Day 2 of the mini break was amazing for so many reasons.
I am loving getting back into travel mode, of course being mum and the only one who has been to Melbourne before, I am in charge of planning. So yesterday morning I dutifully studied the map and planned a schedule which included City Sights Bus tour, Queen Victoria Markets, a big climbing wall the girls had heard of, then finishing in China Town for dinner. We set off for the circular tram which would take us to the start of the City Sights Tour.
We found the stop we needed fine. Unfortunately there was a long wait for the tram (unusual there had been a problem somewhere along the line). There were a number of the I’m hungry, I’m bored comment from Miss 9.
Finally we were onboard. I was enjoying the view and commentary while Miss 9, apparently now completely depleted of fuel was slumped beside me. My phone rang.
It was the tour guide for our trip to Phillip Island tomorrow. He asked if there was any chance we could do the Penguin tour today instead of tomorrow. He explained they had a half full tour today, only us booked tomorrow and he was sick (he did sound full of cold).
I implemented my ‘do not say yes immediately’ strategy and asked if I could call him back. I spoke to the girls and we all agreed that yes we should go a day earlier, the weather was good, we felt fresh after our big sleep and we couldn’t wait to see the little penguins.
My plan for the day was deleted and I didn’t care in the slightest!! No stressing or fretting, just straight to plan B.
We still had 3 hours until the tour left, so after filling up on a second breakfast (and purchasing a bag full of snacks for Miss 9) I suggested we checked out some street art before going to the meeting point.
We were blown away. What a truely fantastic use of space. Back alleys and lanes, including bins, fire escapes, bollards and poles all canvas for the most amazing and skilful artists. Who would have imagined what could be achieved with a spray can and a bit of flare?!!
And these photos barely do it justice.
From there we headed to the meeting point for our Little Penguin Tour. We had a 2 hour drive out to Phillip Island. We drove through the city with the guide pointing out the sights, experienced a Melbourne freeway before leaving the city behind and crossing through the lush green fields of southern Victoria. We passed asparagus market gardens, animal sanctuaries and holiday towns before reaching Phillip Island and the Parade of the Penguins.
Once we reached the south western corner of the island, we jumped out of the minibus for a short walk and a look at the Nobbies (an unusual rock formation). The cold blast of air reminded me we were actually on the edge of Bass Strait and Tasmania wasn’t all that far away!
Then we headed towards the main event, the Penguin Centre. Along the way we saw an array of wildlife including wallabies, brush tail possums, sea eagles and Cape Barren Geese. There were Penguin burrows everywhere.
After spending some time in the centre we made our way down to the viewing platform at 5:25pm as per our bus drivers recommendation. The platform was packed. We stood at the back and waited. At 5:38pm there were ohhhs and ahhhs as the first group of penguins emerged from the water. Our view was blocked somewhat, but all three of us were overawed with the spectacle of at least 100 little penguins making their way up the beach in a huddle.
Our driver told us to hold tight. It was cold down on the platform but he had armed us with blankets and ponchos. The aim he told us, was to wait out the crowds because most would drift off not coping with the cold. Then we would get a good view.
We went from standing to sitting on the side to sitting dead centre, wrapped in our blanket. There are at least 10 groups in all that we witnessed waddle up the beach. There were the scared one, the bold ones, the slow, the fast. We watched as they drifted off into their pairs, literally arm in arm (flipper in flipper), they cuddled and coed. They squawked and squeaked. Then they sat outside their burrows, seemly drying off before retreating inside. Some danced, some mated, some sat alone.
It was an exhibition I will never forget and neither will the girls. On the way back up the path to the centre, I really wanted to lean over and pick one of them up to take home in my pocket. At 30cm high, it would almost have fit!!
A day of change, a day of contrast. A day to remember!