Australia: Day 21 or Day 22? – 02.12.18………….Penguins on Parade!
It was raining when we awoke from our king size beds, full of enthusiasm to partake in our early morning yoga challenge! At least we had more room this morning albeit we did have to squint at Maice’s iphone to watch the video as we’d lost our internet connection. Fortunately Maice had downloaded all thirty challenges onto her phone just in case of this eventuality so we wouldn’t miss out on any challenge! Wonderful. So there we were, 7.30am trying to stand on one foot and being all contemplative! We got through it and got ourselves ready for breakfast. It was going to be a busy day today, our plans for today were; breakfast at 7.30am, well we’ve missed that, and out on the road by 8.30am. As we’re already behind schedule we decided to just ‘go with the flow’ instead and see what happened.
Considering we didn’t think breakfast was included it was an added bonus to be told on check-in that it was included so we made our way down to breakfast, hoping it would be better than yesterday’s Ibis Hotel. We weren’t disappointed. It was a super breakfast with everything you could think of on the menu, even freshly made cappuccino’s. Well that breakfast saved us at least $50!
We finally checked out at 10am, me behind Sheila’s wheels and Maice assisting SatNav Sheila. We’re very excited as we’re off to Phillip Island where we’ll get to see the little fairy penguins as they come onto land for the night. I must say, Maice’s navigational skills have certainly improved and together with SNS they guided me onto Phillip island and to our first stop, the Tourist Information office. Part of our tour package was a three-card pass, giving us access to a) the Koala Conservation Centre b) the Penguin Parade and c) the Heritage Centre on Churchill Island. TI were very helpful advising us to visit the Koala’s Sanctuary first then Churchill island second. The penguin parade wasn’t until the evening so off we went to the Koala Conservation Centre. We had to redeem our voucher for the pass and we asked if we could upgrade our Penguin Parade seats to a better viewing area. The assistant went through all the upgrades with us and when we went to pay for the upgrade he realised that we already had the ‘plus’ tickets......we really must read the small print! Great, with that sorted we ventured out into the woodland trails to go spot Koalas, exotic birds, wallabies, echinadas and other such wonderful creatures. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Koalas must be the most adorable animals on the planet. You really do just want to cuddle them, oh forgot, done that already. But, oh, they are just so gorgeous. They just sit there in the trees either fast asleep or munching gum leaves and even though they hardly move believe it or not they are fascinating to watch.
Walking around the nature trail we saw a wallaby, parrots and a ‘Superb Fairy Wren’ whose colours were exquisite. We wrenched our way away from the sanctuary and headed off to Churchill Island. Here was a Heritage Farm where you can interact with the animals, more for the kiddies really but the old house was interesting, the views were lovely and Maice did get to pat a pig!
Two down, one to go. We decided to make our way to our hotel, the Comfort Resort Kaloha in Cowes. We had to switch SatNav Sheila off as she kept taking us the wrong way so SatNav Maice guided us using the instructions given in the tour book. Well, we got here without any deviation, reversing or backtracking, well done SatNav Maice! The reception guy was really friendly giving us advice on what to do and where to go for breakfast, suggesting the Mad Cow cafe.....! We left reception then went straight back to collect the key which neither of us profess to picking up only to be told that I’d got them. So rummaging through backpacks I found them in my pocket and we went to our room. We checked in and checked out of it immediately going straight back to reception. We’d been given a double room again so he changed us immediately and what a bonus, we’ve got a double bed and two singles, lots of space for yoga and it’s on the ground floor so we don’t have to lug our cases up any steps. I must say it was a tad cold indoors, mind you it was a tad cold outdoors too. Yesterday we were enjoying 30 degree heat, today it was just 17! Maice is certainly getting her money’s worth from her new sweatshirt.
We offloaded our many bags, now that we have a car we keep accumulating them, and went to do a reccie of the resort and to find the famous Mad Cow cafe. It was a bracing walk along the esplanade, too windy for a hat so our hair looked like rats tails as we battled against the wind. It was so quiet and not many of the shops were open, then we realised it was Sunday. We didn’t find the Mad Cow cafe but we did find Aldi’s and it was open so we bought some cheese and rolls to eat when we got back as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and we needed to eat before going off to see the penguins.
Fed and watered, we layered up, donned our kabooms and set off to The Nobbies. Situated approximately three kilometres from ‘penguin parade’ at the western part of the island The Nobbies is a spectacular set of rock islands and rugged cliffs home to a colony of fur seals which can only be seen by boat. The weather was wild and windy and the sea and waves came crashing onto the rocks in spectacular form.
The walk, along the boardwalk took us past some penguin burrows and we were fortunate to see some chicks inside. These are the only photos we’ve got as you’re not allowed photography of any kind during the ‘Penguin Parade’.
From here we made our way to the Penguin Parade Centre which is very commercialised, but all proceeds are ploughed back into the conservation of the area. The penguins don’t come ashore until 8.30pm ish and we sat down at 7.15pm, outdoors, in the cold, on hard wooden seats, but at least we had front row seats and the penguins would be walking past us within touching distance. We sat and froze as we waited, both wearing sandals. We were going to change into our shoes which we kept in the car, but in our excitement we completely forgot. Maice’s head cold was starting to come out so not only does she have blisters and cold feet, she now has a ‘Rudolph’ nose. Well I suppose she’s embracing the festive spirit. The rangers spoke to us about the ‘do’s and dont’s’ when the penguins arrive, mainly don’t’s. Don’t stand, don’t shout, don’t talk loudly and don’t use your camera, with or without flash. These little fellas have to run the gauntlet of getting to their burrows, past a crowd of humans and birds of prey looking for a tasty morsel. We waited, and waited and then six of them turned up out of the sea and started waddling past us. No kidding, it was like a scene from the Minions, there were lots of oooohhs and aaahhhhs from the captive audience, omg, these penguins are on a par with the Koala. They are just the most cutest things you have ever seen and they look so vulnerable. You just want to scoop them up and take them to their burrows to save their little legs. And then the rest of the penguins came waddling behind, hundreds of them. Honestly it was like being part of a David Attenborough documentary, we half expected to see him or hear his dulcet tones....“here on the beach, the smallest penguins on earth make their way to their nests to feed their young. It’s a perilous walk, birds of prey circle overhead and thousands of human eyes are watching their every step. For these little fellas, danger is all around them”. Of the seventeen types of penguin in the world these little penguins, also known as Fairy Penguins are the smallest in the world. We have no photos of them on parade so you’ll just have to Google Phillip Island penguins for more information.
Having watched them for fifty minutes or so we drove back, heating on full blast to defrost our frozen bodies and frozen feet, got back to the hotel at 10.30pm, our latest night so far and poured ourselves a large glass of wine. It had been a long day and we deserved it. And so to bed. Our beds were beckoning, out came the blankets and in we got. Two bugs, snug in a rug.....so to speak.