A small coastal town on Bass Strait, Penguin is a centre for a pastoral, dairying and market gardening district Penguin has two strikingly interesting churches which make the beachfront area of the town quite exceptionally attractive. The Uniting Church is a beautiful old timber church with some particularly attractive decorative flourishes. It was completed in 1903 with some attractive woodworking flourishes. St Stephens Anglican Church was built on land given by Alexander Clerke in 1874. Its construction - a bluestone base and timber with a shingled roof and bellcote - is typical of the materials available in the local area at the time. It is a simple church which comprises of a nave, chancel and vestry.
Johnsons Beach lies just west of the Uniting Church. It is a popular place for walks at low tide as the reef is exposed and is well worth worth exploring.
Penguin is a great place for fishing; there are Trout in Penguin Creek and many different types of fish can be caught in the surrounding sea.
Visitor information Centre, 78 Main Road, Penguin. Ph (03) 6437 1421
Where Is it?: 124 km north west of Launceston, 29 km west of Devonport, 283 km north west of Hobart, 17 km east of Burnie between Burnie and Ulverstone off Bass Highway.
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Penguin is home to the Big Penguin (3.15 metres high) and all the bins in the town have cement penguins along the sides. Built and erected to commemorate the centenary of proclamation of the town of Penguin on 25th October 1875, the 'ferro cement' penguin stands three metres high. Today the Big Penguin is not alone, all the street rubbish bins in Penguin also have cement penguins along the sides.
A popular attraction are the fairy penguins which can be seen arriving each evening between November and March. Contact the local visitor information office on (03) 6437 1421 for details of where and how to see them. Hundreds of thousands of these fascinating creatures live in colonies on the remote islands off the Tasmanian coast. Only a small percentage of the Fairy Penguin population come ashore on mainland Tasmania.
Penguin miniature railway
Enjoy a ride on the miniature railway. Held 2nd and 4th Sundays each month at Johnsons Beach (off Main Road) from 11am to 3pm. Available for group bookings. Phone 6437 2786
Location: Johnsons Beach, Penguin.
Penguin History Group occupies two rooms at the Penguin Railway Station where local memorabilia such as historical photos are displayed each Wednesday between 10:00am and noon for tourists and locals to view. The Penguin Railway Station was built in 1901, when the rail line was extended from Ulverstone to Burnie, with the first train arriving at the Penguin Station on 15th April, 1901. In the early days crowds would fill the platform to watch while teams of horses and bullocks would arrive from the outlying rural areas to unload potatoes to be transported on the train. Passenger trains stopped running on 28th July, 1978, but freight continued to be transported by rail. When the Penguin Station closed the Tasmanian Government put it up for sale, and local businessman Ron Gee was keen to see history preserved and purchased the station. The building was cut in three and transported to his property in Penguin, where it was used as an amenities and storage building for his factory.
In 1997 the Penguin History Group relocated the building back to its original location with Mr Gee's assistance. The building is available as a meeting room, exhibition venue or wedding hire venue. The building has kitchen facilities available, toilets, and a spacious platform.
Located next to the railway station is the 'Old Penguin Gaol', circa 1902 1962. The smallest gaol in Tasmania, if not the whole of Australia, it was originally sited in Crescent Street behind the Courthouse (now the senior citizens club), and was built to hold prisoners awaiting transport by train from Penguin on their way to the Law Courts of Launceston. The old gaol was restored and re-sited in 1992 by the Penguin Apex Club.
The replica Dutch windmill in Hiscutt Park was presented to the people of Penguin as a Bicentennial Gift from the Dutch community to commemorate the Dutch settlers in Penguin and the Dutch explorers who were the first Europeans to make contact with Tasmania. The Mill is dedicated to the memory of Janneti Tjaers who was the wife of Abel Tasman. Location: Hiscutt Park, Crescent Street, Penguin.
