After a busy morning doing some admin and sorting out the rest of our travel plans we made the most of our free ticket to Melbourne Aquarium. Definitely worth a visit but we are not sure if it worth the $38 to do so. The best bit was definitely the feeding of the turtles, rays and BIG fish. The divers got accosted by the cheeky little turtles and they were given, what looked to be, very loving hugs by the rays. For a moment we all wished we could be in there... then the sharks appeared and we had second thoughts.
Maz got very excited by the photos that we had taken on entering the aquarium and like any proper tourist bought them. Then got back to the hostel and realised she could get them free online. Best $25 she has spent so far.
The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island (9.2.11)
We were really looking forward to the opportunity to see some wildlife up close and not just any wildlife either. The world's smallest penguins! So, at 11:30am we waited patiently at the bus stop for our friendly tour guide to come and get us. Looks as though other people, however, have no idea what patience is.
They were not on time which sent a lot of people into a tiz. We hadn't even set off yet before two middle-aged couples were shouting at each other about seats on the bus. One couple ended up storming off the bus and refused to get back on until people moved and they were given the front seats. School trips are not this hard!
ANYWAY... after that mini scene from 'Coach Trip' was over we were on our merry way out of Melbourne.
First stop: 'Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park'. Once we managed to spot some Wallabies and Kangaroos we hand-fed them which was quite an experience. The Wallabies are cheeky little devils and once you have coaxed them out you can have three of four of them around you hopping up to get some seed action. The kangaroos were a little more relaxed and happy lounging around in tall grass whilst the Wallabies put on the show. We watched other people sling snakes around their necks. We gave that one a miss, they weren't really big enough...
We then drove onto and then off Phillip Island to get across to Churchill Island. It is a tiny island with an old working farm on it and we sat and watched some sheep shearing and whip cracking. We wondered around the old family home which is decorated and furnished as it would have been in the mid 1800s. For those of you who have watched 'Australia' it honestly feels like you are walking onto the set and into 'Mrs Boss' '' outback home. A little bit freaky. And lots of shells.
Third Stop: 'The Koala Conservation Centre' where we heard some mating cries, learnt that Koala's don't have sex but the males infact rape the females and a fun fact about the male genitalia which we will leave up to Google to explain.We played 'spot the Koala' which is not as easy as you think it might be, but we did spot a baby with its mummy which made the search worthwhile.
Along the coast we stopped at 'Cape Woolamai', one of Australia's most dangerous surf beaches. There were a few brave souls out there catching waves and showing off; a bit like Bournemouth beach but with real waves, real danger and real surfers... so nothing like it at all.
Pizza Stop. Tried an Aussie Pizza (ham and egg) - very nice!
Fifth Stop: Nobbies and Seal Rocks. It is an area surrounding an inactive volcano where seals and Great White's like to hang out. We saw a lot of seals but no Great Whites (Phew!) as well as our first glimpse of the 'Little Penguins' as they huddled together in pairs under the boardwalk waiting for their friends to come home from sea... which is where we went next. The Penguin Parade.
Summerland Beach provides the backdrop as hundreds of little penguins make their way across the beach and return to their sand dune burrows. They wait until night falls so as to avoid any predators and congregate out at sea calling to each other to try and get a good sized group together. Once there are enough of them they swim into shore and make the treacherous journey across the beach. They teased us for an hour or so, coming in a little way and then getting scared and waddling back out to sea. Then coming in a little further but then as soon as one chickens out they all run back into sea again. Some of them had also been out at sea for two weeks, eating as much as possible to then relax on land for 17 days as they moult and their new feather's come in. That meant that a couple of chubbies found it really hard to keep up with the rest of the group and were left huffing and puffing on the beach for a bit before getting scared and catching up again.
Throughout all of this we all sat huddled on the beach trying to keep as quiet and still as possible. That is until some very impatient Chinese tourists decided to run up and down the beach trying to spot them and stand/crouch in front of all of us. We honestly thought it was going to come to blows when a Canadian lady went up to two of them and pushed them into the sand to sit down as she couldn't see. Suffice it to say the little girl and her mother where not best pleased and walked off the beach not before telling the lady how crazy she was. Sort of ruined the moment for everyone there but heyho... the penguins were incredible!