Manly Beach

Day 51 to 52: Jun. 8 to Jun. 9 – Sydney to Manly Beach

Daily Distance = 5.37km, Trip Total = 1,306.01km, Today’s Climb = 55m

While walking around Sydney over the last few days, I observed a few things to be mindful of when cycling with all of my gear:

1) not all trails that google maps identifies are bicycle friendly

2) The roads in the city are rarely straight and for those who are directionally challenged like me, it is very easy to end up on the wrong road (or at least, not the road intended)

3) Some roads suddenly ‘dump’ you on to an expressway or distributor road with little to no warning (this I observed cycling back from Bondi Beach when I was on a regular city street with a 50km/hr speed limit, traffic lights, roundabouts, etc and then suddenly with what seemed like no warning I was on an 80km/hr road with no shoulder, no sidewalk, no lights, nada – fortunately traffic was light at the time and I was able to exit off relatively quickly)

This was one of the trails that google maps suggested I take to get to the ferry. Needless to say, I re-routed

This is one of the trails that google maps suggested I take (using the ‘bike’ option to get to the ferry. Needless to say, I re-routed

 

On today’s trip I lucked out.  Other than a couple re-routes due to unexpected staircases I was able to get to the ferry quickly enough and made my way over to Manly Beach.

See the hooks in the upper part of the ferry/picture? That's where they asked me to hang my bike for the ferry ride. I'm still not sure if they were joking or not....

See the hooks in the upper part of the ferry/picture? That’s where they asked me to hang my bike for the ferry ride. I’m still not sure if they were joking or not….

A final view of the opera house from the ferry

A final view of the opera house from the ferry

Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour

Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour

 

I spent a couple days in Manly Beach, hiding from the rain when it was raining and sitting by the ocean watching the surfers and listening to the sound of the waves when it wasn’t raining!  The rain days also gave me a good opportunity to get some research done on the upcoming lag of the trip.

I've seen this in several places in Australia and love the idea - they have a tap that allows you to quickly and easily fill a water bottle. Some of them even have counters to indicate how many plastic bottles they have saved!

I’ve seen this in several places in Australia and love the idea – they have a tap that allows you to quickly and easily fill a water bottle. Some of them even have counters to indicate how many plastic bottles they have saved!

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

The main strip of Manly Beach

The main strip of Manly Beach

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Sunset time in Manly Beach

Sunset time in Manly Beach

Decided to try a panoramic pic

Decided to try a panoramic pic

 

I was going to walk the 5km one way to North Head (a local told me you can sometimes see whales from shore from North Head – the whales are currently migrating north), however I never had confidence that the rain would stop for any lengthy period of time so I decided to stick to shorter walks closer to town and cover!

A view of Manly Beach and the pine trees along the shore

A view of Manly Beach and the pine trees dotted along the shore

Another natural pool!

Another natural pool!

 

And for those who are missing Dash, here is what she has been up to:

Gardening...

Gardening…

Hanging out in her sun spot while still keeping an eye and ear on her sitters....

Hanging out in her favorite sun spot while still keeping an eye and ear on the activity in the condo….

Hiding....kindof....?

Hiding….kindof….?

Sydney

Day 47 to 50: Jun. 4 to Jun. 7 – Sydney

Daily Distance = 26.98km, Trip Total = 1,300.64km, Today’s Climb = 378m

This will be a photo heavy post too as these days were spent taking in the sights in Sydney.  One day I hoped on the bike and headed over to Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach.  There is a beautiful ‘coastal walkway’ between these two beaches, key emphasis on ‘walkway’.  With the volume of stairs I quickly learned this was not the ideal place for a bike, so spent a decent amount of time carrying and walking my bike!

A 'natural pool' at Coogee Beach

A ‘natural pool’ at Coogee Beach

Coogee Beach

Coogee Beach

Gordon's Bay along the Coastal Walkway between Bondi and Coogee Beach

Gordon’s Bay along the Coastal Walkway between Bondi and Coogee Beach

Another pic along the Coastal Walkway

Another pic along the Coastal Walkway

My first surfer sighting! :)

My first surfer sighting! :)

Also along the coastal walkway

Also along the coastal walkway

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

 

While in Sydney I also did the BridgeClimb, this is a climb of the outer arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It’s a pricey excursion, but totally worth it while in the area!  The whole adventure is about 3.5hrs, but a decent amount of time is spent getting the gear and safety equipment on.  And there are multiple stops along the walk to take in the views which are impressive.  Our leader was also extremely knowledgeable, entertaining and gave us a lot of info about the city and the bridge along the way.  We weren’t allowed to take cameras on the climb (no loose equipment is allowed in order to ensure things don’t fall on to the motorway below).

