Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Phillip Island

Not too long after the Great Ocean Road, a few of the girls did a day trip to Phillip Island on a 12 hour day tour called "Penguin Parade." Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.

We began by catching a bus out of the city around 11, and our first stop was a tour of the winery out there. It was a small vineyard so there wasn't much to look at, but we moved on quickly to the real excitement of the morning: Panny's Chocolate Factory. Let's just say, handing out chocolate truffle as you walk through the door is an excellent marketing strategy. The chocolate was delicious and the chocolate smells that pervaded throughout the entire tour were heavenly. We walked through displays that showed where the chocolate comes from and the equipment that is used to process it and turn it into those lovely and delicious treats they kept giving us to try. Then we saw chocolate statues, a chocolate waterfall, chocolate games, a chocolate robot, a miniature chocolate town with trains chugging through - it was as close to a Wonka factory as I'm ever going to get.

When we finally pried ourselves out of there, we moved along to the Koala conservation center, where we got to see the little drop bears up close and personal. It was ridiculous to see their furry bottoms wedged way up in the spindliest branches of the trees. They snoozed right on as the wind shook them and waved them all through the air. We even got to see a baby and it's momma as they slept side by side in the trees. As we were leaving a little Wallaby hopped right across our path and scampered around beside us.

Our animal adventures weren't done yet, however, because our next stop was the Penguin Parade. We ate lunch at the Nobbies, a beautiful conservation and look out point over the water where penguins were hiding out underneath of the boardwalks. As we drove out to the part of the shore where the penguins comes out of the water for their nightly nesting, we passed a field full of kangaroos, scampering away because they were frightened by the sound of the bus. Once we made it to the actual event, the big name special that we had been waiting for, we lined up on the dark bleachers and shivered in the cold ocean breeze waiting for the main attraction. At first we weren't sure if it was a penguin or not, but slowly more and more began to waddle out of the water. Each time they would stop and check to make sure that they were not making that perilous crossing from the ocean to the dunes alone, waiting for a large enough group to teeter on over to the cover of the bushes together. Soon the cluster of slick dark bodies was enormous, and we dashed off of the seats to the walkways, where they walked by less than a foot away on their way to their individual homes. They called out to one another, letting them know they were coming or trying to guide them back. We even saw the fluffiest little baby penguins waiting shyly with their backs turned for their mother to come home.

After that, the cold night air made us rush for the bus, ready to go home. We were exhausted but fully satisfied with our day filled with girly adventures.

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