Melbourne marked the beginning of our Australian leg of the trip. Now we’d met a few Melbournites on our trip so had a big list of things to squeeze into the three day we had there. Of all the things we were told to do, two really stuck with us- to see the Phillip island penguins and do a Great Ocean Road tour.
Cramming everything into 3 days in Melbourne was tough! We had about a day and a half in the city itself. Our flight into Melbourne was very early so after hopping on the Skybus into the city, we still had plenty of time that first day. Luckily our hotel- the Pensione- was in the CBD so it was easy enough to get around to most places on foot. The receptionist there recommended us visit the laneways which are small roads with quirky shops and artwork (like Hosier St which is covered in pretty good graffiti). We managed to see a couple of them and thought they were pretty cool. Of course we also did all the touristy things- Federation Square, the Southbank etc. and spent time wandering around the shopping district.
I have to say the ladies in Melbourne seem pretty well dressed! I was impressed! There’s lots of cool shops though so no excuses not to be I guess! Unfortunately prices here compared to everywhere else in the world are much higher so it didn’t seem worth getting anything. Especially when we’re planning to go to Southeast Asia soon!
On our wanders, we wandered into a little ice cream parlour without realising it was a fancy nitrogen ice cream bar! We’d never seen these before and it was awesome! (If you don’t have these where you are keep an eye out cause I’m sure they’ll be heading out there!). I went for the Tim Tam flavoured one which was very very yummy whilst Cat had a salted caramel popcorn extravangza.
The Phillip Island tour took out half a day of our stay. We chose to go with the Little Penguin Bus. It had good reviews and was also the cheapest tour option I found at $88AUD each. That includes a general admission tickets for the penguins and transport to and from Melbourne. Most of the other tours I found included longer trips into the national parks which would’ve been great if we’d had the time but we didn’t. Saying that our driver did take us a little way around the island to see nesting penguins and wallabies and he also gave great tips for viewing the penguins too! (You can just get a greyhound bus there too which probably works out even cheaper).
The set up for the penguins was a little bizarre in that it was so well organised it’s like going to a theme park! There are a few grandstands on the beachfront complete with a cafe, toilets and a gift shop. (I got myself a t-shirt…). So armed with donuts, hot chocolate and blankets (provided by our driver) we found ourselves seated by the beach and settled in to wait for the penguins to arrive. And it was good.
These penguins are tiny things- the smallest of their species- at less than 30cm high and man, are they are a skittish bunch. Every evening they come ashore after fishing to go back in their burrows for the night and it is a time consuming process. They come in with the waves in groups, or rafts, checking for danger and turning tail if they think something’s amiss. It’s hilarious to watch. They come in, then swim out, then come in again and run away again… Every now and then a bold penguin will make some headway and you think they’ll make it but then they run back into the sea. Tiring, tedious? Yes but incredibly adorable. Once they make it ashore you can see them waddle back to their burrows. The raised platforms and gangways let you get very close to them without disturbing them which was pretty cool.
That was one late night followed by an early morning as we woke up to join a great ocean road day tour. Lots of people we’d met raved about doing this but to be honest I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about… Granted I did sleep through a lot of it but it was no different and in fact not as good as the Pacific Coast Highway road trip I’d done in California a couple of years ago. But maybe I was just grumpy that I had to get up early that day…
The tour took us all the way to the Twelve Apostles and back again with lots of stops for photos, a mid morning tea break and lunch which was included. We also got our first glimpses of koala bears in the wild and learned more about the local flora and fauna. There was nothing wrong with the tour itself, I was just not as interested in it as I perhaps should have been and I was a bit miffed I’d given up a day in the city for it!
But onwards and upwards, eh?
Next stop on our flyby tour of Oz: Sydney! (The home of P. Sherman, 42 Wallabee Way…)