A Travellerspoint blog


P... P... P...Pick up a Penguin!......Don't worry we didn't.

Visiting Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade!

It was time to go and check out the Fairy penguins at Phillip Island!

Knowing it was a good 2 hour drive away we got ourselves up relatively early so that we could make a day of it. We hit the road and en route chatted about campfire songs to learn for our future camp trips. It wasn't long before signs for Phillip Island appeared on the Highway but we had a little longer to go and so Broomy took the time to catch up on some much needed shut-eye after a boozy day and night the day before.


To our disappointment as we got closer and closer to the Island it started to rain and the weather got worse...


and worse...


so much so that when we stopped for petrol I was beginning to think we should have come more prepared for the poor weather....but no ....we're British and we must soldier on, come rain or shine!

When we crossed the bridge on to the island we realised we didn't really have a map to follow or know where the penguin parade was situated on the island.


It would probably be a good idea to stop for some info but as Broomy said 'there's the tourist information', we had already passed it, and Broomy said 'There it goes" to which we burst out laughing...oh well we would have use our instincts. It wasn't hard as it turns out there is only one road that circles the island.

After familiarising ourselves with where things were and locating where we would need to go for the penguin parade, we made our way to Nobbies centre. The Nobbies Centre is an ecotourism destination located at Point Grant, on the western tip of Phillip Island. The centre features boardwalks outside overlooking Seal Rock, The Nobbies (a collection of rock islands), and includes The Blowhole which is a cave in the rock that has been eroded by the bashing of the sea.


It was pretty grim when we got to The Nobbies Centre and I think Broomy was in need of a pick me up so we sat in the cafe with a coffee and had a look around at the educational displays. You were able to pay to look at the Seal Cam which overlooked Seal Rock but it was a bit over priced and we managed to zoom in with our camera to take a look. Seal Rock holds Australia’s largest colony of fur seals with an estimated 16,000 inhabiting the area.


Some interesting facts came out from the displays such as Australian Fur Seals having a very effective insulation system which keeps them warm when they dive down to depths of 200m. It also revealed some stark facts regarding Seal Hunting that occurred across the Bass Strait which decimated the seal population. Over 240,000 Fur Seal skins had been exported between the period of 1798 to 1830 and Sealers continued to operate in the Bass Strait through to the 1920's until Australian legislation in the 1970's helped save these beautiful mammals.


I mean how could you skin one of these!


Given that we had come to the island to be outdoors we were getting a bit despondent, when miraculously the weather started to clear. YAY!!


With coffee in the system we ventured out onto the boardwalks and take a look at these little hutches made up over the hill side which Broomy explained were made to help the penguins who reside on the coastline survive.


We were even able to spot a few inside......you can just about see the little fella.


The coastline is amazing too, although a bit cold in the wind!



This is Nobbies Blowhole...


This is a cave that has been carved into the coastline by the action of the waves. When a wave smashes into it, it compresses all the air inside. this combined with the force as the wave rebounds off the back wall creates a jet of spray bursting out from the tunnel entrance.

After we left Nobbies the weather really picked up and we saw out in one of the bays some surfers taking advantage of some fantastic breaks for beginners. It made me wish we had a wetsuit and board so we could give it a go.


We drove on to the main town called Cowes, where most of the amenities are on the island. We were buzzing for some Fish and Chips to help soothe hangovers and hunger and found our way to one on the main strip. Although when we went in to order we were met by an old dear who was adamant that we had to get our order in quick so she could go back and have a rest before her next shift started. It doesn't matter if you're in a small town in UK or Oz the folk are always are happy to let you know how they feel. :-)


With the sun out we took our lunch to some benches that looked out over the Bay and were quickly surrounded by a group of seagulls eager to grab a cheap eat from one of us.


Although happy as larry with our lunch.....


We had to keep an eye on it.


After we had our fill we toyed with the seagulls as they flew around us trying to grab whatever they could.


It was such a good day by this point what a difference a few hours can make!


Broomy and me preparing for retirement...


The day had gone pretty quickly and we soon had to make our way to the Penguin Parade as the sun began to set. The reason that you aim to be at the parade come dusk is that the penguins only head back inland at night to avoid any predators taking advantage of their vulnerable position on the beach.

We tried to imagine how long it would take them to get up the beach by giving it a go at the entrance.


We knew before we came to the Parade that there is a no photos policy when watching the penguins, which although isn't ideal because you want the memories, however I preferred it because the penguins wouldn't be there if flashes were going off and to be frank its likely no-one would be able to get a good shot in the low light.


But before the parade we could still take photos around the visitors center and during the lead up to the first penguin sighting.