I was also in town for ‘Vivid’, which is a light show in the city that runs for 3wks at the end of May to mid June.  This show drew a massive crowd to the downtown area at night, all taking in the variety of light shows being presented.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanical Gardens

A street in The Rocks

A street in The Rocks

A water staircase

A water staircase

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

Opera House

Opera House

Circular Quay and the city

Circular Quay and the city

Another pic of the Opera House

Another pic of the Opera House

Probably the two most iconic Sydney landmarks: 1) Opera House and 2) Harbour Bridge

Probably the two most iconic Sydney landmarks: 1) Opera House and 2) Harbour Bridge

Evidence of the bridge climb!

Evidence of the bridge climb!

This group pic was taken at the top of the bridge by our guide Kevin

This group pic was taken at the top of the bridge by our guide Kevin – he was the only one allowed a camera which was attached to his suit

If you look really closely just left of the flags at the top of the arch of the bridge, you'll see some specs - those are people doing the bridge climb

If you look really closely just left of the flags at the top of the arch of the bridge, you’ll see some specs – those are people doing the bridge climb

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The lighting of the Opera House during Vivid Sydney

The lighting of the Opera House during Vivid Sydney

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The Opera House was a screen for the light show, changing pictures, often animated by the minute

The Opera House was a screen for the light show changing images by the minute it seemed, often animated

Another picture on the opera house during Vivid

Another picture on the opera house during Vivid

The bridge was also constantly changing coloured lights during Vivid

The bridge was also constantly changing lights during Vivid

Cadman's Cottage was also participating

Cadman’s Cottage was also participating

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A view of the city during Vivid

A view of the city during Vivid

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The Royal Botanical Gardens also had an exhibit

The Royal Botanical Gardens had an exhibit too – this was 1 of many in the gardens

At the Royal Botanical Gardens

At the Royal Botanical Gardens

Blue Mountains

Day 46: Jun. 3 – Blue Mountains

I spent all of today’s daylight hours hanging out at the Blue Mountains National Park.  Taking in the views at some of the lookouts, doing a couple short walks in the rainforest and riding the railway, cablecar and skyway at Scenic World.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking for this post :)

Looking out over the valley

Looking out over the Jamison valley in Blue Mountains

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The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

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A closer view of the first sister

A closer view of the first sister

There's actually a staircase and bridge leading to the first sister

There’s actually a staircase and bridge leading to the first sister

Standing under the first sister

Standing under the first sister

Another valley pic

Another valley pic

A view of the Three Sisters and valley from Scenic World

A view of the Three Sisters and valley from Scenic World

The coolest ride at Scenic World - the Scenic Railway

The coolest ride at Scenic World – the Scenic Railway

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The play the Indiana Jones theme song as the railway departs :)

The play the Indiana Jones theme song as the railway departs :)

A picture can't do it justice, but this the railway after the grade has evened out a bit (the steepest part is going through a crevice in the cliffs)

A picture can’t do it justice, but this the railway after the grade has evened out a bit (the steepest part is going through a crevice in the cliffs)

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Katoomba Coal Mine

Katoomba Coal Mine

I luved all the vines on the trees in the rainforest

I luved all the vines on the trees in the rainforest

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Road Trip

Day 43 to 45: May 31 to Jun. 2 – Bairnsdale to Katoomba

Daily Distance = 3.37km, Trip Total = 1,273.66km, Today’s Climb = 16m

This section of the trip officially became a road trip vs a cycling trip.  There are some stretches in this area that become quite remote (more than 100km between towns) and it’s hilly.  Those two don’t work well for me together with short daylight hours.  And I’m also done with hills of any substance after New Zealand ;).  So I decided to pick up a rental car, see some sites along the way and hopefully get further north and into warmer weather.  I can’t wait to get into t-shirt weather!!

