18/03/89

Penguins on Parade!

Russ drove us down to Phillip Island which is a large island about 130 km from Melbourne. Our first stop was on the way was the Fountain Gate shopping complex on the outskirts of the city where we spent an hour or so watching boring people wrapped in their boring lives bustling round in a large and very boring shopping centre. We described our time in that hell-hole as “An Enema Tour of the Asshole of Suburbia.”

After leaving there, we drove for an hour or so to reach the island. We went over a rickety old wooden bridge to Churchill Island which was lovely – sheep grazing beside an old homestead surrounded by old Macrocarpa trees with the sea shimmering all around.

Re-crossing the old bridge, we drove round to Cowes for a can of drink at the end of a pier rocking gently in the breeze with calm tranquil water lapping the piles & turning the rows of kelp washed up on the shore.

Back in the Mazda¹ again, we drove out to “The Nobbies” on the western end of the island. This place was really beautiful. The coastline of the island is rough & broken & comes to a point where 2 rocky islands rise out of the sea and and are home to penguins,

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Phillip Island Coastline.

seals & sea birds. The swells wash up around the black, rugged rocks, swirling and foaming into deep and treacherous pools and a blowhole foams and wooshes under the cliff. We spent an hour or so there then drove down to the penguin reserve to see the show.

The place was crawling with tourists, screaming babies, and generally boring people. We sat in a concrete grandstand facing out into a wide curving bay with gently breakers washing up onto the sandy beach. As the sky darkened and the horizon faded, the Southern Cross shone on the waves as groups of little blue and white Fairy Penguins struggled ashore. They had been at sea since the early hours of the morning and during the course of the day would have swum up to 50 km in their search for small fish.

They come out of the surf in small groups, being tumbled over by the waves time & time again before they stand out of reach of the water then begin their journey across the flood-lit stretch of sand and into the safety of the dunes. They are like little workmen coming out of a factory in their overalls, lunch-box in hand, standing round in groups saying “see you tomorrow” to their workmates then hurrying off in their own directions, bound for their own little street of burrows!

We left the penguins to their dark windy burrows and headed back to the city where people live in their own little streets of dark, windy burrows.

¹Russ’ car

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