff is extremely helpful, rooms and beds are very comfy, it's quiet, and parking in front of. Highly recommended! More hotels after my third tip.
  2. The Beach Boxes of Brighton Beach

    The bt2t Team at Brighton Beach Boxes in Melbourne
    Markus left, and our partner and friend Rik to the right at the Brighton Beach Boxes.
    Brighton Beach is a popular site for good reason. The picturesque bathing boxes and the beach are awesome spots to relax and enjoy the sea and the sunset.

    Everything you need to know in my Brighton Beach Boxes article.
  3. Cake Shops Acland Street

    One of the many cake shops on Acland Street.
    Great cake variety on Acland Street.
    Be close to the beach, lush parks, and gardens as well as the cake and restaurant paradise along with Fitzroy and Acland Streets. Hungry after watching the penguins coming home to their burrows? In walking distance, just 15 minutes – 1 km are several famous cake shops with a long tradition on Acland Street. (Google Maps Location) Opening times; are usually from 8 am to 10 pm. The more than 85 years old Monarch Cakes Shop makes a chocolate “Kugelhopf” with an old recipe dating back to the beginning. It is a popular cake from central Europe. Our favourite one is the apple crumble from Le Bon Cake Shop so far.
  4. Yarra Bend Flying Foxes Colony

    Two roosting flying foxes at Yarra

    There is a permanent colony of flying foxes nearby Melbourne, which grows to 50.000 bats in summer. They rest during the day and leave the tree for feeding at sunset. This is a spectacular event daily. More in my additional article about Yarra Bend and the fruit bats.
My Top Tip to Stay in the Heart of Melbourne

The ancient furniture in the Quest Grand Hotel
Quest Grand Hotel Melbourne (fairly close)
This is my top tip if you want to stay in the real heart of Melbourne. You could walk to St. Kilda, although this takes over an hour. With public transport in less than 30 minutes Google Maps.  Friends spent here an entire week. They told me the location can't be beaten! The accommodation is amazing, the staff accommodating and comfortable, spotless rooms. You can walk almost everywhere from here! It is Heritage listed and was formerly the Victorian Railways Administrative Office built-in 1893. In 1997 after a total renovation, it was transformed into the impressive 5-star Grand Hotel and Grand Central Apartments.

Which Camera Do I Use?

Most of my shots were taken with my Olympus OM-D EM 10 Mirrorless Micro-Four-Thirds camera. I love it so much because it’s not too big for my hands and I can carry it easily everywhere. The wonderful EVF is extremely bright and works perfect outdoors. I never go without my camera.

Micha take a shot from the dunes
Taking a shot with my OM-D EM10

I use a Mark II and Mark III but my next one will be the OM-D E-M5 because the body is splashproof, dustproof, and freezeproof and provides a better image stabilization. Especially during rain, in the rain forest or close to a waterfall it is sometimes impossible to use the camera. During our road Trip through Utah and Arizona I had issues with the strong wind and the sand. I had to cleaning my camera daily.

Olympus OM-D 10 camera and lenses on a table
Olympus OM-D E-M10 and my Panasonic Lenses

My day-to-day lens is a Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60 mm. The Micro-Four-Thirds Sensor makes it easy to use Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300 mm which is equal to a 200-600mm lens for an APS-C Camera for shooting long range.


Best Months to Visit


Location and Tips


St. Kilda breakwater became a Fairy Penguin colony in the 1970s. The rock breakwater was built for the Olympic Games in 1956. Now it is home to roughly 1.400 penguins, and the wild colony is still growing.

A group of penguins in the night
No flashlight just the streetlight above the penguins.

Most of the St. Kilda pier is fenced to protect the penguins; only a small part was accessible. Unfortunately, in March 2016, some were brutally attacked and left dead by young people. Volunteers and rangers are at St. Kilda each night to protect the penguins and to answer all visitor questions.

Protect the Penguins

St. Kilda penguin picture taken without flashlight in darkness with red light only
Picture was taken without a flashlight just a red torch.
  • No flash photography
  • No other flashlight, no smartphone light, red light only
  • No selfie sticks near the rocks
  • Do not get too close to, touch or feed the penguins
  • No yelling, music or loud noise
  • No dogs
  • No littering
  • No walking on the rocks

St Kilda Facts

St. Kilda Pier at sunset
St. Kilda Pier at sunset - the original kiosk was built in 1904 and rebuilt in 2006.
  • No entrance fee
  • Open 24 hours year-round. Stay as long as you like.
  • There are St Kilda Earthcare volunteers who will manage crowds and answer questions.
  • St Kilda is one of only two penguin colonies on our planet located on a human-made structure.
  • For the penguins, St Kilda breakwater is a substitute for an island, where they normally nest.
A donation box for the protection of the penguins
Donations are welcome for the voluntary work.

Earthcare of St Kilda was formed as a group of volunteers to protect this unique penguin colony. It would be a tremendous help to donate to the upkeep of the penguin team of St Kilda. The donation pole is on the left-hand side of the pier. It's opposite the far end of the kiosk.

The Former Viewing Area
You got easier close to the penguin on the former viewing platform
Also this palings weren't enough protection for the blue penguins.

Due to the repeated disturbance of the little penguins, the public viewing area was fenced since July 2017. You are still able to watch them, but please don't touch them, don't' try to put your camera into a burrow. Please let these penguins live in their natural habitat. If they get always disturbed, they will disappear one day.

8 Fairy Penguin Facts

Two little blue penguins in their burrow
New blue shimmering plumage in autumn
  1. Maximum size 40 cm and weight one kg.
  2. They live on average 6-7 years.
  3. Typically diving between 10-30 meters to catch small fish, squid, or krill.
  4. Some return year-round to their burrow, but most of them stay at sea in autumn and winter. 
  5. In the breeding season, the parents share the 33-37 days period of egg incubation.
  6. After hatching, the parents leave their chick unguarded to catch fish during the day.
  7. When the chicks are about 5 weeks old, they wait outside the burrow to get fed at night.
  8. Another 2-3 weeks later, they will leave the nest and their parents forever to move to the sea.


I took all these penguin pictures. I travelled to Melbourne and wrote this detailed guide for you and always put in new  information from my friend Rik who lives around the corner. So, please, if you wish to use any of my photos, contact me, but I will take action against picture theft! 

Why do I write this here? Hundreds of my pictures are used worldwide without any credit, nor did they get my permission. I don’t mind giving permission, but I want to get asked for it and to be mentioned. The world wide web changed a lot, and rewriting honest travel content is the new business for many fake travel websites. Do you wish to know more about this topic and how to unmask such websites quickly? Read my article “The Truth About Fake Travel Websites and Picture Theft.” 



I came to St.Kilda mid-September. Unfortunately, there were just two penguins hiding. It was cold and a little rainy that day.

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…