24 March 2010


Phillip Island was my favourite day of "Melbourne".

We went on a day tour with Go West down to Phillip Island, mainly to see the Fairy Penguins which return to the beach every evening.

The day started off at the Australian Garden in Cranbourne.  Not the most amazing place ever, especially since it was mainly a building site (for phase 2) and none of the water features were working. Which was a shame since part of it was meant to show the difference the presence of water makes to the plants... It would probably be of interest of keen gardener types who havn't seen much of Australia.

Then on down to Phillip Island, to the Chocolate Factory.
Now, officially I've given up chocolate for lent. That didn't last long! I fell at the first hurdle, as we walked in they handed us a truffle and I failed. It was a planned fail, so it doesn't count, right?
Its an AMAZING place! Think Willie Wonka. Ever wondered what a solid tonne of chocolate looks like? Ever seen 4 tonnes of liquid chocolate-fall? What about a giant mosaic of Dame Edna made out of truffles?

Then there were koalas...

And pretty rock formations...

Oh, and there was a snake too.

But mainly then there were PENGUINS!
We sat there in the freezing cold (for me...) in my many layers with millions of Asian tourists wearing even more layers, just waiting for the sun to go down so it was dark enough for the Little Penguins to dare come out.
But when they did it was amazing! We sat there, scanning the waterline for the little blobs.
Is that one?!
No, its a rock.
What about that?
Nah, seaweed.
Its the same rock, Ellen.
Theres one!
And another, wow! Theres loads!
Want one!

That was pretty much how it went. 
As soon as there was one on the beach there were many, and they'd all group together, sometimes dropping back into the surf, sometimes just standing around, then eventually they'd make a dash for their homes back in the dunes. After a while, we went back from the main viewing area and watched them waddling around from the board walks. Totally amazing.
Some Fairy Penguin facts from the Penguin Foundation:
Little Penguins are amazing creatures that defy many laws of nature, let alone physics to swim, dive and live the way they do. We are proud to look after them and manage their habitat that enables many people from all over the world enjoy their incredible lives.
Did you know that ?
  • The penguins at Phillip Island are the smallest of 17 species of penguins in the world (they are only 33cm tall) … their largest Antarctic cousin is the Emperor Penguin, standing up to 130 cm tall.
  • Penguins are found only in the southern hemisphere; so you will never see a penguin and Polar Bear together in the wild!
  • The name `Little Penguin` is now used instead of `Fairy Penguin` as it is a more accurate translation of their scientific name, Eudyptula minor.
Better in the water than Ian Thorpe !
  • Penguins may swim 15 - 20 kilometres a day searching for small fish to eat. One penguin was recorded travelling 100 kilometres in one day!
  • A Little Penguin has been recorded diving to 65 metres!
  • A Little Penguin can actually sleep at sea, dozing as it floats on the surface.
  • A Little Penguin can stay at sea for weeks, diving for fish, yet its waterproof feathers keep its skin absolutely dry.
The dangerous lives of Little Penguins
  • Natural hazards for penguins are sharks, birds of prey, rough weather and fish shortages.
  • Sadly, a penguin`s biggest danger is humans. They die from our plastic rubbish, oil spills at sea and on land from cars and introduced animals such as foxes, cats and dogs.
  • A fox may kill as many as 30 or 40 penguins in one night. The fox is the penguins` main predator and keeps our rangers busy protecting the penguins.
  • The Little Penguin`s dark feathers are not black like other penguins. They are a deep, rich blue. Their colour camouflages them from above and below the surface of the ocean.
I whole heartedly recommend going to see these little cuties.
If thats not possible, or you want to help more, why not adopt one?

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