(I am a little behind on recording my memories since the last few days were spent in a location remote enough that wifi wasn’t an option. We survived 😉 )
Cowes, Victoria was a sweet stop. The town is small, easily walkable with a friendly vibe, and our house is right off the main “drag”. Plenty of coastal scenery to explore, but our energy is waning a bit. We have accepted that we cannot hit all of the potential stops in most of our locations now, but instead must savor a few and save everyone’s moods for the long haul.
One evening we packed a picnic dinner and headed to the Penguin Parade. In the past there were nine or ten penguin colonies on Phillip Island; now only one remains and it remains only because the area was turned into a reserve and the roads are closed at night so they cannot get hit. These are the smallest species of penguin, the “Little Penguin”. We got to come into the area just before sunset and saw a few wallabies and possums on the walk through the reserve down to the beach.
Sunsets on a beach are always extraordinary. This would have been a gorgeous, and perhaps as ordinary as they can get, “beach sunset” until adorable tiny penguins started popping up out of the surf! With their day (or days) at sea done, we watched as they gradually appeared on the beach about a half hour after sunset.
One would pop out, pop back down, then maybe three more would appear. They would stand around and wait for several others and when somehow their group was complete they waddled all the way up the beach, heading to their nests made in holes in the ground. This happened over and over and over for about half an hour – groups between five penguins and maybe 30. As we slowly walked back up towards the visitor center, they were loudly chatting all around us on their commute and then visited with each other for a bit (a couple more romantically than others) before heading to bed.
A unique and special experience as we spied on nature, but possibly outmatched by looking up at the stars at the end of the night. It was still and completely clear; there is not much around there as far as light pollution, and I can’t recall ever seeing a sky so dense with stars. Perhaps they don’t exist much anymore.
Earlier that day we had the misfortune of having our foreign credit card refused at a promised milkshake stop. Two lovely ladies struck up a conversation by offering to pay for the kids’ treats! Such kindness of strangers – they felt so bad for our poor milkshakeless boys – but we assured them we would immediately head to the grocery store for ice cream and that the boys are far from deprived. They then gave us a multitude of recommendations, the first being the Penguin Parade, and “Rug up! Rug up the kids” – they must have warned us ten times. By their description of the winter wear we could purchase at the dollar stores, “rugging up” is apparently bundling up for the deep damp cold by the ocean at night.
Our last day in Cowes we briefly checked out the Antarctic Journey – exhibits and info on all things Antarctic – before taking a gorgeous walk along the coastline referred to as the Nobbies, which looks out into the Bass Strait.
Next: Port Arthur, Tasmania. The flight over was only an hour and the drive to our little vacation house labelled “the Shack” was just over an hour. It was a stressful little journey only because of the amount of roadkill that read like a sad who’s who of the Australian animal world and my back seat drivers warned me continuously that if I ran over an endangered Tasmanian Devil they would be so so mad.