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  • Day150

    Philip Island

    March 9 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Bun has been to PI years ago and remembers watching the Fairy Penguins 🐧 walking up the beach onto the sand dunes where they nest. Forty five years later we will see what’s changed.

    Pelican feeding takes place at Sam Remo, just before the bridge to the island. Compared to the pelican crossing at The Entrance, where there were maybe over fifty pelicans, there were nine today. Pelicans are such strange birds it’s lovely to watch them.

    On to the koala sanctuary that is different from the others we have been to. The koalas live in as close to their natural environment as possible and boardwalks allow visitors to walk in amongst the trees giving a better view of the koalas. It was good.

    Just off Philip Island is a smaller island called Churchill Island that has become a heritage farm with displays of milking cows, shearing sheep, sheep dogs working etc. It has some of the oldies buildings in the area that have been preserved and kept as houses and barns from the mid-late 1800s.

    The names of towns on Philip Island are the same as on the Isle of White. The main town is Cowes, there is also Ventnor. Another town Rhyll.... well I’m not sure why that’s on the island. The IOW place names reminded me of the walk I did with my brothers and sister plus partners in 2018. I think that Philip Island would make a good choice for our next challenge.

    Rhyll has a boardwalk along through the mangrove swamps. When we arrived we came across a couple of the Philip Island wallabies that are different from the rest of the mainland. Unfortunately the boardwalk was shut for maintenance ☹️ so we walked as far as we could and then back through the parkland next to the estuary.

    As the bank holiday is over we are expecting an easier time getting a campsite. We drove in, looked around and took pitch No 80. I can’t imagine there were 80 pitches on the campsite, but I wasn’t going to argue. We then set off to find some dinner before going to the penguin parade.

    Fort five years ago Bun walked onto the beach at dusk and watched the penguins come out of the sea and walk up to the sand dunes. Today you have to pay to watch this natural sight. These dyes there can be between 1,000 and 4,000 spectators who all congregate in the information building before dusk “at least an hour before” were our instructions, but we were 30 mins late. Why an hour? So you buy refreshments and souvenirs. Had we known how cold it was going to b, we may have bought woolly hats and gloves, but we didn’t.

    A series of boardwalks lead the visitors to the beach and a series of bleachers either side of an entrance that the penguins would walk up. Photography is banned. The seats face south and as we looked out to sea we realised the next landfall was Antarctica. As the wind blew and the tears rolled down my face I found difficulty finding the enjoyment waiting for these 12” high penguins.

    The first four arrived in the surf, grouped together and then waddled up the beach. A few minutes later another eight gathered in the surf and hesitantly waddled up the beach. Just as they were nearing the dunes, one of them ran back to the sea meeting another group who were gathering at the edge of the surf. I don’t know what was said but they all ran back into the sea. That group of penguins started walking up the beach and then running back to the sea, each time collecting a few more to their group. Eventually they made it all the way up to the dunes. The excitement was riveting... or maybe it was the cold that kept me staring out to sea. As more penguins arrived we could hear more calls from the penguins waiting for their partners to come home and the young waiting to be fed. We wandered back down the boardwalks watching the small penguins waddle over the dunes looking for their nests and families. As we got back to Berna and put the heating on full, I wondered why I’d bothered to have the air conditioning re-gassed over Christmas? All part of the excitement.

    Back at the campsite we were committing heresy arriving so late (9:45). Most people would be asleep. Being a truck, Bertha has reversing warning sounders, how to be popular.

    We hooked Bertha up to the electric to find that the supply didn’t work. I tried another two sockets before deciding this was a matter for the site manager. The manager could be summoned by a telephone outside the site office ... it went to a message but no option of leaving a message asking someone to come and sort the electric out. Someone appeared on the balcony above me and, in response to my problem, told me that only one of the four sockets work, I’d have to move the plug about until I found the working one. As I’d already tried three of the four, finding the working one was not difficult. I asked why he didn’t put a notice on the supply, “yeh” was the response. I guess most people arrive before the office shuts and he doesn’t have to get up from watching TV to sort the problem. Off to bed.
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