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Published: March 13th 2018
Melbourne -March 12, 2018 – Weather forecast: cloudy with a high of 20°C and a 20% chance of rain.
Today is Labour Day in Australia and that probably explains the mass of people we have encountered on the streets all day and night long over the weekend.
We are up early today as we have a full schedule that includes a morning tour of the city sights, with special stops at Fitzroy Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance. After a short afternoon rest the group is off to Phillip Island Nature Parks, about a two-hour drive from the city, to view the nightly parade of the Little Penguins. The Little Penguins are the smallest (2.2 lbs./1k & 12 in./30cm) of the 17 species of penguins and are the only penguins that have a permanent colony in Australia. To protect the penguins the park strictly prohibits any photography so if you want to see what these lovely creatures look like you can visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFkWfsUHtJw
Due to this being Labour Day our drive around the city went smoothly without the normal Monday morning traffic hassles. The city of Melbourne
Miniature Tudor Village
is a spreading metropolis covering more than 50 sq. kilometers, with a population of 4.2 million. Considering that there are 5.8 million inhabitants in all of the State of Victoria and the majority live here the rest of the state is sparsely populated.
At the Fitzroy Gardens we had a chance to get out and walk around the park. They have the home that Captain Cook grew up in on the grounds. The story was that a wealthy Australian purchased the house, had it carefully disassembled, each piece numbered, crated, transported to Melbourne and re-assembled.
The other fascinating aspects of the garden grounds was the Miniature Tudor Village which had been donated by the citizens of Lambeth England in thanks for the food donations sent to them from Victoria during the food shortages following World War 2. Close by was The Fairies Tree, a tree stump which had been carved with animals as a Fairy sanctuary.
The last portion of our morning’s expedition was a stop at the Australian Shrine of Remembrance, honouring the war dead from all the conflicts Australia as a nation has participated in from the First World
Fairy Tree carvings
War to now. Due to the annual Moomba Parade, bus access to the grounds was cut so the driver parked about 1.2 km from the site and gave us the option of walking there and back or just walking a short distance and take in the parade. I chose to visit the memorial while Brooke stayed closer to the bus to check out the large public square and art gallery building before the ride back to the hotel.
The Shrine was an imposing structure on a rise overlooking the city. It was specially constructed so that at 11 am on November 11th
the sun shone directly down onto a memorial plaque in the center of the building. The Shrine also incorporated an outside gallery affording one a spectacular view of the surrounding park and adjoining Victoria Gardens.
This afternoon we did a bit of repacking/re-weighing as we have to have our luggage set out for the porters to pick up at 6:30am and we have to make sure the weight distribution has not shifted. As our trip out to see the penguins will not likely get us back to the hotel until after midnight
Shrine of Remembrance
we thought it was wise to do some work now. We want to keep things on an even keel and not over our 23-kilo limit per bag.
The bus was waiting for us at 3:30 for our trip down to Phillip Island and our rendezvous with the penguins. As we made our way south there was a steady stream of holiday traffic heading back into the city. The driver dropped us off in Cowes for a chance to get some supper then we drove along the coast. Near the penguin preserve we had our first opportunity to see wallabies in the wild.
Heather, our Tour Manager had secured seating in the Penguins Plus viewing area, a smaller & closer venue, off to the right from the main seating area. Staff members assisted in seating as many as the stands could accommodate and then presented useful information about what we were going to witness. Then almost on cue two little fellows emerged from a burrow in front of the stands, flapped their wings and started to preen. Some of the penguins are starting to molt and cannot go to sea, but being social creatures came
out to welcome their neighbours home.
We watched and listened to the penguins for over an hour following them as they made their way up the surrounding hills to their burrows. It was an amazing experience. On the drive back to Melbourne everyone, except the driver, took the opportunity to have a snooze as we have to be up early tomorrow as we have a flight to Adelaide.
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