A Visit to Melbourne and A Penguin Parade

by Brian Carroll on May 23, 2012

Following a week in Tasmania, I boarded another flight, this time to Melbourne.  Whereas Sydney may be associated more with glitz and glamour in Australia, Melbourne appears to have claimed the artsy, European identity.  In fact, if you wander through the streets of the city, you will find lots of unique graffiti art that seems to reflect the diverse personality of the city.  Somewhat related, here's a random site I actually stumbled on that has some pretty cool graffiti art. After spending one night in the city centre and checking out a meetup for drinks at a local bar, I spent the rest of my time staying in the St. Kilda area, which I had heard good things about.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't look like an inviting entrance...

As one person described the area, "It is where the rich people come to act poor."  Basically the area is a very eclectic crowd and if I could compare it to anything, it'd be Venice Beach in California.  Now while the neighborhood crowd wasn't necessarily my cup of tea, it was cool to put myself in a different environment.  Plus at the hostel I stayed in, I met a couple pretty cool people. Additionally, while I was in St. Kilda I was able to meetup with Min, a friend-of-a-friend of mine I had been in touch with since I started traveling.  She had just moved to Melbourne a few months prior and we ended up grabbing drinks a couple different nights, including for a celebration of Cinco de Mayo -

Nadie gusta sombreros aqui!

by the way, nobody in Australia celebrates Cinco de Mayo...so wearing a sombrero in a bar definitely made me stand out. One of the things I really enjoyed during my time in Melbourne was taking an all day excursion out to Phillip Island where they have what is known as "The Penguin Parade."  The excursion had many opportunities to interact and see local wildlife. To begin, the tour took a group of us to an animal sanctuary where we had the opportunity to feed wallabys, meet a Koala named Gumbo and check out various other animals including tasmanian devils, wombats, dingos and emus.  Following this excursion, we visited a traditional farm where we saw how sheep were sheered and sheepdogs were trained - pretty cool! The culmination of the tour though was "The Penguin Parade" which is the area's most famous attraction.  Essentially, Phillip Island is home to an abundance of blue penguins that stand about a foot in height.  After a day of swimming and feeding, the penguins return to the beach for a night's sleep. Now what makes this unique is the abundance of penguins.  About every 5 minutes around dusk, as you look out at the beach, you'll all of a sudden see a pod of about 25 penguins appear from the sea (with one brave penguin leading in front of the pack to ensure there are no dangers).  The entire group then waddles across the beach and into the brush where their nests are. Now you can take this one instance and multiply it by about 20, as there are probably about 400+ penguins who come waddling ashore over an hours time.  The audience watches this in the stands and then is able to walk through a number of boardwalks where the penguins waddle right next to you, completely comfortable with all the human onlookers. It's a site to see but unfortunately, they don't let you take pictures at the event, so you'll just have to take my word for it or go check it out for yourself.  The best I could do was this picture of one of the main posters to give you a sense.

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