I had a short trip to pick up the rental car, which was actually operating as part of a Mazda and Hyundai dealership.  Not knowing this I actually went back and forth a couple of times but finally saw this sign indicating where I needed to go:

It didn't dawn on me to look for the Hertz shop amongst the parking lot

It didn’t dawn on me to look for the Hertz shop amongst the parking lot

 

Unfortunately the rental car company didn’t have a navigation system for me as requested, so after some debating I decided to purchase one.  If anybody has a need for a GPS with Australia and New Zealand maps loaded on it, lemme know!

I stayed on Hwy A1 from Bairnsdale to Wollongong with a couple stops along the way.  This is a scenic drive, mostly in forested area that is constantly going up and down hills with glimpses of the mountains to the left and the occasional peak at the ocean to the right.

Town of Cann River

Town of Cann River

Typical trees found in this area

Hwy A1 just leaving Cann River

This museum was closed when I passed through, so I didn't have a chance to check it out

This museum was closed when I passed through, so I didn’t have a chance to check it out

The town of Eden had a lot of historical plagues, but they maybe mean more to locals who know the people being referenced

The town of Eden had a lot of historical plaques, but they may mean more to locals who know the people being referenced

An occasional glimpse of the ocean!

An occasional glimpse of the ocean!

And the mountains in the distance to the north

And the mountains in the distance to the north

I'm noticing a lot of street art in Australia so far.  This one was in Wollongong

I’m noticing a lot of street art in Australia so far. This one was in Wollongong

I also stumbled upon a Street Eat Market in Wollongong

I also stumbled upon a Street Food Market in Wollongong

Gippsland

Day 42: May 30 – Sale to Bairnsdale

Daily Distance = 72.51km, Trip Total = 1,270.29km, Today’s Climb = 180m

Today was another eye to the sky kindof day.  The forecast was originally calling for it to be a washout, but then they lightened it to just on and off showers.  It wasn’t raining when I woke up, so I decided to get an early start and get as much cycling in without rain as possible.

Just north of Sale I turned off the Hwy and was able to take a secondary road (C106) the majority of the way to Bairnsdale.  This secondary road was great to cycle on.  Paved the whole way and quiet traffic.

More farmland today

More farmland today with some mountains in the backdrop

They have sheep in Australia too!

They have sheep in Australia too!

Interesting birds along the way

Interesting birds along the way

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A couple times I passed signs that indicated the road is subject to flooding and that there were market indicators to indicate how much.  Then a few hundred meters later I’d come across a sign marking up to 2 metres!  2 metres??  I’d need a paddle for that!

I passed through one town all day called Bengworden, but to call it a town is a bit of a stretch.  It had an old building that was signed as a community hall with two lifeguard chairs sitting on the grass (no pool).  I was going to take a picture, but I was just heading around a bend and suspected that I just wasn’t in the town yet.  However about a km later with no sign of human life, houses or anything I came up to a sign saying ‘thank you for visiting Bengworden’.  I guess that was the town!  I was hoping to find a picnic table or bench to grab a quick snack, but instead had a quick bite to eat while standing over my bike on the side of the road while the mosquitos swarmed me.

Otherwise the ride was pretty uneventful.  It was relatively flat, I had another healthy tail (slight cross) wind today and was able to cover the distance in quick order.  I got sprinkled on a few times, but fortunately the bulk of the rain waited until I’d reached my destination again – yay!

Flat tree-lined, quiet roads

Flat tree-lined, quiet roads

Those cyclists look faster than I!

Those cyclists on the sign look faster than I!

 

A New Record

Day 41: May 29 – Traralgon to Sale

Daily Distance = 54.79km, Trip Total = 1,197.78km, Today’s Climb = 137m

Originally I was going to make the town of Stratford my destination today and I was going to take the Gippsland Plain Rail Trail.  However after several attempts to arrange accommodations at the local hotel in Stratford proved unsuccessful, I decided to make the bigger town of Sale my destination.  Unfortunately the rail trail did not head in the direction of Sale, so I opted instead for the M1 highway.

