Saturday's plan was to leave at 10 and drive out to Phillip Island. As we were getting ready to go, we found the car seat was snapped in two. It's one of those polystyrene ones, and it seems Shorty had been playing with it and somehow broke it. We still had the receipt as we'd only bought it a couple weeks prior in expectation of us getting the new car. We figured we'd bring it in and see what happened. Luckily ToysRUs just exchanged it with no questions asked - probably a bit dodgy of us but we went there on the slim hope they would exchange it and were prepared to buy another one if we were asked to. But still, there's a taint of guilt.
Phillip Island is just over an hour away and the weather was autumnal with a warm sunlight and light, cool breeze. We first stopped at Panny's Chocolate Factory because I'd read you could tour the factory and with memories of Hershey Pennsylvania in my head, my expectations were a tad disappointed as the high price for entrance only offered up a short 10 minute tour. Although we did see a statue of Michalangelo's David in chocolate, a full scale miniature town and railroad in chocolates and sweets and finally a full sized wall mural of Dame Edna made from individual chocs.
We went over the bridge to the island, looking out the skylight in our new car (Mazda 6 MPS vroomvroom) at flocks of birds I don't know what they were. Seeing fields of cattle we later realized featured in our Big Macs. and we arrived at Phillip Island Wildlife Park. We read that we would be able to feed lots of animals, but I hadn't expected so many of the animals to be free roaming. We saw wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, wombats all sorts of birds and finally dingoes. The extra bonus was that so many of the animals had mated early and there were babies everywhere! We saw kangaroo and wallaby joeys in pouches, and the black swans and Cape Barren Geese had goslings. It was strange to go to some of the aviaries and see cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets in cages when wild birds were flying free and taking advantage of the free meals. The caged cockatoos would talk back. We spent a lot longer there than we'd anticipated and I maxed out my camera card taking pictures. the light was just perfect and my camera had fresh batteries and all the pictures look good, the animals were awesome posers. The girls were a tad wary of the kangaroos after one snatched the whole bag of food from Shorty's hand and tore into it. I didn't get pictures of the dingo puppies which I'm really annoyed about because they were adorable. Photo list is here.
After the wildlife park, it was getting late and we wanted to head to the beach for the penguin parade at sunset. They say sunset, but the penguins wait for full dark. Phillip Island has Little Penguins, which are under a foot tall with navy blue backs and pearly white bellies. They gather in groups in the surf and once they feel they have a large enough group; because there's safety in numbers and these guys have a few natural predators on land, they make their way across the beach up into the grassy dunes where they keep their burrows. These animals are completely wild and not tame in any way, just doing what they've done for centuries and we get to sit on beachside bleachers and watch them. Although if you ever get to see them I hope you won't have a group of obnoxious tourists shouting and walking in front of you with toddlers on their hips the whole time like we did. It was really incredible. and then the dunes have a network of boardwalks so we could see them going in to nest, fight for territory and mate as 'tis the season for such penguin shenanigans. Photography and filming of any kind was strictly forbidden as it would freak out the birds and disturb their natural activity (As if the network of boardwalks and humans stomping about wasn't disruptive enough?) I think we should go again in a month or so and see if there are babies.
The best thing was the location on the beachside is pretty remote from the cities and there was hardly any light pollution and I got to see the Milky Way for the first time. I'd never seen the dust clouds before. It was a stunning sight, and I'm so happy the skies were clear for us.
The kids had an amazing day, they were overwhelmed and excited. On a high from start to finish. I can't wait for family and friends to come visit so we can take them there too.