‘Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.’-Albert Einstein
Melbourne, Australia was my final stop! I actually did not spend any time in the city other than to sleep, so I cannot speak to the city itself. The block I was on was quite nice! I did spend two full days outside the city limits and spending that much time outside was good for my soul! The first day was spent about an hour outside of the city. I am going to recap the day’s adventures here because the main event, seeing the blue penguins come in at Phillips Island, had a no photography policy (more later).
First up was the Moonlit Sanctuary! They rehabilitate animals and eventually release them (if they can) back into the wild. Lunch was provided and I had a guest in Norman, the friendly bird (he’s the title photo), who desperately wanted a bite of my hot dog. A perk of solo traveling, feeling like Snow White occasionally with a bird friend! We didn’t have a ton of time so I crammed in as much as possible (another perk of traveling solo). They had an additional part where you could pet a koala! It was about $20 but I have loved koalas since I was a wee one, so take my money. Note that it is illegal in most provinces to actually hold koalas (I believe only one allows it). I was given a badge and a time. There are koalas chilling in the trees as you wait. I was able to hang out with Gumnut who seemed non-pulsed by my being there. She simply ate eucalyptus. Her fur was quite soft and the little girl inside of me was quite giddy! My face highlights that ‘oh my god, I’m petting a koala…this is my life’ aspects of my trip!
I was also able to feed some kangaroos and wallabies! You have to pay about $2 for a tin of food. There is a trail to walk down and there they are. The wallabies were much more excited about the food then the kangaroos were. I literally had my hand out to a kangaroo who looked at me and continued to eat the grass. I finally found one and it was pretty cool! However, my favorite part of the picture is the little duck who took what fell out of my hand. Overall, it was such a cool experience!
Next, we drove towards the coast. First was Churchill Island, a small island that has a homestead on it. There you could watch some sheep herding and practice with a whip ala Indiana Jones (it started to rain, so I was unable to take part). There was an old house that felt like you had stepped inside of the last century. The highlight was all the livestock. It was a bit dreary out but it didn’t stopped the animals, particularly a goose that followed me around, from putting on a show. As I was wandering, I stumbled across a pen of lambs and oh my word were they cute! I got up close with a horse and a peacock, saw some really pretty flowers, and stunning views of the Southern Ocean (what the Pacific is called there).
Just over bridge, is Phillips Island, home to the blue penguins! Originally, people lived on the island but for the past several years the government has been buying back the land to preserve the penguins habitat. See, the blue penguin, the smallest breed, comes nightly to nest. Phillips Island is now an animal sanctuary where, at sundown, you can see these itty, bitty, penguins come in from the ocean. Due to their extreme blue light sensitivity, they will be stunned and unmoving for upwards of an hour, there is absolutely no photography or use of your phones on the site. This is reiterated over and over and if you are insensitive enough to not heed this (and really, shame on you), security will speak with you and ask you to leave.
The event itself was so cool! They are quite agile and move around swiftly. They tend to move in small groups and comes in waves. The blue penguins, a couple of which I saw swimming in the Doubtful Sound, are so tiny! However, they make a lot of noise and it wasn’t even mating season. It sort of sounded like that scene in ‘Forest Gump’ (my favorite movie) when Forest is talking to the principal on the front porch. It made me chuckle. But it was such cool experience and I highly recommend!