Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marsupials, Marsupials and more Marsupials

On tuesday we went to the Phillip Island day tour with a small tour company. Here's their promotional video. We got picked up at noon from downtown on a bus with about 15 people or so. First off, let me apologize for the lack of photos, we're still shopping for a good digital camera! Email us if you have any recommendations.

It started off with a wine tasting at a small winery... meh.

Then we went to an animal sanctuary that had a bit of a feel like an amateur zoo. Apparently a week ago the main place they go to burned down. When Christine asked the tour guide which place was better he replied "Well, they're both a bit weird", which was kind of true. It all reminded me of in Tucson of a roadside attraction called The Thing?, somewhat derelict, a bit kooky, but real elements of what was actually advertised.

The first stop in the sanctuary was a little cave where they kept the Wombats. A guide was holding a wombat that we were able to touch. We recoiled in horror a bit when all the other tourists mobbed the baby wombat, flashing pictures in its eyes and rubbing it all over. One british lady was really trying to get her money's worth with the wombat (one joke we heard was that $5, you could look at one, $20 you could pet one, $100 you could hunt one). Apparently the flashing doesn't bother them at all, unlike Penguins but more on that later. We gave in at the end and petted the wombat and you can kind of see why cats are kept as pets and wombats not. A bit like a hedgehog.

We also walked out into a field where there was a family of kangaroos of all shapes and sizes, about 20 or so. Even had tiny 'roos in the pouches of their mother. The kangaroos were mostly napping as we walked up to them. They would eat out of our hands so when we approached you could get an "ok, time to go to work, lets get this started" vibe from the kangaroos. The way they stretched and scratched themselves was unspeakably cute and a tad anthropomorphic. We could also feed some emus by hand but they're more pecky and not so blissed out as the kangaroos. We saw a koala from a distance in a tree. Christine kept haggling with the staff on how much she could pay for the koala (not for sale, no matter how much foot stomping happened). I saw a giant earthworm... A llama didn't want anything to do with me... There was a parrot who would only say hello when I walked away, etc etc....

Yet in some strange way it worked. So much in life, if you asked "what would you think if we put X,Y and Z together and wrapped it in chicken wire and piped in music", you might think you wouldn't like it... But once you're somehow plunged into something like that, all you can do it be amused at how surreal it is. That's a good thing I think.

But the highlight I would have to say (and I'm cutting out some boring parts where we had tea... and a not bad part where we ran down to the ocean) was the Penguins on Parade, described as Australia's most popular wildlife attraction... From their webpage: "Each night at sunset, the world’s smallest penguins, the Little Penguins, emerge from the sea and waddle ashore to their sand dune burrows. This is a truly memorable natural wildlife experience." No kidding! You go out to some bleachers on the beach and at sunset thousands of penguins come up on shore, shake them selves off, do a bit of preening and then waddle off along side a boardwalk to their homes. ~40 minutes non-stop of penguins going by about 10 feet away. Heartachingly cute. Like japanese cartoon cutesy cute with the peeping and falling down and the nose rubbing and so on.

On the way home they gave us some personal movie players (I want to say it was a sony psp?). I watched Priscilla Queen of the Desert, filmed in AUS. The "finally" scene was great, the emu hats made me laugh out loud. Christine watched a video documentary about Tasmanian Devils and she said that she felt like she found her species. Maybe she'll write about that herself.

Anyhow, it was a full day and the next day we barely had the energy to take a water taxi from Williamstown to downtown and then go win a heap of money at the Crown Casino. In Williamstown we were checking out sailing clubs. Not quite sure what we were expecting to find from the "Royal Yacht Club of Victoria", but it was a bit too pinkys-out for our taste.

We'll see, I'm sure we'll be out on the water in no time!


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