The visitors center was set up well and had displays explaining the different kinds of Penguins. Sarah was glad that the Prehistoric Eocene Penguin was no longer around otherwise she would have met her match.


The center has also set up hutches for the penguins that you can look into without them knowing and so you got a close up of the little fellas chilling in their home.


Some of the facts about the penguins was pretty impressive as they are able to dive to depths of 72 meters and the longest dive recorded was 1:56 minutes.

Out of all the penguin species I think the RockHopper takes the lead with its cool name and hairdo.


I knew these weren't real! Honest!


As we congregated by the entrance to the beach the signs told us how many penguins had been sighted and what was going on in their world as the start of spring was the beginning of breeding season. Monogamy is not a rule these little guys adhere too with an annual divorce rate of 18%-50%, you see I did take in the displays.


It was soon time for the doors to open for us to make our way to the stands... penguins this way!!


The boardwalks out to the beach made the walk very easy and we found a spot near the front. It was going to be a bit of a wait and in hindsight we hadnt come fully prepared in terms of clothing....But cups of tea and coffee in hand we were as positive as ever.


As we waited we managed to spot our first wallaby in the distance and a seagull with no feet whilst playing the universal game of eye spy with my little eye.


A few announcements were made before the sun left with the main message being you were not allowed to use cameras or phones as it would scare the Penguins...and the guy on the PA meant it!


So we don't have any pictures after this as we weren't allowed but I can tell you it was fun watching the little penguins make the charge out of the surf to make a dash for it before suddenly bottling it and running back to the safety of the water. When they did eventually make it passed the beach they were hopping all around the boardwalks and you could get real close and watch. The noises they made were not what you'd expect either, kind of like a donkey with a cold!

It was a fun day out and great to have some time out of the city, Sarah got a new hoodie to replace the one she left on a plane almost a year ago and Broomy was able to shrug off the appalling hangover.....well not really, but he gave it a good shot the little trooper. Cheers for joining us mate.

Stay tuned for more tales


Posted by doyledan 07:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Vic Night Market

Every Wednesday eve in August the Luna 1878 Winter Night Market was held at Queen Victoria Market, and somehow we almost missed it! We were totally unaware it had been going on until I got a text from Ria if anyone wanted to check out the last one after work! Weirdly at the same time Dan got invited by his work mates to go too. Everyone clearly wanted to make the most it before it disappears until the summer.


As you approach the market you can smell all the amazing food that is being cooked at the various hawker stalls. We definitely were going to be in for a treat.


We started the almost impossible task of trying to decide which stall to get food from. With dishes from all over the world from Poland to the Phillipines we took our time walking up and down to check out what was on offer.


This is what us girls went for and I think Dan and his work mates ending up going for Philly cheese hot dogs!


It seemed we had managed to time it just right as soon we enough there were large queues everywhere for most of the food stalls. One of the most popular was a stall that was selling soup in bowls made of bread with a bread lid! Would have liked to have tried it but literally the queue went from one side of the market to the other and given that this is apparently the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere you can imagine that's a looooooonnnnng line!

We wondered around the market checking out the different wares on offer from jewellery with real plants growing inside them to these amazing puppets.


We also got swept up in the crowd following a drum procession. Such a feel good place.


As the queues for drinks in the market were so long and we wouldn't have space in our backpacks for a puppet anyway we decided to move away from temptation to a local bar for a catch up over some drinks and a Kinetic reunion before a walk home through the city :)


Looking forward to Summer night markets, but still can't get my head around the fact that summer here is November! Weird!


Posted by doyledan 02:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

More Melbourne!

Melbourne's narrow lane ways are full of quirky cool places to have a bite or sip a coffee whilst watching the world go by. Famous Degraves street is normally one of the first places people go in Melbourne to take in this cafe culture. However some how in 3 months, we hadn't! This needed to be rectified ASAP so one Sunday (when fortunately it wasn't raining) we decided to check it out.


Luckily we managed to nab one of the few available tables outside a gourmet burger joint and tucked into some tasty times.


Degraves street was ticked off the list!

Needing to walk off some of that grub we decided to continue exploring the lane ways and then head up to the State Library.


Unknown to us that day a big protest was being held in the city about the refugee situation. The use of detention centres to hold refugees whilst they are being processed, which can take years, is a big issue in Australia and the new law introduced where so called 'boat people' are now being turned away and redirected to PNG has divided opinion.


The Victoria State library is an impressive building.


I think that if my library at uni had had anything like the La Trobe reading room then I definitely would have got a first. How could you not want to study here!


We were hungry again but this time were on the hunt for cake! We found ourselves in Hardware Lane and stumbled across a place called The Larder Section.