In The Area
Along the coastal highway between Penguin and Burnie, you'll find the peaceful Preservation Bay. The drive along this coastal road alone is enough to impress, but the inviting waters at Preservation will make want to stop end enjoy this little corner of pradise. 10 minutes west of Penguin, and with a free area to park a caravan next to the Surf Club, you may just find yourself choosing to stay and enjoy the coastal scenes for a while. Next to the bay, at Preservation Point, there is a local surf spot that can be enjoyed if the swell and winds are right.
Ferndene Gorge Forest Reserve, like so many of Tasmania's national parks and reserves, is the perfect spot for a relaxing walk, taking in the sights and sounds of birds in the trees and the clear bush creek running by. From the well-equipped picnic area there is a short walk up along the stream through beautiful shady manferns and tall Eucalypt forest to an historic mining area and Thorsby s Tunnel, which is an old silver mine shaft. You will also pass Brownings Tunnel along the way; both are left over from bygone mining days. This is a very pleasant and easy walk, with just one gentle incline mid-way along the track.
There is plenty of parking, a well maintained toilet block, barbeque, outside picnic tables and under-cover picnic tables. It's a great spot for a picnic lunch or early morning breakfast while listening to the many bird calls that sound out around this forest reserve.
Location: Ironcliffe Rd, 6km south of Penguin.
Mt Dial summit
There are a number of excellent walks in the area including trails up the Dial Range to Mount Montgomery and, closer to the town, the Ferndale Bush Walk which includes Thorsby s Tunnel, an old silver mining shaft. It is possible to walk from here right through to Cradle Mountain, however this is serious trekking and not to be undertaken lightly. Details of all the walks are available from the Tourist Information Office opposite the Big Penguin.
Jasper occurs as small water-worn pebbles scattered along the foreshore from Tea Tree Point to Penguin Point. Fossickers may collect only loose jasper pebbles and must not damage the rock formations. It is a little known fact that the shoreline near Penguin was the site of Tasmania's first silver mine. Opened in 1850, the mine produced 157 ounces to the tonne. The ore also contained considerable amounts of copper, nickel, cobalt ,ead, arsenic, sulphur, manganese and some gold.
Leven Canyon (42 km south) has become a popular tourist destination offering interesting and pleasant bushwalks, good picnic and barbeque facilities and views down the 250 metre Leven Canyon. It is possible to walk through the gorge but allow a full day.
Dial Range is located to the south of Penguin township. The Range extends some 14 kms south to the Leven River at Gunns Plains and is about 4-5 kms wide between the hillfaces of Pine Road on the west through to the Leven River forming it's eastern boundary. The principal recreational activities making use of the walking tracks and trails found here include bushwalking, trail bike riding, horseriding, nature studies, running, mountain bike riding and exercising dogs. Fishing, canoeing and other water based activities occur along the Leven River. Designated areas have been set aside for clubs involved with motocross riding and field and game shooting. Sightseeing, picnicking and other recreational activities also occur within the Dial Range.
152 steep steps descend to the bottom of the cubic-basalt formed Dip Falls (40 km south). These falls are very picturesque, particularly during the winter months. The track to the accessible viewing platform is beyond the falls.
Gunns Plains Caves (23 km south) are opem for inspection daily and are well illuminated. The caves were discovered when a possum fell down the hole which was the cave entrance. The caves maintain a regular 11 degrees C all year round. The trip to the caves passes through some particularly beautiful scenery.
Between Penguin and Ulverstone are a group of small granite offshore islands known as The Three Sisters. Goat Island to their east is accessible at low tide -but be very careful not to get stranded. Because landings are difficult owing to the lack of beaches and safe anchoring points they are little affected by human visitation and disturbance, although Australian fur seals haul-out on the lowest of them. Goat Island houses a breeding colony of little penguins.
The island group has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because, with up to 400 breeding pairs, it supports over 1 percent of the world population of black-faced cormorants. Pacific gulls and sooty oystercatchers breed there every year in small numbers, and Caspian terns have nested there. White-bellied sea-eagles forage around the islands.