My date with the penguins

Day two in Melbourne was spent on a tour to Philip Island. Philip Island is almost 90 miles off the coast of Australia, near Melbourne. It’s a tiny island at only 39 square miles, however, it has plenty to do! The most famous tourist attraction is the Penguin Parade! There’s also The Nobbies, a chocolate factory, several beautiful beaches and the Moto GP track! There’s probably lots of other things that I missed on my trip.

Sian at the penguin parade

Sian at the penguin parade

Our day started with a pick up from our bus and then a drive out of the city, towards the coast. It was really nice to drive through the suburbs of Melbourne and then towns slightly further afield. I felt like I saw a bit more of ‘real life’ Australia. All the scenery was beautiful, even though it was a bit rainy and miserable!

The first stop of the day was at Maru Koala & Animal park. It’s a bit in the middle of nowhere and seems to just cater to bus trips on the way to Philip Island. There was about 5 coaches full of tourists there during our visit so they must make a roaring trade! We got to see all the traditional Australian animals including koalas, kangaroos and Tasmanian Devils. One of the park’s selling points is their albino kangaroo. I decided to purchase a poncho for about $2 as the weather was looking dodgy and I hadn’t packed appropriately. All I had was my flimsy zip up hoodie and no umbrella! Where was the sunshine that Australia promises?

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The albino kangaroo

The albino kangaroo

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After another hour or so we crossed the 640m concrete bridge from San Remo to Newhaven and were finally on Philip Island. First stop was to the chocolate factory!

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Our tour guide drove us around various points of interest on Philip Island but as the weather was pretty cold and miserable, we didn’t stay anywhere long. At one point a few of us got off the bus to brave the wind (myself included) to try and take photos, only to retreat when a violent gust of wind turned the car park into a sandstorm!

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The Grand Prix track

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Scenery

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More scenery

One of the most impressive parts of Philip Island, for me, was The Nobbies. Once I got over my immature sense of humour, I was in awe of these two massive rocks in the ocean. Apparently, they are home to hundreds of seals but I couldn’t see any from where I was standing. The Nobbies are where Captain Wetherall erected a flagstaff in 1826 to mark the entrance to the harbour.

We followed the boardwalk to the end which takes you to Nobbies Blowhole. (Again, I found this hilarious. Yes, I am incredibly immature!) On the walk, there were lots of little wooden boxes dotted around. These are the penguin’s homes. On the photo below there was actually a penguin asleep in it but it didn’t show up.

As you may notice, I suddenly am wearing a fleece jacket. That was because it was so cold, I had to purchase a coat! Thank goodness there was a visitors centre that sold a selection of coats, jackets and hoodies! Perfect for the idiotic traveller who is unprepared! I was so thankful for that fleece! I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed the rest of the day, especially the penguin parade which happens after sunset. My advice to anyone visiting is DRESS WARM!

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With the new purple fleece! Weather ready!

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The Nobbies

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The penguin hut with sleeping penguin inside

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Nobbies blowhole

 

 

 

 

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As the sun began to sink, we (and hundreds of other tourists) made our way to the penguin parade. Unfortunately, you are not supposed to take photos as the flash on cameras can damage the penguin’s eyes. I respected this rule, but many didn’t. I did manage to get a photo of the site of the penguin parade from the cliffs above.

The penguin parade

The penguin parade

After sunset, hundreds of Fairy penguins wash up in the waves onto shore. Fairy penguins are the smallest breed of penguin and grow to an average of 13 inches tall! They have spent the day fishing out at sea and return in darkness for their safety. They like to stick together so usually arrive in groups. It’s really cute to watch as the waves roll in like normal then suddenly this group of tiny penguins will emerge and waddle in a line up the grass around the parade, into their wooden boxes. The whole show only lasts about half an hour and usually begins pretty much as soon as the sun has set. As you are walking back to the entrance, you can see many of the penguins waddling back up the hill so it’s as if you are walking side by side. Very cute!

Once everyone had made it through the hundreds of tourists and found the correct bus, we made our way back to Melbourne. The journey back was about 2 hours and I think I fell asleep for most of it!

All in all, it was a good day out. I enjoyed seeing another side to Melbourne and Australia. The scenery around Philip Island reminded me of places like Scotland and Wales, rather than what I would typically expect of Australia. I enjoyed seeing the animals but the piece de resistance was obviously the penguins! The only negative I have was not dressing appropriately! Silly me!

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