I had another healthy tailwind today, pretty flat terrain and no real places of interest to stop (the only town I went through was Rosedale which didn’t have anything that drew my eye).  So I made quick work of the days ride.  Less than three hours later I was in Sale and my Garmin Bike GPS informed me I now have a new fastest 40km’s – average moving speed of 22km/hr!  I think the tailwind gets most of the credit for this one! :)

Cool tree enroute

Cool tree enroute

I like a wide shoulder, but even this seems excessive - the shoulder is wider than the 2 lane road!

I like a wide shoulder, but even this seems excessive – the shoulder is wider than the 2 lane road!

Typical view today - flat land with faint indication of hills in the background

Typical view today – flat land with faint indication of hills in the background

Not much climbing today, but here's a glimpse at the top of today's climb.  Just outside of Rosedale

Not much climbing today, but here’s a glimpse at the top of today’s climb. Just outside of Rosedale

No train sightings today

No train sightings today

Slow to 40km/h?!?  Does that mean I have to speed up to 40km/h???

Slow to 40km/h?!? Does that mean I have to speed up to 40km/h???

Sale town centre

Sale town centre

 

The afternoon was spent resting, relaxing and researching.

Racing the Rain

Day 40: May 28 – Warragul to Traralgon

Daily Distance = 60.30km, Trip Total = 1,142.99km, Today’s Climb = 311m

Today the temperature dropped a bit.  I think the high is supposed to be 12 degrees, but at this time of year it only reaches the high for a couple hours of the day.  Not bad if it’s dry.  But if raining it’s not overly pleasant.  It rained throughout the night and stopped in the morning, calling for chances of rain throughout the day.  My host had actually offered to give me a lift to my next day’s destination as he was heading my way, but given it wasn’t raining in the morning and there were signs of blue skies I decided to bike.

I packed up quickly and got on the road as fast as I could, deciding the more cycling I can get in before it starts raining the better.  I made my way to the M1 highway and was encouraged to see the signs indicating cyclists are allowed on the highway.

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Crossing the on/off ramps can be tricky at times, but at least I know I'm allowed to be here! :)

Crossing the on/off ramps can be tricky at times, but at least I know I’m allowed to be here! :)

 

I was also encouraged by the extremely wide shoulder on the highway.

Top of today's climb and a nice wide shoulder on the highway

Top of today’s climb and a nice wide shoulder on the highway

Other than 1 roadkill kangaroo, this sign was my only other kangaroo spotting today (I'm told seeing them as roadkill is common).  I'm also told that kangaroos are more active during dusk and dawn, so it's been advised that I stay off the road during these times

Other than 1 roadkill kangaroo, this sign was my only other kangaroo spotting today (I’m told seeing them as roadkill is common). I’m also told that kangaroos are more active during dusk and dawn, so it’s been recommended that I stay off the road during these times

 

For about a quarter of today’s ride I was actually able to take a quiet road that ran parallel to the highway (thanks to my host last night for bringing this road to my attention!).  Both the side road and the highway felt very safe to be on.  And I also had the pleasure of a decent tailwind – yaaay!

Quiet road running parallel to the train tracks and highway

Quiet road running parallel to the train tracks and highway

Today's farmland views

Today’s flat farmland views

 

So far I managed to evade most of the rain.  With about 20km to go I got sprinkled on a bit, but nothing too drastic.  And then 4km’s from my destination I looked up to the sky to see this:

Those look like rain clouds!

Those look like rain clouds!

 

I buckled down and pedalled my heart out.  Rolling up to my Airbnb destination just as a few drops started falling.  The house I was staying at had an awning over the front porch, so I immediately made a beeline for the awning.  Within minutes it was raining buckets!

View from the front door of my Airbnb minutes after I arrived

View from the front door of my Airbnb minutes after I arrived.  Maybe can’t see in the picture, but trust me – it was a lot of rain

 

This host had two fox terrier dogs that became my lap companions for the afternoon:

Mischa and Jackman

Mischa and Jackman

 

Gravel Roads

Day 39: May 27 – Officer to Warragul

Daily Distance = 53.67km, Trip Total = 1,082.69km, Today’s Climb = 357m

I wasn’t really sure whether bicycles were allowed on the highway (M1) in this area and I found the secondary road (C433) to be busier than I would have liked.  So I decided to try some country roads that were heading in my general direction (there were a few minor zig zags).

The first 10km’s was spent on decent paved roads.  But then this happened:

A tour cyclists nemesis - gravel roads!

