No English? No Problem!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Melbourne Part 2: Birds, Penguins, and one psychotic Santa Kanga

Melbourne's summer weather means that it's a great time to get outside and view the flora and fauna. This is also where I saw some of the most beautiful blooms I have seen.

So it was that part of our trip was a sort of nature retreat, away from the traffic and noise [and temptful shopping] of the city. For this, we took a day tour outside of the city to the Dandenong ranges, to feed birds, sit an old steam train and see the penguins on Philip Island.

Our first stop was the Dandenong ranges, a 'young' forest where the trees reached 6km into the air. :s [If those are young trees, I wonder about the old ones]

There we stopped for morning tea and scones [tasting like a slightly buttery muffin, but excellent with jam and cream] but the real draw for me was to feed the birds.

I like this part! The guide gets a bowl of bird seed, and you put some in your hand and let the birds eat out of it.Watch out for the white cockatoos, though! That bugger in the photo above became too greedy and bit my finger, thinking it was some kind of worm. Argh!

The cockatoos are really the big bullies of the playground. Every time people threw seed around, it would troop over in a big-boss kind of way and the little red and pink ones would scuttle in fear out of its path.

After the Dandenong ranges, our next stop was Puffing Billy.

This was not an exhausted bird, but rather an old steam engine ran by and preserved by volunteers.

The volunteer conductor who stayed in our carriage.

Now our carriage was probably a first-class carriage, since you can see from the photo above that there were seats for us, like in the Hogwarts Express. However, if you were flat broke and you had to sit in one of the cheaper carriages, you might end up in a tight squeeze during your ride. Or if you were too poor to buy tickets, you might try to hitch a free ride. In either case, you ended up sitting in the lower class carriages, like this:
See the legs???

The DF thought it a highly dangerous activity. Which is of course, why I thought it rather grand. :p

Then we stopped by an animal farm for a while, before heading to Philip Island.

Philip Island is a great place for animal-watching. The three most popular spots there are the koalas, the seals and the penguins.

Koalas are one of the laziest creatures alive. When you look at a gum tree, the koala is basically that lump of grey fur lodged in the crook between the branches. They spend their days stuck in the tree, chewing on nearby gum leaves, and only moving when the leaves around them are done and the nearest food is out of paw's reach.

I envy them. :(

How do you spot the koalas? You walk through the park and look at where everyone is pointing their cameras.

Bingo!!! Took all the powers in my camera to take this shot, they were that high up.

The next animals you try to see are the seals at Seal Rock. Although it must have been the wrong time or something, because when we went there, the only thing we saw were seagulls. The place should have been named Seagull Rock.

Nonetheless, the view of the rock is pretty good.

The only animals seen at Seal Rock. Sheesh.

However, I confess, I only went to Philip Island to look at penguins. The island is littered with penguin burrows, and every morning, the father goes out to sea with all his penguin dudes to look for food for the wife and kids. Then at night, they come back in huge groups to feed the kids. This nightly return is what tourists [like us] flock to Philip Island every night for.

Pic from

This is not my photo, because tourist photography is forbidden there. Reasons being that if you were to use your cam and the flash came on in the dim evening light, the flash would blind one of the poor critters.

This has more consequences than one flash-shocked penguin. The penguin could be blinded for life, and once that happens, it is unable make its way back to its burrow to feed its mate and kids. This means the whole family goes hungry for that night. And penguins mate for life, [no penguin divorce lawyers] so even if the mate doesn't come back, the wife doesn't look for a new man, but instead waits futilely for its own mate, even if they starve in the burrow. :(

Nonetheless, even with repeated warnings, there are still idiot tourists who will insist on taking their own shots of the penguins. And a couple of times, we saw a few heartbreaking scenes of dazed penguins wandering around after some dumbbell used a camera on him.

Boredslacker always advocates RESPONSIBLE TOURISM. Please always respect local rules and wildlife.

Else risk being killed by psychotic kanga killers.

No comments: