|Subject: Re: Penguin Island, Perth, Western Australia|
Penguin Island definitely exists just 40 odd kilometres south west of Perth. It is a small sandstone and sand island just off the coast. The island is a sanctuary for birds and many nest there. Included are Little Penguins. These are the smallest of the penguin family and stand about 30cm tall (or short).
The island is only open to the public during daylight hours. There is a jetty (dock for north americans) and a ferry travels between the mainland and the island regularly during the summer months. Not too sure about the winter months, probably a little less often. You can also walk accross on a submerged sand bar, but I would not recommend it. The water gets about waist deep at lowest tide and people have drowned there fairly often after stepping off the bar and being swept away by the tide. I have never tried the walk but lots of people do it and I must say it doesn't look too dangerous.
On the island there are several beaches connected accross the island by two (short) pathways. There is a grassed picnic area with tables and built in benches. When lunching the local skinks (a type of lizzard about 40 cm long) come along and nibble at your toes. Also on the island is a small facility for looking after penguins that have been injured etc. The ferry fare includes access to this and there are regular feedings with a talk.
The island can easily be visited on day trip from Perth. Suggest you drive from hotel down the Kwinana Freeway to the end and then continue along Safety Bay Road. At every roundabout just take the straight on option and you can't miss it. You will come to the coast at Safety Bay and the road will follow the waterfront and where the road takes a sharp turn to the right Penguin Island is directly in front of you.
To return to Perth I suggest you drive from Penguin Island northwards along the same road along the beach. Just after a sharp righthand bend away from the beach is a road to your left. If you wish you may turn down there to go to Point Peron. This is a limstone cape (low). There are some pleasant walk paths there and we go there at least once a year for a walk. From there back along the road to Rockingham. You can drive along the waterfront. And thence by road northwards to Fremantle. Fremantle is the port city for Perth ( 20km inland on the Swan River), It is (according to some) the best preserved 19th century port city in the world. I don't kniow about that but it is true that there are lots of old (by our standards) buildings in the centre of the town. This is mainly because Fremantle missed out on development which resulted in many buildings in Perth being torn down to make way for modern highrise office blocks. You could spend the rest of the day in Fremantle and dine at one of the many smaller resturants. There are many different cuisines, such as Italian, Greek, Indian, Modern Australian, etc. Also several at the fishing boat harbour including a Japanese one.
Hope this is enough for now, I am still working on a more detaled reply to your personal email about the Margaret River area.
Greeting from Perth, Gerrit
PS as far as hotels in Perth are concerned maybe you could check out prices etc. on http://www.wotif.com.au