A tour cyclists nemesis – gravel roads!

 

A gravel road!  Gravel can be tricky when your bike is loaded with gear.  It’s extra work for your legs to power through the extra resistance that gravel provides over pavement.  However I do have the thicker tires, so they would be able to handle the small stones and the gravel seemed packed enough, so I decided to forge forward.  I may have re-thought that if I knew I’d be spending the next 30km’s on gravel, but that’s ok.  I made it through!  And other then being chased by 3 dogs, it was a really, really quiet ride.  I think I only saw 2 or 3 vehicles along this whole stretch.

Today's scenery - farm land with hills in the distance

Today’s scenery – farm land with hills in the distance

And then started to

I liked this stretch with trees on both sides of the road

I was definitely happy for the thicker tires during this stretch - loose gravel

Was definitely happy for the thicker tires during this stretch – loose gravel

Proof that I was there

And the road got narrower and narrower!

The view from the top of today's climb just before the town of Drouin

The view from the top of today’s climb just before the town of Drouin

 

On the edges of Drouin I stopped at a park for a break and upon getting off my bike I immediately noticed that one of the screws on one of my rear panniers had come off.  Probably from all of the bumping over the gravel roads.  Gravel roads = hardware malfunction!  I should have taken a picture, but essentially this is what keeps my pannier attached to my bike rack.  Fortunately each rear pannier is attached by 4 screws.  The one that had come off was on the edge.  So I decided to move one of the interior screws to the outside to keep the pannier in place for the rest of the day’s ride and made a note that I’d have to find a hardware store to get a replacement.

Between Drouin and Warragul I opted for the secondary, paved road and was happy to notice that traffic was not near as busy as where I had started this mornings ride.  It’s safe to say I’m now out of the city/suburb limits.

I arrived at my Airbnb destination, got cleaned up and walked the 3km’s southwest into town for some light groceries and dinner.  From there I walked about 2.5km east to the hardware store where the employee was super helpful finding the size of nuts, screws and washers I needed to fix my pannier.  After that I walked the 3.5km’s back to the Airbnb.  That’s 9km’s!  In hindsight I should have biked.  But for some reason when I reach my destination for the day I have no desire to get back on the bike until the next day! lol!

When I got back to the Airbnb accommodations, I had a good conversation with the host who is a road cyclist.  So he gave me a detailed explanation of what lay ahead for my ride tomorrow (ie. where the hills were) and what stretches I could take secondary roads and where it would be best to take the highway (he confirmed cyclists were allowed on the highway here).  Afterwards we watched a footy game on tv with a glass of wine while I fixed up my pannier and my host, who umps footy gave me some more insight into the rules of the game.  I think I know enough now I could actually properly follow the game!

1,000km’s down!

Day 38: May 26 – St. Kilda’s to Officer

Daily Distance = 55.03km, Trip Total = 1,029.02km, Today’s Climb = 311m

I had a choice in my ride today: 1) Add a few km’s and spend the first dozen km’s along the coast or  2) head directly into suburbia.  I opted to add the few km’s and enjoy the coastline for the first stretch of my ride.  And I’m glad I did – it was definitely the most enjoyable part of my bike ride for the day.

Dedicated bike paths along the coast - that's the life for me!

Dedicated bike paths along the coast – that’s the life for me!

With glimpses of beaches

With glimpses of beaches

I can't wait to be on beaches and in beach weather (still long sleeve weather at the moment)

I can’t wait to be on beaches and in beach weather (despite the sun, it’s still long sleeve weather at the moment)

 

That’s it for photos for the day.  The rest of the ride was suburbia. Which is to be expected in a city the size of Melbourne.

However there was a milestone of note today.  Today I broke the 1,000km mark for this trip!!!!!!  Woot, woot!!!! :)

My destination for the evening was an Airbnb in a town on the outskirts of Melbourne called Officer.  The house I stayed at was stunning, I was particularly impressed with the lights that automatically turned on and off (it’s the simple things really).  After getting cleaned up I headed into town for dinner.  After dinner I had the opportunity of meeting my host for the evening, who shared with me just a few of her travelling stories…..it always inspires me!  She is from Australia but spent about a decade travelling and living in many countries abroad, holding jobs in several different fields (a jack of all trades).  Unfortunately we could only chat for a little while as she had some work obligations she needed to take care of, but the conversation was a great way to finish the day!

