Thursday, April 17, 2014

On to Melbourne

On Tuesday we headed onward to Melbourne, where we are staying with our friend Rosemary. She had a lovely dinner for us in the evening, chicken thighs stuffed with chutney and wrapped in bacon, veggies, and a nice salad.

Wednesday we had a very big day, starting with a visit to two used bookshops in the morning. Yes, I found one more Shute book to add to my library.

After a quick lunch back at the house, we headed south toward Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade. On the way, we stopped at the Australia Garden, also known as the Royal Botanical Garden. It was a beautiful day and the garden was very interesting. Many of the native plants can survive on small amounts of water, as much of the continent is dry. We took a tram that completely circled the garden, so we could see most of the areas without too much walking. A selection of shots is shown below.

From the garden, we headed on south to Phillip Island, which is home to the smallest species of penguins. You can read more about the penguins here.

The penguins come out of the surf just after sunset and waddle up the hills to their burrows. Pictures are not allowed, and it was quite dark, so they wouldn't have been much good anyway. There are some on the website. About 5:30, an hour before sunset, the gates were opened and we walked from the visitor centre down a boardwalk to the beach area. There were lots of bleachers, and by 6:30 they were full and overflowing. We got good seats near the back and waited. As it darkened and a red moon rose over the rock on the left of the picture below, we could just see the white breasts of the penguins as they came out of the water. They stood near the edge and gathered into groups. Once they decided there were enough of them, the whole group would waddle toward the closest clump of bushes. They would gather again, and head toward the hills, where their burrows were among the low bushes. Once a number of them had reached the hills, we began to walk back toward the visitor centre. We could look over the rails and see the penguins standing around near their burrows. They were chirping loudly to each other, perhaps glad to be getting home for the night after fishing all day. It was a thrilling experience, and I can't recommend it too highly if you visit Australia.

On the way home, we stopped in a pub in San Remo for supper. I know my Indian friends will enjoy the sign above the bar, where you can get coffee, tea and tea!

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