10 January 2007

On Phillip Island

On Thursday we drove down to Phillip Island, a small island about two hours outside of Melbourne. On the mainland a few kilometres before the island is Wildlife Wonderland, a refuge for wombats, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, emus, birds and giant earthworms. Well, it's not really a refuge for the worms, since they are all in tubes of formaldehyde, but there is a large exhibit celebrating these worms that can grow to three metres. The earthworm wing of the Wonderland is even shaped like a giant earthworm that is covered with Aboriginal art. According to their website, it is the largest Aboriginal art in Australia, which surely qualifies it as the largest Aboriginal art in the Southern Hemisphere. I'm telling you, you can view history everywhere you look down here.
I learned that there are two types of wombats. The ones you always see are the common wombat with the bullet noses. They had a few of these but they were hiding in the dark and we couldn't get good pictures of them. This is the hairy-nosed wombat in the sun, which looks (and sounds) like a hairy pig. If I
was a little disappointed with Pig Nose, it was more than made up for by the kangaroos. Heather grabbed a bag of food and we walked on in to an enclosure with about twenty red kangaroos, the largest of the species. Heather is pictured here making one beg a little for his food. The next photo is one of my favourite photo styles: the 'stand-next-to-someone-and-reach-out-as-far-as-you-can-and-take-a-self-portrait'. I've taken this photo with many different people. Now I've taken the shot with a
kangaroo. Click on the picture and you can see the 'roo reflected in one lens and my outstretched arm with camera in the other. You can also see two flies on my face--they were EVERYWHERE.
Our first stop on Phillip Island was the Koala Conservation Centre. This was basically a eucalyptus forest inhabited by koalas, but there was a nice twist: In a couple areas, a footpath was built a few metres off the ground to get you a little closer to their level. We found a couple on eye level right by the rail of the footpath and got a good look at them. One even climbed onto the rail to pose next to this sign: 'I'm free to do as I want'.
The next stop was Seal Rocks. Let me first say that it is very pretty: there's sun and water and rocks and waves. The only thing missing is the seals. I know they're out there, but they are really far away and you can't see them. We even brought
binoculars, and I could only make out little bumps on the rocks that might have been seals. So I was kind of let down. But it was pretty, minus visible seals.
We had a couple hours until the next animal encounter (hold on a minute), so we decided to take a few laps in the go carts. The
Phillip Island Circuit has a scale replica go cart track that Heather is posing in front of. As you can see it's right on the coast. My best times were a couple seconds faster than Heather's--she said she took it easy to admire the views. Not sure about that one.
As twilight neared, we headed out for the penguin parade. They don't allow photography, so be sure to click the link and look at some of their pictures. The picture of the Little Penguin (yes, that's their real name) here was taken earlier at Seal Rocks. What happens is this: every night, the penguins return to their burrows after fishing all day. They wait until it is dark for protection from eagles--their colouring is fantastic camouflage in the water, but horrible on sand. They gather in groups in the surf, build up their courage and waddle up the beach. And in almost every group, there is one that will get half way up the beach, then bail out and scramble back to the water. Hilarious.
I'll leave you with another koala photo. Next stop: Bawley Point.


michelle b. said...

nice camera, but gross kangaroo boogers.

Ann said...

read your blog. kangaroos must be interesting and a little scarry. Dont know much about them, living in the states. Nice blog