Phillip Island – Kangaroos, Koalas and PENGUINS, Oh My!

Yesterday (Sunday) we were able to get a little farther out of the city.  We took a group tour to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade. Along the way, there was also a stop at a small animal sanctuary where the group had lunch and we finally got to get up close to see and pet some kangaroos!

The tour was organized by a Meetup group we joined online. There are hundreds of different types of these groups for various interests and ages and people in Melbourne seem pretty active in them. We figured it’s a good way to explore the city a little more and maybe meet some new people. This particular group is focused on International Newbies [to Melbourne] and they organize all sorts of events, generally at a discount. Most of the members are in their 20s and 30s. It turned out to be a pretty fun day.

If you’ve never seen the “True Facts” videos on Youtube before, then here’s a little treat for you to learn a little about marsupials. The last bit about the Koalas is the best but now I can never look at them the same way! Disclaimer: the language and video content is intended for a more “mature” audience so I wouldn’t sit down and hit play with your little ones but then again who am I to tell you how to raise your kids 😉

The animal sanctuary was small but had a variety of inhabitants. I generally get sad at places like zoos. I don’t really like seeing animals in cages but I do feel better when I know that an organization is strongly affiliated with a conservation group.  Here at least the kangaroos and wallabies are roaming around free. And they are ADORABLE. Aussies consider kangaroos to be the equivalent of vermin –  they are overpopulated and can be a nuisance. But to me, it was one of the highlights to get so close. Who doesn’t think of kangaroos when they think of Australia?!

The best part of the day by far was the Penguin Parade. Every day at sunrise and sunset the penguins gather up in groups to cross the beach to get into and out of the ocean for feeding. The penguins are about a foot and a half tall and scurry across together in groups of 10 or so to avoid predators such as sea hawks.

A group of penguins will gather on the beach until they feel they have the right numbers. They hide amid the seaweed and then start inching forward together. Then they’ll make a run for it. The cutest is when you see a scraggler get left behind who then decides whether to brave the trek alone or run back to join another group.

Since pictures are absolutely forbidden once the penguins arrive on the beach, I had to pull a couple from online. Apparently, you can have yourself superimposed on an image of the penguins at the visitors center for a fee but we declined. And no worries, I suppressed the very strong urge to steal one and hide it under my jacket!