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.
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.
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
With the oldest operating rollercoaster of this type (or so I’m told)
Along the rocks on this jetty in St. Kilda’s is a penguin colony
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
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:
Not sure what this guy is, but I liked his green beak!
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! :)
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
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.
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!