20161208

Penguins on Parade, Thurs evening 12/08/16


Feeling down or blue?  I have the perfect antidote for you:  Maru Koala Park and Penguins on Parade!




70 miles southeast of Melbourne's vertical artistry, our coach carried us down the road, through the countryside of fields and farms, past Koo Wee Rup, to family-run Maru Koala and Animal Park.  And the beginning of our afternoon adventures.

I must have been out-to-lunch when this excursion was announced because I was surprised when we stopped, and I was confused at first because I didn't know which way to go.  But, hey, no problem, I found my way to all the animals.  Here we'd interact with Australian koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, dingoes, emus, parrots, and wombats, except Jimmy and I didn't mess with the dingoes or emus and didn't see any wombats (they're nocturnal).


Who's the boss?


We could and did pet wallabies and kangaroos -- their fur is soft and silky.  For a quarter or a buck, I forget which, you could get a handful of pellet feed that they really went for, and I'm sure feeding them makes 'em pretty tame.  Mommy 'roos with joeys in their pouches seemed hungriest.  Darned if we didn't see joeys' feet sticking out of those pouches, but not a single one ever turned around and stuck its head out to say "howdy."  The lady below had a joey, with one leg poking out.  I think kangaroos and wallabies have interesting faces.




Native Australian birds.  Clockwise from top left:  Galah Cockatoos, Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, and Australian Wood ducks.  All were wild except for Major Mitchell, but he was the coolest!


Me and Bernice making a friend.


I don't know how common or rare an albino kangaroo might be,
but I do know everybody's gotta go sometime.


Koalas sleep 20 hours out of every 24, and when they're awake, they eat (good idea).  This little guy was asleep with its head hidden in the eucalyptus leaves at our arrival, but as we were making ready to leave, it woke up and commenced eating.  For twenty bucks, anyone can get a photo taken with a koala, hopefully awake, while petting and feeding it, but you have to sign up.  Sorry, no sale, but I'd like to pet one sometime.  


After an hour or more at Maru Koala Park (what a fun place!), it was time to move on, toward our dinner destination near Phillip Island.  Late in the afternoon, the pastoral landscape was easy on the eyes, but dark clouds were moving in again.

Our big coach pulled up on the side of Mario's Bayside Bistro in San Remo (the town on the mainland end of the bridge to Phillip Island), where our group seemed to be the lone patrons, but it was early (5ish).  Chef Mario and staff were waiting for us and they served up very fine dinners.  Sonya and I enjoyed our vegetarian pasta, and tho Jimmy can't remember exactly what he ordered (at this point in time), he said it was delicious.  With a big smile on his face, Mario came out of the kitchen to chat and shake hands.  Coffee and dessert got us nice and comfy for the rest of our drive (10+ miles) to the penguins on Phillip Island.  We made it onto the coach and then ...


... those clouds turned to this (above) ...


... and then this -- coloring between the lines!


Whoa, look at these Cape Barren Geese,
sporting gray feathers, chartreuse beaks, orange stockings and black shoes.  

At the western end of Phillip Island, where both The Nobbies Discovery Centre and the Penguin Parade (two of the islands top tourist attractions) are located, we met up with our ranger tour guide, hopped off the coach and out into the wet, woolly wilds of the windy boardwalk, windy being the operative word.  While the boardwalk is wheelchair accessible, I'm gonna tell you that the wind was so strong off the sea that we could barely stand up, seriously!  No rain was falling, but everything felt wet.


Rain squalls hover about the coast.


The surf was CRASHING in the wind.


Bernice and Ibby trying for a selfie with an Albert photo-bomb!


We were told that Seal Rocks (islands, back, center) is home to Australia’s largest colony of fur seals with an estimated 16,000 inhabiting the area, but we didn't see any.  Around half a million people visit the Nobbies Centre yearly, with 53% being international visitors like us.  Not too many others were Out and About this evening!


We couldn't keep our hoodies on, but we needed to 'cause the wind hurt our ears.


Another reason to be on the boardwalk is to see penguin burrows, and if you're lucky, one will be home, as above.  These Little Penguins nest in burrows.  To get here, they waddle over rocks and up the fairly steep hills from the sea, and their return has to be almost as arduous.  They're the smallest of all penguin species, about 12" tall.  No one wanted to hang around the boardwalk and we made our way back to the - ahem - gift shop, and the coach.


The Nobbies area is closed one hour before sunset each day to protect native wildlife. From the Nobbies, it was a two-mile, one-way drive on the Boulevard to Penguin Parade car park, which was already full of cars and buses, watching wallabies hop along with us.  In fact, wallabies were all over!


Again, this is accessible.  But crowded.  We made our way down the path above to a viewing stand with bleachers set up.  Because other busloads (tourists draped in plastic against wind and potential rain) had already grabbed all the primo seating, we'd have to stand in the second tier back.  Possibly short people like me could could squeeze in front. The wait for nightfall began.  We were entertained by watching wallabies cavort on the hillsides near us. 

Penguins arrive at sunset every night of the year.  And you could hear the voices in the crowd when the first few penguins appeared emerging from the surf.  "Look, over there, I see them!"  Sure enough, a few, then a few more, and then they burst onto the scene and made their way toward their own pathways alongside our paved path (waddling or scurrying or occasionally one would seem to be scratching its head, saying, "do what?").  The fencing protected the penguins from the milling crowd, who started moving forward, including us. We just stood, smiling down at the little dudes, and watched as wave after wave of penguins moved uphill toward burrows. We could hear them, but I can't duplicate what I heard. 

No photos of any kind with any means were allowed once they started ashore, so as to not distract, scare, or startle these little guys, but, as usual, that only means you, NOT ME.  It hacks me off to see people flagrantly disregard a rule like this, but I saw it done.  Reported one to a ranger, too.  So, the photos below I "borrowed" from the web, but you can find great videos on YouTube.  Here's one: Penguin on Parade video here:






Somewhere around 9:30, we ambled toward our coach, keeping watch on penguins not a foot away from us (on their side of the fence) as we all moved up the hill.  We were all going home, I guess.  Except, we had a 90-mile drive back to our hotel in Melbourne, which, as I think about it, was probably a good way to decompress from our day.  We had such a busy day, exciting and full of fun and activity, new places and experiences.  I don't remember the drive back, but sure do remember the day!

3 comments:

  1. 12 inch penguins. What cuties. Glad you reported that person. Any outcome on that? Sure is fun following along on your journey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ranger "scolded" the person. That's probably all they can do.
      Glad you're enjoying our journey ... we sure are!

      Delete
  2. Aw, those were some cute critters you saw this day!

    ReplyDelete

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