Today we drove up to Rockingham and got the ferry across to Penguin Island - a small, uninhabited nature reserve island. We visited the Discovery Centre, where they have a few rescued penguins - this meant that we finally got to see the Little Blue penguins that eluded us in New Zealand, although they are called Fairy penguins here (same species). They are the smallest species of penguin in the world and they're very cute. Some of the penguins here are able to be treated, rehabilitated and released into the wild but some are not. There were some great stories of penguin life too - like the old female whose partner of 11 years died recently and they expected her to be heartbroken but within 24 hours she had a new mate! There are also a pair of penguins who are both male - they've also been together for 11 years and make a nest every year (which obviously stays empty), but last year the centre had an abandoned egg so they gave it to the male couple and they hatched and successfully raised a chick that has since been released into the wild (very similar to the lovely kids "Tango Makes Three" story of Chinstrap penguins in Central Park Zoo if any of you know that). One of the penguins, Kevin, was particularly vocal and Solana loved talking to him - for such little animals they can be surprisingly loud. Afterwards we went on a walk around the island and tried to see the wild penguins but they are nesting at the moment and we didn't manage to find any... We did see lots of nesting gulls though - who demonstrated their parental protectiveness by flying very low and squawking at us loudly and later by trying to steal our picnic! We also went on a boat trip where we saw Australian Sealions (apparently the rarest species of sealion in the world), pelicans (including some with chicks), osprey and a group of bachelor bottle-nosed dolphins - a great trip.
This afternoon we went to a nature reserve at Mandurah estuary for a walk. We didn't see as many birds there as we'd hoped but we did unexpectedly see a few kangaroos! We also unexpectedly drove past a few wineries and thought it only polite to call in and do a tasting at one of them - the wines were great and our budget took another hit with a couple of purchases. We think maybe Solana now knows a bit too much about wine for a 4 year old - the other day she asked us for a drink of "cloudy bay apple juice" (she meant cloudy apple juice)!Read more