This is their Italian chocolate cake, and oh my god it is hands down the best chocolate cake EVER well worth the $9.50. The price tag also meant we shared one and didn't have enough for another. Saving our waistlines and our wallets. I definitely want to come back for another slice before we leave this city!




Posted by doyledan 02:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Oreo's and King's


We awoke to a ripper of a morning sun with spirits high knowing we had a fun filled day ahead full of fancy dress and merriment.


It was such good weather that the rooftop of a car park over the road was being used for photo-shoots.


This weekend we would be participating in a fancy dress charity fundraiser quiz for one of our friends Sheree. We would also be attending a Medieval themed party later in the evening in aid of winter ending which Ria and her housemates were setting up.

Broomy, Sarah and I were excited when the ‘Winter is coming’ words of House Stark from the Game of Thrones series appeared on the Facebook invite for the Medieval party and equally excited with the choice of theme as it gave us a chance to live out the TV series that has been occupying our evenings for the last few weeks!


The charity event also had a theme of anything beginning with F, O or K, as it was to help raise money for Friends of Korogwe Inc which is a charity founded by Sheree Lette and Kate Rengey in 2012, to provide monetary and social support to orphaned and disadvantaged children. You can find out more here http://goo.gl/5vHuqd

After much debate we decided on Oreo cookie’s.


Sarah, Mel and I took upon ourselves to get stuck in and help prepare costumes for the quiz team. Luckily we found some large pieces of cardboard in the recycling area of our building that would be perfect for Oreo shaped cut outs. All we would need is some paint, stencils, string and in no time we would have a perfect costume. So for all you fancy dress fans here’s a cheap and easy costume to make, all you need is a white top which acts as the soft middle bit of the cookie.

We popped round to Mel’s early in the week and managed to make enough cut outs for 7 people in a couple of hours. Boom!

Obviously there had to be some prior research performed....I dutifully took this role..


The quiz team would be congregating at our flat for some pre-drinks and to get kitted up in our costumes. Katherine (‘Toots’), Robyn, Mel, Andy , Broomy, Sarah and I were well oiled before getting our Taxi to the quiz which would start late afternoon.


The taxi ride over was a real hoot and we joked around as we made our way to the venue.


On arrival one guy thought he was hilarious to shout out from his car "Wheres the milk?" , which to be fair was a good one the first time you hear it but then he proceeded to say it to each of us when we walked past. You know he is in a pub somewhere saying to a mate "you'll never guess what I said to a bunch of people dressed up as Oreos?".

We were quite surprised to be the first team there and after finding our table we headed to... you’ve guessed it...The Bar!!!


The Oreo costumes were turning heads as the other teams arrived and we were also impressed by some of the other attempts. There was the French team, the cast of Friends and even our hosts were dressed as Forks!


Sheree’s fiancé Henry, stole the show though as a pink fairy.


After we chatted about costumes and nonsense it was game on! But we were even more oiled by this point.


The small town of Korogwe, in the Tanga region on the East coast of Tanzania was where Sheree and Kate initially focused there fundraising and therefore some of the questions we would be getting would have a Tanzania theme. Luckily for us, Sarah had studied the Facebook page and we assigned the answers and clues given to all contestants so that we had those questions covered. Did it help?

Well.........in a word no.... we got all the answers that Sarah prepared right but sadly not all of the rest. The good news though was that we didn’t come last either!!

We almost won the limbo round when Toots got to the last two but was beaten by an astounding flexible tall guy, dressed up as Joey from Friends.


Broomy had a chance to get some points back with the paper aeroplane round...


But even his cardboard flapping didn’t help the trajectory of his plane.


The judges were devastating with their scoring....Nil Pois!


However, we did receive best dressed team which let’s be honest has to be the most important award!



There was another best dressed individual award which went to a girl who did a very funny and convincing French accent whilst dressed as your stereotypical Frenchmen, beret and all, answering questions with a “Oui Oui” and a non fussed “ en baguette".


After the quiz the silent auction was announced and Broomy had cleaned up, taking a West Coast Eagles footy ball and a couple of vouchers for Bowling and a drive in cinema night. But he was beaten for generosity as one fella bid over $250 for a restaurant deal!


Once all the prizes had been handed out it was time for one last group shot, and it was only 9pm at this point!


Thanks to Sheree and Katy for putting on a great night and I hope all our merriment helped with your fundraising.

As we left the venue we were getting revved up for round 2 singing OREO! OREO! OREO! songs out in the streets, which must of been a funny sight for the passer by. We said goodbyes to the girls and Broomy, Andy, Sarah and I got ready for the Medievel party.

Credit to Sarah as without her skills as a costume designer we wouldn't have pics like these!


