Phillip Island - Southern Australia - 31.10.2008

......So we got to Chaper 3 of the Melbourne adventure.

......It is 140 km south-east of Melbourne.
......George Bass first discovered Phillip Island when he entered Westernport Bay in January of 1798. However long before this it had for thousands of years been part of the lands visited by the Bunurong people, the coastal to inland indigenous people of Australia.
......Bass returned with Matthew Flinders later in 1798, landing at Rhyll on Phillip Island.
......In the early 1800's it received its current name of Phillip Island after the then colonial Governor. However it wasn't until the 1840's that the McHaffie family, the first permanent settlers, took up residence with a pastoral lease that covered the entire island.
......By the 1870's more than a 160 settlers were calling Phillip Island home. 130 years later and the population is now approximately 7500 permanent residents. Phillip Island grown and prospered in the 200 years since it was first discovered by Europeans.
......The Little Penguins who are native to Phillip Island were soon also bringing in many thousands of tourists to watch their nightly return from the sea.
......It became the home of the Australian Grand Prix for cars in 1928 and later the place where the Armstrong 500, the forerunner to the Bathurst 1000 would be held.
......To protect and promote the Island's natural wonders and wildlife, the Phillip Island Nature Park was formed in the late 1990's, combining the resources and management of the Penguin Parade, the Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island and many other significant eco-tourist and conservation locations. (
......We booked the tour again with Go West. And to our pleasant surprise, the driver/guide was Pete. We left Melbourne at about 11am. He picked up first from our hostel and then everybody else.
......The main purpose fo the trip was to see the march of the little blue penguins from the ocean to their nests (about 8:30pm at the end of October). This happens every evening, once the sun set, thorugh out the year. During the Winter there are not so many coming. about 300-400 every day. But starting Spring the number increases. There were abou 1000 when we got there and we were told that during Summer there are about 2500 every day.
.....There were five stops on the way to the bay.

.....The first one was at the Gurdies Winery. One of the largest there, as we were told. A very nice lady told us the story of the place, talked a little bit about wine and invited us to taste. This place reminded me somehow of Tuscany.

It was Spring so there weren't any grapes yet. But the winery was very well taken care of

.....An old grape crusher......Some nice flowers
......This was the second stop. A mini zoo. Kangaroos, two koalas, 3 Tasmanian Devils, some emus. It was the first time I got to touch a kangaroo. They're funny and always hungry. Imagine that there are tourists there all day long. And each tourist give them something to eat in order to take good pictures.
......This is a wombat. It lives only in Australia. Somehow is a huge rat.... or a small pig. The fur is coarse and it smells bad. But baby wombats are really nice and playfull.
The Tasmanian Devils. They are small but the teeth are sharp. If you see one outside the cage don't try to pet it. Run!
...... The little one in the picture is a wallaby. It looks like a kangaroo but it's smaller.

...... And a sleeping koala. They usually sleep 20 hours a day. No touching. It's against the law.
......Proudly introducing.. Mr. Kangaroo
......An albino one.

......Third stop: a very beautiful beach. In the Summer it's full of tourists, mainly surfers. Not it was entirely mine.

......We stopped for lunch in a small resort (the fourth stop). By the way, the Australian time for lunch is between 12:30pm and 1:30pm. I'm never hungry at that hour. Our lunch is at 14:00 - 16:00. As it was the only occasion to have something to eat, we looked for something... eatable. There everybody was having seafood (which I hate). I found a small Greek restaurant and we had pork and Greek potatoes (baked with cheese).
......Another difference between Europe and Australia is that in Australia only a few restaurants are licenced to sell alchool. If you want a beer you have to go to a liquor store. There are two types of licences for restaurants. They can either be licenced to sell alchool to clients or be licenced to allowe clinets to bring liquor from outside and drink at the lunch/dinner. The owner of the restaurant we got in told us we're allowed to bring beer and even told me where to go to buy from. That's how we managed to have a very enjoyable lunch.

.....The fifth and last stop was on a cliff. Pete said that if you look carefully we can spot the blue penguins in the grass. Or even seals on the rocks. No seals but a lot of penguins. I took some pictures knowing that in the evening, at the march of the penguins, we won't be allowed to use the cameras at all.

......Normally there should follow some pictures taken in the evening, with the blue penguins. It wasn't possible doing that. Those who took care of them told us that we should not interfere with their way of living. We just stood there quietly and watched them coming from the ocean.
......First there were about 10. then another group of abou 20. And others followed. 50, 100, even larger groups of 200 or more as we were told. They weren't just crossing. For them it's a real adventure to get from the water to the hills. It's dangerous because the enemies are up in the sky, waiting for one of them to get lost from the group. That's why they only march in groups, from rock to rock.. the walk and wait... walk again and then again wait to everybody to come. Again and again till they feel safe on the hill.
......Only after one group reaches the hill the next one starts crossing the beach. And all the time they talk to eachother. Some acute sounds, fast or slow, like children songs.
......For tourists there was a wooden foot path built. So after seeing them getting out of the ocean you can follow the penguins along the beach, hill and bushes till they get to the nests. Without getting in direct contact with them.
......All this marching lasted for about 1 hour. It was very cold. At 9:30pm we got back on the bus and went back to Melbourne.

......It was another perfect day. We were again tired, but happy. The next day we had a morning flight to Auckland, New Zeeland. You'll find the story in "New Zeeland" section.

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