Penguin Island to reopen to visitors next month after COVID-19 shutdown
WA families will have VIP access to pristine Penguin Island when it reopens to visitors next month.
With the hard border still in effect, locals won’t have to share the area with the thousands of interstate and international visitors who usually flock there — and the penguins are happy about the prospect of a fresh batch of visitors.
The general manager of Perth Wildlife Encounters, Chad D’Souza, said it was the “perfect time” to reopen after the island shut down in March.
“We have been waiting for the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to redo parts of the island so we previous to this have had to wait,” Mr D’Souza said.
He said the dolphins had especially missed the interaction with human visitors in their natural environment and the penguins and sea lions also missed showing off what they can do .
“It will be nice for them to have some fun and play for us again,” he said.
Mr D’Souza said the business had been “hit hard” by coronavirus and had relied on JobKeeper to get through the tough times.
“Recovery is going to be very slow so we need our community and WA to come back and support us,” he said.
“We are trying to allow our team to get back into it and enjoy what they do best with the marine environment and the animals’ behaviour.”
Mr D’Souza said he hoped West Australians, currently unable to travel interstate or internationally, would explore local destinations such as Penguin Island.
“We have so many guests from overseas that want to tick Penguin Island off their bucket list. We feel now, the locals, have these experiences for themselves,” he said.
“We love the Wander out Yonder campaign and encourage everyone to get behind it. We are the only marine sanctuary within a 30 minute drive from a capital city in Australia that offers wildlife like this.
“We are the only ones that can offer a wild swim with dolphins in WA.
“The experiences are very unique and because of this we have been inducted into the hall of fame for Tourism Australia.”
Encounters has developed a new 60-minute wildlife cruise, available to locals when the island reopens, which allows visitors to see sea lions, penguin feeding and dolphins within the natural marine sanctuary.
This also gives you a free ferry ride back to the mainland whenever you want so you can spend time to swim and snorkel and explore the island. The island also now offers a wild walk for those who want to learn more about the habitat and environment around the island.
The cafe and retail store is also open with limited hours, and will slowly get back up to pre-COVID levels.
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