Safe to say it was a messy night for all involved and the Sunday was a write off! The hang over was worth it though :)

Stay tuned for more tales.


Posted by doyledan 01:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Having a whale of a time!


I have been temping at Save The Children for a few months now and when I heard they were struggling to find a volunteer to drive some stock from Melbourne to their op shop in Ararat (charity shops are known as op shops here), I put our hands up. It was a perfect opportunity as Dan had been saying how he wanted to do a road trip and to be able to explore more of Victoria for free was an added bonus. As a thank you for giving up our time on a Saturday we would also be able to use the van to detour south to Warrnambool on the coast to hopefully spot some whales! :)

Ararat is a 2 and half hour drive west out of the city and so it was a 6.30am wake up call for us in order to pick up the van and get there by 10am.


We were so lucky with the weather and got a gorgeous day for the trip, a far cry from the recent horizontal rain and gale force winds we'd been having!

ROADTRIP!!! Woop Woop!


It was great to head out of the city and go on an adventure!



Despite all the signs along the road and keeping an eye out for any hopping in the fields we didn't spot any kangaroos (well not a live one anyway :( )


What a view!


We pulled off the highway into Ararat and found the shop, bang on 10 o'clock!


The op shop in Ararat is run by a lovely couple in their 80s called Brian and Dot. They set up the shop 16 years ago and have a great passion for what they do and a great sense of humour with it too.


As Dot put the kettle on, we unloaded the van and helped Brian to find space for it all in stock room of the shop.


It was a lot quicker taking everything out of the van than it had been trying to pack it all in! Even with someone horsing around!


As we were unpacking a shout came down from Dot asking if there were any playpens as a customer had come in asking for one, not for their child but because it was lambing season and they needed as many pens as they could find for all the lambs. When we got back upstairs Dot was washing chickens eggs that had been freshly dropped off from a local farm. We were definitely out of the city and in the countryside!

After good chat over a cuppa tea and some chocolate biscuits it was time for us to wave goodbye to Dot and Brian and start heading towards the coast. Dot had heard on the radio that whales had been spotted that week and advised us that sightings were best before midday...it would take an hour to get there so we needed to get a move on!

We'd been given directions to just turn left at the junction and then keep going straight to get to the coast, boy the road was straight!


Within minutes we were surrounded by fields again with sheep and cattle everywhere (other than in this pic).


...and for a moment I thought we were in Hobbiton!


I didn't spot any of these either!


This is Shadwell Hill. Brian's mate had told us too keep an eye out for it and that local students get a kick out of changing the "d" to a "g" on the signs.


We were heading to Logan's Point in Warrnambool which is a bay that is famous as one of the few places were you can stand on the beach and spot Southern Right Whales. Each year between May-October whales come to the bay from Sub-Arctic waters to have their calves and nurse them in the warm shallow water. In 1806 whaling began in Southern Australia and as the whales came into the bays they were easy to hunt. Over the years 26,000 were killed and by the 1920s they were on the brink of extinction with only an estimated 300 left in Australian waters and only 60 of those were female. Despite being protected since 1935 the population numbers have increased slowly and there may only be a few thousand left world wide. It would be a privilege to see one and so we joined the other whale watchers on the raised platform above the beach, binoculars at the ready...


Everyone was on the lookout!


It wasn't long before we spotted a puff of spray come out of the water...




Southern Right Whales are smooth backed whales with no dorsal fins so we knew they were rolling around in the water when their other fins and tail tips come out of the water. Although we didn't see any jumping (breaching) it was still exciting and for Dan who had never seen a whale before it was a special moment "They are so big!!"


It was awesome to see them but even if you didnt get a sighting, Logan's Point itself is pretty spectacular.


It was time to hit the road again in hunt for a sausage roll and to start the mission back to Melbourne.

All the sea air must have got to me as I slept most of the way back. Sleepy eyed I gazed out the window and I was so amazed at what I saw that I sat bolt upright scrambling for the camera whilst excitedly exclaiming to Dan that there was a duck and some chickens waiting to cross the road!! How amazing is that!


It was only as he started laughing at me I realised that they were just garden ornaments! Clearly going a bit quakers!


When we pulled over at a service station for Dan to have a break I thought my eyes had gone funny again, as not 1...2... but 8 cats came out of the bushes. They were in the middle of nowhere at a service station...random! They were wary of people so assume they were strays who had formed a gang that were doing well off all the food from passing motorists.


Strays here look very different to those we had come across in Asia!


We approached the city as the sun started to go down and it was a welcome sight for Dan who had done all the driving!


What a day!! :)


Posted by doyledan 16:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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