Kicking off our Phillip Island day, our Go West Tour bus escaped the cloud front that wrapped up Melbourne and headed east to the picturesque holiday spot Phillip Island. The target of the day was to taste the delicious produce the island has to offer, gaze over the amazing coastline and see lots of native wildlife with the highlight being the world famous penguin parade on Phillip Island. And we certainly were not disappointed.
Australian Survival Course
Our first stop of the day was the Rhyll Bush Tucker and Trout Farm at the North East of Phillip Island. After stuffing ourselves with fresh trout and beef sausage rolls with bush tucker flavouring and veggies, we headed to the bush tucker walk just outside the restaurant. You see, bush tucker is the food the original owners of Australia prepared. All the ingredients were found in nature and the most boring looking plants could make for amazing flavours.
Take for instance the crimson bottlebrush found in the south eastern part of the continent. Soaked in water, the bottlebrush was turned into a sweet drink. Several other plants could also be made into beverages, mostly teas with the round leaf mint for a fresh peppermint taste or the Cape Barren Tea Plant for a jasmine related taste. We got to taste and smell many of these flowers and I wish I could have just taken a few with me. But the border regulations are pretty strict in Australia, so I was not going to push it.
Of course, the original bush tucker food was not solely vegetarian. Aborigines also hunted native wildlife but since we were not doing that, we instead had a glimpse at the trout basin and lakes. At the farm here, it is actually possible to catch your own fish and get them served directly. That sounds rather exciting (better than to do it yourself, certainly).
Of Koalas and Coastlines
After that, we stopped by the regional koala reserve, where koalas lived wild in the bush but were protected by steel walls from predators that could decimate their numbers. We saw about 10 of them, mostly dozing high up in the trees but three of them were actually close to the touch. Just don’t do it, though. Each Australian state has their own regulations when it comes to koalas. In Queensland they are the smallest due to the hot weather and holding them is allowed, in New South Wales touching is the maximum and for Victoria there is no contact permitted whatsoever.
After seeing the cuddly marsupials up close and filling our knowledge gaps in the information centre, we sought to replenish our energy level at the Phillip Island Winery. Here, we were treated to some locally produced wines as well as different kinds of cheese with an extra little special being a special confiture of wine. Those who know me can probably guess that my table’s cheese platter diminished rather quickly, it was just too delicious and the others were too consumed in the wine tasting while I enjoyed my orange juice. And cheese.
The vineyard was a really nice spot with large meadows, decorative hay stacks and a cute farm dog. And so I took a nice stroll around to shake my legs before driving off to the next spot. It should be noted that the drives around the Island are not terribly long and are exactly suited to a nice day trip. But it was nice to just stand in the fresh air, even though the wind picked up quite a bit and sent a chilly blow all around me.
Penguin Sneek Peek
Earlier, we headed out to pyramid rock to take in the view over the marvellous coastline the island has to offer before stopping by the Nobbies to get an even more incredible sight for our curious souls. Here, the volcanic remnants of the island’s creation are best visible with crazy rock formation poking out of the water and causing the roaring waves to crash with thunder.
One area is particularly affected and this has caused a huge blowhole to appear. Watching the water forces in action here is truly spectacular. Where was the popcorn? Add to that the insane colour patterns of the low growth on top of the cliffs, which reminded me of New Zealand. Peter Jackson would have delighted in the cacophony of exploding colours and I could almost see a hobbit peek over the horizon.
Getting ready for tonight’s show of the penguin parade, we tried to get a peek into some of the hundreds of penguin boxes, which our knowledgeable tour guide showed us. I spotted three and was happy that I could takes pictures because there are no photos or videos allowed at night time since any accidental flash could cause a severe damage to the penguins’ feeling of safety and belonging. They might get so scared as to never come back, swim into the wide open mouths of predators or forget to feed their babies. We don’t want that happening. So please respect that.
Waiting for the Waddle
With the wind blowing in our face, salt spray on our lips and our minds eager for nature’s spectacle, we headed over to the penguin centre, secured as the best seats and bought ourselves dinner to get ready. Speaking of seats, the best option in the common are is to sit on the lowest steps on the far right. For the penguins plus platform, it is the basically the same.
The difference between the platforms is, of course, the price as well as the proximity of the penguins. You might just see the world’s littlest penguins pop up and disappear on the main platform but with the plus option they will walk literally right beside the platform. After seeing them magically appear in a massive group out on the shore and watching them rest for a bit in the dunes before waddling off, feel free to follow them along and magically watch them find their burrows.
We were reluctant to leave the little penguins but they were taking their time to waddle home and we needed to head off as well, plus it was getting chilly. So if you go to Phillips Island, be aware that islands are always prone to lots of coastal winds and chilly nights and be sure to pack a warm jacket. I do encourage you, however, to come to Phillip Island and see this beautiful part of Victoria yourself. There are many things to go to but I really liked the selection we had on our Go West Tours trip and am really happy I could do it.
I would like to thank Go West Tours for having me on their Phillip Island Tour and showing me around this wonderful place in Victoria, Australia.
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