Prone to Wander

Koalas, Wallabies and Penguins… Oh My!

During our visit to Melbourne, Josh and I took a tour of nearby Phillip Island and its nature parks. It was a day completely filled with Australian wildlife, including being able to watch the very unique phenomenon of hundreds of little penguins come back from the sea at sunset to waddle over the beach to their nests on one of the island’s coasts. I’d definitely recommend this day-tour to anyone visiting Melbourne who is interested in seeing Australian animals in a more natural habitat. In fact I took so many amazing pictures that I had to choose which ones I wanted to post here. Below is a recap our journey with pictures, notes, and of course, funny comments where appropriate.

The first place we arrived was called Churchill Island farm, built by a Scottish family who settled there. The farm was complete with chickens, horses, sheep, working sheepdogs, Scottish ‘airy coos, and of course, wallabies. Wait, what? To be honest I’m not sure why this farm keeps wallabies, other than to please the tourists. And pleased we were. I got pictures of wallabies jumping, a wallaby with a little baby peeking out of its pouch (a rare picture to get, I’m told), and somewhat by accident, pictures of other wallaby activities which are too scandalous to post here on the blog (apparently, wallabies are a lot like rabbits in certain ways).

Working sheep dog demonstration:

See the little baby peeking out? Amazing!

Our next stop was at the koala conservation center on Phillip Island. Basically you could walk around among the Eucalyptus trees, and there were also areas with elevated boardwalks where you could get a little closer to the koalas in their natural habitat. I was lucky enough to get some absolutely incredible photos – I was in the right place at the right time as one of the koalas woke up from his nap, climbed in the tree and proceeded to stare right at me. All the other tourists were so jealous. 😉

And of course, no trip to see wildlife would be complete without a goofy photo (we happened to take several of those on this tour in fact – keep reading.) I can’t decide if this one is cute or creepy… but one thing’s for sure… it’s amazing.

Next stop, the nobbies, a beautiful spot on the coast of Phillip Island that is also home to a colony of seals. The seals actually live on a smaller island that you can see from the coast. Josh and I enjoyed our stroll along the sea, watching the water swirl and smash against the rocky cliffs. It was a beautiful day.

And finally, the grand finale to our tour: The Little Penguins. Every night at sunset, hundreds of little penguins can be seen coming up on the beach back to their burrows to their babies and their significant others. They come at sunset to avoid being seen by predators. We sat down on bleachers and waited for the penguins to emerge. The first few were tentative, took a few steps but then freaked out and jumped back into the waves. They travel in groups as well to avoid predators in the water. However, group by group we watched them appear out of the waves and start making the trek across the beach, sand and cliffs to their homes. I can’t imagine how exhausted I would feel after swimming all day in the ocean, and I couldn’t then imagine waddling a quarter of a mile on tiny little feet to my home. But, that’s a penguins life I guess. Somehow I think we might have it pretty easy.

One of the amazing things about it was that the penguins didn’t seem to care less that we were there, talking and pointing and following alongside them on the boardwalk near the beach. Business as usual, apparently. We couldn’t take photos because the flash could blind and kill the penguin as well as it’s family (who wouldn’t get any food if the mom or dad died). However, here’s one of their stock photos from the “penguin parade” as it’s called – they were pretty cute!

Earlier in the day at the nobbies, I saw a baby penguin in his nest, waiting on his parents to come home:

And finally, to complete our experience, a photo with a penguin and a pirate. I think the pirate had a crush on Josh – she looks much happier in her picture with Josh than with me (although I’ll admit she looks pretty annoyed in both). I also don’t know why the penguin is named Misty, but I think I’d like to find out.

The end.

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