Australia Day: Twenty Phillip Island – The Penguin Parade
After leaving the Art Gallery, I found the bus waiting for the approximately 2 hour ride to Phillip Island, home of a large colony of little penguins, also called blue or fairy penguins. Having been fortunate enough to visit Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands, I have already seen, and photographed emperor, king, chinstrap, adelie, macaroni, rockhopper, galapagos, gentoo and magellanic penguins. I was this close to this smallest species of penguins so I felt I had to see them.
The weather outside turned cloudy and looked like there were storms in the area but we missed them on our bus ride out of Melbourne. We quickly drove through the suburbs and into the more rural areas. Our bus driver kept us entertained with a lot of information about the regions we drove passed, and kept us laughing with his wit and jokes.
As we drove further south we found ranches and farms and large areas of wetlands. I enjoyed seeing the homes and small towns we passed wondering about the folks living their lives in an area so distant and different than the one I grew up in. The rain held off and it was a nice ride to the island. Here is a link to some more photographs from my ride to Phillip Island. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-twenty-melbourne-to-philip-island-ride-february-23-2016
We took a quick tour of the island before we made our way to the penguin sanctuary. I was disappointed when I was told by our driver that we could not take photographs of the penguins on the beach as they came ashore. I really wanted to share this experience with my blog and Facebook viewers. As we drove we did see a number of wallabies peeking out form the grass and brush.
I enjoyed watching the seagulls soaring below us, looking for a late day meal. Here is a link to some more photographs of the seagulls on Phillips Island.https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-twenty-one-phillip-island-february-24-2016
On our way to the visitor center the driver saw some little penguins, still in their burrows, and he stopped to let us take some photographs since we were outside of the restricted area. What a beautiful animal. It was molting season for the birds and these two must have lost their features and were unable to make the daily journey to the ocean to feed. It was very fortunate sighting for our group and I got my little penguin photograph!
We entered the visitor center and I viewed some of the many exhibits. I purchased a VIP package which allowed us a private meeting with one of the rangers, where we had a little snack, as we learned about the penguins and the sanctuary.
We then walked to the viewing center overlooking the beach where we joined the rangers waiting to count the penguins as the returned from their day of feeding in the ocean. What a truly amazing experience. We watched through binoculars as the first brave penguins left the ocean under the cover of darkness. They formed groups at the water’s edge, and waited cautiously, for the first in the group to make the dash over the open sand and to the safety of the rocks and shrubs in the cliffs where they make their burrows. Wave after wave waddled ashore.. It was both comical and awe inspiring.
We left the ranger overlook station and made our way closer to the beach where we saw lines of penguins noisily making their way to their burrows. We passed some of the lower nests and burrows and watched the penguins squawking loudly to call their mates to the nest and to protect it from intruding penguins. It was an amazing scene. And, as the full moon peeked through the clouds, we watched more waves of penguins running up from the ocean in the moonlight. . What a magical night. My only regret was not being able to take photographs or videos and sharing it with my family and friends. We had about an hour observing the penguins as they returned to their burrows until we had to return to our bus for the long ride home. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to Phillip Island. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-twenty-melbourne-philp-island-february-23-2016
I watched the full moon peek in and out of the clouds on the ride back to Melbourne. I was dropped off at the Art Gallery and now had to make it back to my hotel in Taylors Lakes. I had not public transportation, and even though the woman said it would be easy I debated taking the train and bus or a taxi cab. I decided on the train and made my way to the Flinders Street Station. I enjoyed walking the almost empty streets of Melbourne under the light of the full moon.
When I arrived at my stop, it was after midnight, I found out the public buses were no longer running and so I had to take a short cab ride to my hotel. I spent a few minutes outside enjoying the full moon before returned to my room. It was a long day and I quickly was asleep, dreaming of the magical penguin parade on Phillip Island. Here is a link to some photographs from my walk and ride to the hotel. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-twenty-melbourne-train-ride-home-february-23-2016
“… Once a penguin finds its perfect other penguin, they stay together pretty much forever.”
― Anna Staniszewski,