Thursday, February 13, 2014


I took another tour to see some of the wildlife of Australia.  Our tour guide Adrian was not only an excellent driver/guide, he was also extremely knowledgeable about ecological issues in Australia, so we got quite an education along the way.  We were headed to Phillip Island, about a two-hour drive from Melbourne, and we stopped at a small zoo along the way to take a look at some of the local wildlife.  We saw koalas here, and some people paid $18 to have their picture taken with one, but I passed after learning from Adrian what a trauma it is for a koala to be held by a human.

It is a temptation because they're quite adorable!  We also saw wallabies and were allowed to interact with them.




There were also sheep, goats, mules, and a few birds.  And there were a bizillion little flies, which seem to be everywhere in Australia, even in the cities.  You may think lots of people here are waving at you, but they're really just batting away these pesky little flies. They are a real nuisance.

We stopped a couple of times to enjoy the coastal scenery.  The haze here is not from natural causes. There were bush fires raging north of Melbourne, and this is the smoke from them that was blown by the north wind all the way to this coast.

When we arrived at the Phillip Island Nature Park, Adrian led us on a walk through the dunes and explained the nesting habits of the penguins, which are the smallest of all at about 12" fully grown.  The park gives their nests extra protection from predators by placing wooden boxes over them.  The penguins we saw in the nests at this time of day were chicks waitng for Mom and Dad to return from the sea and reguritate their dinner.  There were twins in this nest.

Occasionally, you would see a brave (or stupid) chick outside the nest exposing itself to natural predators (birds of prey, foxes, dogs).

There was also some pretty nice coastal scenery here.

On the way to the viewing area where you can watch the penguins emerge from the sea to return to their nests, we saw lots of wallabies.  

Adrian sent me this photo he had taken a couple of weeks ago on a sunny day.

He also sent me this one of penguins which was taken by one of his passengers.  Their blue back feathers provide camouflage from sky predators when they are floating on the sea, and their white chest feathers disguise them from their sea predators, sharks and seals.

You weren't allowed to take photos or videos of the penguins during their emergence from the sea or their walk to their nests, because the flashes can disorient the birds.  But it was allowed at one time and I found a few photographs on the Internet so that I can show you something similar to what I saw.  The observation area was rows of bleachers, or you could sit on the beach in a cordoned area.  You could see the glimmering under the water as the penguins approached the shore line where they emerged and waddled at a surprising speed to the dunes.

Then they walked up the dunes to their nests.

You can watch their journey to their nests from a boardwalk that runs from the beach up to the top of the dunes.  They don't seem to be much bothered by people being in such close proximity.

It's quite an experience to watch them waddling along to their homes and then going through their preening ritual to dry their feathers.  There's a lot that's done here to try to preserve and protect their nesting area, because there are very few colonies of these penguins left.

It was after midnight when we returned to Melbourne, and unfortunately, my last day there.  And from the country to the city, here are some of my photos from my final walk around the city.  This is a very colorful bank down the street from my apartment with a colorful dragon celebrating Chinese New Year.

The Yarra River runs through the city.

There are some beautiful parks here and a huge Royal Botanical Garden.

The gardeners seem to be wannabe sculptors.

There's some very interesting modern architecture here.  The design of the Arts Center might remind you of an anorexic ballerina.  The roof is meant to be her tutu.

But I loved the many old 19th century buildings that pepper this city.

Time to move on again....Sydney up next!

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