Where We Went:
Phillip Island is located 140km southeast of Melbourne, known for its scenic coastline, fantastic surfing, motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, wildlife eco-tours and nightly parade of little, aka fairy penguins!
What We Did:
A packed day of activities to fill the hours before the island’s star attraction: The Penguin Parade. Driving in from Melbourne this morning, we kicked things off at the Koala Conservation Centre, where we had our first of hopefully many encounters with this shy little marsupial. The kids ran loose on the raised boardwalks and it didn’t take long to spot our first koala, munching eucalyptus leaves in the nook of a tree. We spotted a few more on the 600m Woodland Treetop Boardwalk, including one so close Raquel wanted to reach out and hug him. Once they realized that koalas are prone to basically sit around and munch leaves all day (of which a single leaf takes 10 days to digest), the kids were more interested in picking their own fragrant eucalyptus leaves and looking for copperhead snakes. After lunch, we visited the Churchill Heritage Farm to see sheep shearing, whip cracking and working dog demonstrations. Dad was given an opportunity to, at long last, literally crack the whip. Gali refused to sleep until we drove a half hour to the Nobbies Centre on the island’s western-most tip. The coastline was gorgeous, and a modern visitor centre offers sweeping views of the ocean, hot meals and a cinematic and interactive Antarctica exhibit. We strolled along the boardwalk in the fresh ocean breeze, and holed up with bus loads of tourists to wait for the penguin call. Watching the world’s smallest penguin, the little or fairy penguin, emerge from the ocean each sunset is one of the most popular attractions in Australia, attracting millions of tourists each year. There are various viewing platforms and posts (we were on the Plus platform, which is limited to 300 people, overlooks the most popular pathway and includes a ranger with commentary). No photos are allowed during the Penguin Parade because it messes with the penguins, and there’s something about these tiny birds that drives people crazy. Not napping and having a long, long, day was enough to drive our toddlers crazy already.
What We Ate:
A fantastic lunch of chicken parmigiana for Mom and Dad. Raquel called her chicken nuggets and chips “amazing!” while Gali got his first taste of Bundaberg sparkling juice and refused to let go. Dinner was at the Nobbies Centre, watching the sun begin to set over the Bass Strait.
My Favourite Pictures Today
Where We Slept:
The Oaks, Southbank. Just a few nights left in our first Oaks hotel, conveniently located around the corner from the ABC television studios where Dad has tomorrow’s early morning interview!
Koalas have two thumbs on their front paws to help them grip trees. Koalas are protected but their habitat isn’t. As a result, there numbers have decreased significantly due to farming, agriculture (not to mention dogs and traffic). They don’t do much during the day, and nobody is sure why settlers introduced them to Phillip Island. Dad learned to crack a bull whip, much to the amazement of his daughter. Raquel learned how sheep are sheared, and the world record stands at 731 sheep sheared in just nine hours. The shearer gets $3 per sheep, and the wool grows back in about a year. Gali learned to run really fast (and that if you fall when you run really fast it’s not very pleasant). Both kids learned to get on a surfboard (albeit, a landlocked one outside the Rip Curl store). We learned that it’s way more affordable and enjoyable to eat at a locals cafe than at a tourist centre (small pies should not cost $9). There are 18 species of penguin, and Phillip Island is home to the largest colony of little penguins, which weigh just 1kg, have blue and white feathers, and are on average just 13 inches tall. Once they finish hunting for food at sea, they return to their burrows (and thousands of tourists) at sunset.
Reflection of the Day
The Best Part:
Raquel: Seeing Daddy do the whip cracking (take that penguins!), and “being with you guys!” which we assure you we did not prompt her to say. Gali’s favourite part of the Day: Eee-ya-oh! (which is Gali-speak for any creature that is not human, of which we encountered many today). Meanwhile, both kids cracked themselves up inside the Antarctica Chill Zone and the cool Augmented Reality exhibit which showed orcas, penguins and seals playing at our feet.
The Worst Part:
Gali and Raquel both took wipe-outs (Gali while running on a sidewalk, Raquel while climbing out the car). Everyone had a rough night of sleep last night, which Mom believes is the result of Dad’s late night ghost tour, and the weird energy that returned with him.
We'll Always Remember
- Name: Toby
- Favourite Place: Northern NSW
- I Love Travel Because: I love meeting new people
- My Advice for Kids: Be good to your parents
- Name: Meyer
- Favourite Place: Uluru. The freedom of it is purifying, it's the heart of the country.
- I Love Travel Because: You get new perspectives on the way you see yourself and other people. Travel made me a passionate Australian. It made me realize how incredible our opportunities are here.
- My Advice for Kids: There's only one person on the planet with your DNA. The way you see the world is unique. Don't copy people. Stick to your own talents. You don't need to imitate others.
- Name: Carmelina
- Favourite Place: Sandringham, Victoria
- I Love Travel Because: It helps me relax, unwind and expand my mind.
- My Advice for Kids: Take care of your Mum and Dad. They can sometimes get lost, it's not the other way round.
Today's Random Thing
A Note from Mom and Dad
Our kids adore animals, and can’t get enough of them. Any activity that promises an encounter with a horse, cow, duck, dog or sheep – never mind koala bears and penguins – gets them fired up and behaving well. Raquel has a strong sense of injustice. She argued with us for a half hour that we were being unfair to tell her to stop whining because…well, she’s four and who knows what’s firing beneath her mop of hair. We put in a 12-hour day with the kids (the Penguins only emerge onto the beach around 9pm) and still had a two-hour drive home (the kids slept most of the way). We kept the pace light and easy, the itinerary had a natural flow, and the enthusiasm and energy of the kids was great. Are we at last finding our groove? Pity we’ll have to toss it out with the bathwater with two overnight trips scheduled this week, and a change of primary location too. Why are we doing this? Because we are insane, and wouldn’t want it any other way.