No Flash Photography Allowed!

Slightly obsessed with penguins and toying with the idea of leaving Melbourne, I decided that Philip Island's penguin parade should be the next achievement on my Australia bucket list. Opting for a backpacker oriented tour to hopefully meet a younger clientele than the last tour I undertook, picked up first, I was somewhat surprised at stop 2, when a seemingly unending line of people streamed onto the bus. A family group of about 10, kids and granny in tow, I think they had all but the kitchen sink… The bus giving the impression of being full, fearing I was going to have a lonely day, the minibus appeared to turn into an amazing Mary Poppins bus! Stopping every couple of minutes, I didn't know where Simon, our guide, was putting them!! Picking up another 10 odd people of somewhat a 'backpacker' appearance, relieved, I relaxed and took in the streets of Melbourne.

A drive through Cranbourne, them lunch in Tooradin, Simon provided some very useful Australia facts. Stories were shared about a boat getting stuck near mudflats after a king tide and of a hurdy gurdy creek! This so named because a circus carrying a carousel crashed into it (apparently in ye olden days carousels were called hurdy gurdy's!!). Onto Maru animal park, I saw much the same that had been on view previously at Lone Pine koala sanctuary, though there was no offer of koala cuddles. Befriending a French girl called Marian, we did a good job of reciprocating picture opportunities. Paying $2 to feed the kangaroos, which I enjoyed, I couldn't help but think about the welfare implications of them being fed so many pots of animal feed every day…

Finally onto the last stretch of road to Philip island, we hit traffic! It being Good Friday, I realised everybody shared my Philip Island plan… Crossing the bridge onto the island and finding Woolami beach, it was amazing to feel the wind and be near the sea, and it had an instant calming effect on me. The sun out, a beautiful blue sky overhead with some fluffy white clouds in the sky, it was nice to be exploring a new place.

Passing the motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, the island green, with an avenue of trees cutting its way through, you instantly forgot you were on an island when you drove away from the beach. Onto the so named nobbies, which were round rocks jutting out of the ocean, the south coast of the island was pretty impressive.

After a pizza dinner in the town of Cowes, we drove with the masses to the penguin viewing point. The island's penguin inhabitants being aptly named little penguins, we were told they are the smallest penguins in the world with a life span of 8-11 years. Told that 542 penguins surfaced from the water the night before at 19.42 we headed down to the tiered seating on the beach. Grabbing some of the last seats at 19.20, there had to have been nearly 1000 people there… A no camera policy in operation, I wish I could show you what this looked like! We patiently waited, and waited, and waited and then 10 penguins popped out at nearly 20.20. It nearly dark, cue everyone, who had been told to remain seated, standing up and rushing over to see them. The next batch of penguins to leave the water did so pretty far away from where everyone was sitting, surprisingly enough, this resulted in a mass exodus from the seats to the boardwalk to view the cute little things waddling underneath. So many people and so much noise, people talking, babies crying, people using their phones when they had been told not to, not a lot of penguins were seen! The ones that I did were undoubtedly cute though. The visitor centre brimming, I truly witnessed mass tourism this evening. The poor little penguins. Leaving the centre, a bit disappointed, I decided that I definitely want to go volunteer somewhere and be able to see them in a more secluded viewing spot…

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