Location: Melbourne, Australia
Today was our first full day in Melbourne, but we didn’t spend much time here. Instead we went on a tour of Philip Island, which is something of a nature conservancy. Our tour departed the city and headed south east toward the island. Our first stop was the Warroock Cattle Farm for tea and to see some Australian animals. We were able to pet and feed kangaroos, and feed a wombat. We also saw a white peacock at the zoo.
Our next stop took us to a chocolate factory on Philip Island. A few dollars later and we were back on the road to the koala conservation centre. This was a very cool stop. The centre wasn’t so much a zoo as it was a boardwalk and gravel path trek into the bush. The koalas, wallabies and other creatures inside are wild and not tame. The koalas inside were very cute. Most were asleep, but luckily we saw a few awake and eating. We even saw a couple mothers with their joeys!
On the trail we saw a lot of wallabies. If you knew what to look for they were easier to spot than the koalas. They also seemed as curious to look at the humans and we were to look at them. Rachel got some great pictures.
After departing the koala centre we had dinner in Cowes. We both had flake and chips. Flake is the Aussie word for shark. It wasn’t bad, but not quite as good as fried cod. The servings were generous and the price surprisingly affordable. Next our tour took us to see some overlooks on the western side of the island. We had some great views and pictures here and more opportunities to see wallabies in their natural habitat.
Our lat stop was the penguin parade. Every night, thousands of penguins make shore on this part of the island and make their way back to their nests. This was the first time we would see penguins in the wild. The four-year-old in Ryan was very happy and Ryan was giddy. We weren’t allowed to take photos of any kind at the parade, because the flashes and lights would spook that already hyper-nervous penguins. So all we took were memories.
Two penguins chicks stand out in our minds. Just before sunset, two chicks left their burrows and were waiting eagerly for their parents to return. They were very impatient especially compared with the other chicks nearby. They had one of the closest nests to the shore, so we figured we could get to see a family reunion. After over an hour we saw thousands of penguins emerge from the sea, waddle across the sand, and climb up the steep hills to make it home. During this time, chicks from two nearby nest came out and eventually met their parents. We had to leave before we saw the reunion of the two eager chicks and their parents. We’re confident that they eventually met up though.
On our way back to the bus we saw hundreds of penguins also trekking inland toward their nests. We even saw a few in the parking lot, over a kilometer from the beach. This explains the sign below:
Tomorrow we explore the great Ocean road, seeing the Indian Ocean (or southern Ocean, depending on weather or not you’re wrong) for the first time. This will also be the most southerly we will go on our trip. Fear not, in 15 months, we will go in further south to Antarctica, but we’ll blog about that another time.
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