HEMA map reference 74/D2


Penguin Island


GPS 32 18 S 115 41 E





Toilets available Tables and / or seats and / or shelters provided Pets prohibited Swimming allowed Fishing allowed (some sites may require a freshwater license.) Sight seeing area Walk trails Phone access nearby Ranger or caretaker on site or visits Unpowered water craft allowed





This is one of the many small islands located just off the coast near Rockingham. It is a popular day trip with ferries running on the hour from 9am to 3pm.

The island is 12.5 ha in area and is just 600 metres off the mainland coast. There are reports that fig trees were planted on the island as early as 1901 but the first recorded resident was a Canadian named Seaforth McKenzie. He camped on Penguin and Garden Island from 1914 and settled permanently on Penguin Island in 1917.

McKenzie enlarged some of the caves on the island and brought visitors over from the mainland. In 1918 the island was declared a 'reserve for game' and McKenzie was granted an annual lease. This remained in place until 1935 when the island's administration was taken over by an appointed board.

During the Second World War a searchlight was placed on the island and after the end of hostilities the Rockingham Road Board took over administration. In 1949 the State Gardens Board took control and during the 1950s part of the island was again leased and some holiday huts were erected.

In 1957 administration fell to the National Parks Board and in 1966 the island was gazetted as an 'A class reserve'.

The leased part of the island passed through several hands and quite a lot of development was undertaken including bringing piped water and a phone line from the mainland. In 1987 CALM / DPaW took over the island and work was started to remove the old shacks and re-establish vegetation that had become degraded. In 1991 new toilets and a board walk were constructed and in 1993 the picnic area was expanded and a retaining wall built.

Finally in 1995 the island discovery centre was constructed. Through all these changes a colony of Little Penguins had existed on the island.

The Little Penguins are usually hidden away under rock ledges or in burrows but the discovery centre on the island allows visitors to get up close to these normally shy creatures.

From December to January the penguins moult and cannot enter the water to feed until they grow new plumage.

A sand bar connects the island to the mainland and many people wade across. This is not advised as several people have been swept away by strong tides.




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