One of the few touristy things that I did while in Melbourne was a trip out to Philip Island to see the Penguin Parade. I took a half day tour with Bunyip Tours and was picked up by a shuttle bus at 12noon near my hostel in the city.
|The view from the winery|
|My new friend!|
Our first stop was a winery for a wine tasting. I didn’t partake as I don’t like wine and didn’t want to offend the vineyard owners by making faces and spitting it out! So instead, I enjoyed the view and played with their lovely lab who rolled over while I was stroking her back so I could scratch her tummy. Next we were taken to Maru Koala and Wildlife Park, which is home to various Australian wildlife including koalas, emu, Tasmanian devils, and kangaroos. I chose to have a photo taken while feeding a big koala! This was actually quite nerve racking as we’d been told that this was not the same species of koala that you see being cuddled in Queensland but one that bites! Next we went to feed the wallabies and kangaroos. The wallabies are simply adorable and really gentle. However, the kangaroos are much bigger and a bit scary. I fed one then chickened out and tipped the rest of the food on the floor.
|Harriet the baby wallaby – love her!|
|A very mean looking emu|
|Someone braver than I feeding a kangaroo|
After the wildlife park we crossed over the bridge on to Philip Island itself where our first pit stop was Cape Woolamai beach. It was a bit chilly but I’m never one to miss an opportunity to get sand between my toes. I walked along the beach with my shoes off but I was still wearing my jumper and jacket! The sky was blue at that time, as it had been raining on and off all day, but the wind was cold.
|Cape Woolamai surf beach – check out the waves!|
A pizza dinner was included in the tour price and so I enjoyed that before going to see the Nobbies rocks and attempt to penguin spot and nab some photos as cameras are banned at the actual Penguin Parade. I saw three and took all their photos! They are so cute and tiny, little penguins. To encourage the penguins to nest and create safe houses the park rangers have made some little penguin log cabins. These in themselves are unbelievably cute, even without a penguin in! I saw one that had “Home Sweet Home” inscribed above the door.
|A shy little penguin|
|The Nobbies just before sunset|
|Little blurry as I was zoomed in so far in poor light but worth it to capture this little fella I think|
At sunset we moved on to the visitor attraction and I was taken off to one side as I paid for the Private Experience. It was an extra $40 but meant that I got VIP treatment. For the additional money I received a pair of binoculars, a foam seat and a headset so I could listen to what the ranger had to say and a hot drink to warm me up at the end of the night. There were 5 of us in the group and we had a ranger to ourselves. He told us loads about the penguins and we had reserved seating at the front of the beach viewing area where we sat in our posh foam seats to wait for the penguins to emerge from the sea and on the beach. They have to cross the beach to get to their burrows in the undergrowth. At this time they feel really vulnerable because they have no camouflage and predators are most likely to attack them while they are out in the open. The penguins tend to cross the beach in groups but right close to us two penguins made the crossing as a pair. They were so cute! One was really fat as they’re stocking up for the moult when they eat nothing. They really waddle up the sand. After a while there was a group of about 5 penguins who were scaredy-penguins and they kept going back in the water. They took ages to get on the beach and we thought they were finally going to make the crossing when they ran back in the water again! So the ranger took us to another viewing area which is only accessible to those who pay for the Penguin Plus experience so it was less busy and we saw a large group coming up the sand really very close to us. It was an amazing experience. I could have stayed for ages watching the little fellas waddling up the beach.
We had to leave at 9.20pm which seemed quite rushed but it was a long drive back to the city. Getting back on the bus we were greeted by gifts of little penguin cuddly toys. I would definitely recommend taking a trip out to Philip Island to see the Penguin Parade and Bunyip Tours is a great option. Check out the links below for more information.