It’s been a while since I’ve written my last blog post, but it’s all for good reason! The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, tours, and trips around Australia and I simply haven’t had the time (or internet access) to update as regularly as I’d like. However, I finally have a day off before I leave again tomorrow so I thought it’d be a great time to sit down, sort through my photos, and write about my experiences.
Last weekend one of my tutorials (an ‘attendance required’ class) was canceled so I took the opportunity to treat myself to a long weekend in one of Australia’s greatest cities: Melbourne. While I’ll write more about the specifics of Melbourne in another post, for this particular blog I wanted to focus on the once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience I had on the Phillip Island tour, just a two hour drive off the city’s coast.
The tour departed at a leisurely time of 10:30 am which meant plenty of time to sleep in and get ready which was much appreciated. Additionally, the two hour drive to the island allowed you to sneak in some extra zzz’s which was a nice bonus as well. The first stop on the tour ended up being my favorite place out of them all: Moonlit Sanctuary. It was here we were given a delicious barbecue lunch and allowed an hour and a half to explore the sanctuary which was home to unique birds, dingos, koalas, kangaroos, and my favorite, wallabies.
If you’re keen on getting up close with nature, this is definitely a place you can’t miss while in Melbourne. They offer a koala experience where you can cuddle one close, as well as dingo experience where you can walk and feed the brother and sister pair that were rescued as pups and are as friendly as your average house dog.
But what made the experience so memorable was the incredible Wallaby Walk they offer where you can purchase small bags of food and walk on the trail lined with kangaroos and wallabies, eagerly waiting to eat straight from your hand! It’s an opportunity that will undoubtedly have you walking away with a stupid grin on your face after being so close to Australia’s famous creatures. The little guys are as soft as they look and will kindly let you pet and hug them as they hold your hand with theirs and eat the treats. Wallabies became my new favorite animal after that stop! They’re just too cute!
After (unwillingly) leaving the wallabies behind we headed to our next stop on the itinerary which was Churchill island. It was not a tropical island like one usually thinks of, but instead a small farm region with rolling green hills full of cattle that overlooked the ocean. We only spent a small amount of time here, just enough to be shown the ropes of a few typical farm life activities such as whip-cracking, herding sheep, and sheep shearing.
Then we left the farm for a nature walk through the Koala Conservation Centre where we roamed about the paths spotting koalas sleeping in the high eucalyptus trees above. Most of them were sleeping, as that’s what they do generally all day, but we were lucky enough to catch one who had just woken up and was looking around curiously at all us tourists standing ’round, snapping photos. Here we also stopped and had afternoon tea, coffee, and biscuits before going to our second to last stop for the day, the Nobbies.
Nobbies is a scenic stop just a few minutes down the road from our ending destination that offers beautiful views of the sea and incredible rock structures along the coast. There are several walkways that lead down and around the area, offering you an unobstructed view of the breathtaking coastal waters. Shortly after we arrived, it unfortunately began to rain (hence the ominous storm clouds in the pictures above) but we still had enough time to explore and take in the fresh sea air.
After eating dinner at the Nobbies cafeteria, we finally headed to the main attraction: the famous Phillip Island Penguin Parade. The island was once home to 16 species of penguin but due to urbanization all but one species has been wiped out. Now the island takes extremely cautious measures to ensure the conservation of this last remaining penguin colony, known adorably as the Little Penguin. Luckily, since these strong efforts have been in place, the colony is bouncing back to stable numbers, allowing the public to enjoy the penguins’ nightly walk from sea back to their inland nests to sleep for the night. I chose to upgrade to the Penguin Plus viewing option, which allows you to sit in an area with a closer view of the sea, and I personally think it was completely worth it.
The waters were completely quiet right up until 8 o’ clock when, right on schedule, each wave crashing onto shore seemed to bring with it a hundred or so penguins who as a group began the long journey to find their nests. Funnily, the penguins were not quiet, as you might expect. They were quite chattery the entire walk and many, once reaching their homes, would stand outside cleaning themselves and talking to the other penguins nearby. It was incredible to watch and be a part of! And after the majority of the penguins had made it to shore, you could walk along the pathways built above the sand to follow right along with the penguins on their walk home. I even had the opportunity to see one of the few remaining chicks still nesting at home! There are no pictures or videos of any kind allowed, for the safety of the animals, but on their website you can view all the photographs and videos that the animal professionals have taken for the public.
My whole experience on Phillip Island I felt was truly one-of-a-kind! And it felt nice to get away from the city and explore a bit of nature in the lesser known parts of Australia for a day.
If you’re an animal lover, going on this tour is a must! You can get up close and personal with all of Australia’s famous wildlife and you’re sure to enjoy the beautiful scenic nature as well! I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone traveling to Melbourne; the tour was incredibly memorable!