The Penguin Episode

Day 36 & 37: May 24 & 25 – Melbourne to St. Kilda’s

Daily Distance = 9.23km, Trip Total = 973.99km, Today’s Climb = 35m

I didn’t have a lot of ground to cover today, so I held off on checking out until the last possible minute.  While I was putting my panniers on the bike, an employee of the hostel started chatting.  He says he is an avid cyclist himself and is hoping to start touring someday.  He immediately noticed the brand of bike I had (Surly) and mentioned that all the tourers who come through have that brand and speak well of it.  I haven’t seen any tourer cyclists in Australia yet, so I was happy to hear I’m not the only one!

After chatting for a bit, I headed on my way for the easy ride to St. Kilda’s, a little beach area of Melbourne about 8km south of the downtown core.

This building caught my eye

I thought this building was interesting

 

I arrived at my destination about an hour later, which was too early to check in.  So I wandered around, found a Mexican restaurant with an outdoor patio to have lunch and kill some time.

St. Kilda's

St. Kilda’s

 

After checking in, getting cleaned up and settled in, I strolled around the town for a bit and made my way down to the pier to spot a penguin or two!

Amusement park in St. Kilda

Amusement park in St. Kilda

With the oldest operating rollercoaster of this type (or so I'm told)

With the oldest operating rollercoaster of this type (or so I’m told)

Along the rocks on this jetty is a penguin colony

Along the rocks on this jetty in St. Kilda’s is a penguin colony

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There is a small section of the jetty that is open to the public to view the penguins.  Volunteers walk up and down this area providing information.  The penguins go out to sea just before sunrise to fish and come back home just after sunset.  Their main predators are birds, which don’t hunt at night, so the penguins come to and from home under the safety of night.  The area that is open to viewing by the public on a typical night will have about 200 penguins appear, but tonight we only spotted 4 penguins.  The volunteers mentioned that it is getting close to mating season, so the penguins may be spending multiple days at sea to fish and stock up.  It was still neat to see and completely free, so worth checking out when in the area!

A little penguin at St. Kilda's pier

A little penguin at St. Kilda’s pier

 

The following day I was booked for another tour.  The first stop was at Moonlit Sanctuary where I got my first upclose and personal contact with some of the creatures Australia is known for:

Koala

Koala

 

Wombat

Wombat

Not sure what this guy is, but I liked his green beak!

Not sure what this guy is, but I liked his green beak!

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

The same kangaroo with a couple peeps from my tour group

The same kangaroo with a couple peeps from my tour group

 

And my all time favourite so far – the Wallaby!!!!

Not shy at all about getting food! :)

Not shy at all about getting food! :)

 

They would hold on to your fingers with their tiny paws. It was SO cute! They were a bit skittish when the ducks came around

They would hold on to your fingers with their tiny paws. It was SO cute! They were a bit skittish when the ducks came around

A wallaby closeup

A wallaby closeup

And a wallaby selfie

And a wallaby selfie

 

After pulling ourselves away from the wallabies, our tour group continued the drive down to Phillips Island for the Penguin Parade.

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In order to try to keep this experience natural and not scare or frighten the penguins, pictures are not allowed.  However, you can probably search google for pics or videos if interested.  This one was pretty reflective of what we saw.

The Phillips Island penguin colony (about 32, 000) is much larger than that at St. Kilda’s (about 1,000).  And this colony also has to do a bit more land travel to get to their homes, so you get the opportunity of watching them waddle on land!  It was pretty spectacular to watch.  Just after sunset, you start to see a couple of penguins pop up at the shoreline and then within seconds there will be close to a hundred penguins forming a wave coming out of the water!  They waddle up the beach together as a group (safety in numbers), come inland a bit where there is a pile of rocks to climb over.  On the rocks the majority of them stop to clean their feathers a bit and then they hop down the rocks and waddle their way to their burrows and homes.  I was told when they get to their homes they have a quick nap (a few minutes) and then come out of their homes to socialize (rather vocally I might add)!  This whole process continues in wave, after wave, after wave in what appears to be a very organized penguin posse!