Our last expedition in Victoria, after Melbourne, was to head out to Phillip Island (‘nothing between us and Antarctica”) for the Penguin Parade: the nightly migration of fairy penguins (they’re small. What were you thinking?) from the sea up to their little cement bunkers and burrows in the surrounding hills. I hope you’ll pardon the pictures for this post; they are ripped from the internet (except for the obvious dreck, above) because photography is prohibited. After all, we don’t want to scare the little guys. Who’ve just been in the sea with LOTS of things that eat tiny penguins. And are now waddling up hills full of foxes that can devour 40 penguins in a single night. But photos? Too scary!
The penguins were slightly confused this particular evening because there was a gale force wind blowing at them from the shore which kept pushing them back into the sea. They’d struggle and struggle to get ashore and, once beyond the reach of the waves, they’d pause – then pull themselves up to their full 8” of height, and begin the long hill climb . Their ‘call’ is an adorable squeaky noise which helped explain why all the humans are fenced into bleachers during the migration – you’d be unable to stop yourself from picking one up and hugging it. As we watched (quietly, because noise scares them too.), each returning penguin waddled to its little bungalow where it would turn and face the sea, waiting patiently on his little cement patio for.. what? Noise? A flashbulb? It’s not like they couldn’t see us. I think they were waiting for us to go home. As we picked our way up the hill, our last view was of a vast hillside, speckled with tiny penguins, standing on their front porches, looking out to sea. And squeaking.,.
We spent the night on Phillip Island at our only B&B experience in Australia or New Zealand. The property, Cliff Top Cottage, was dramatically sited on a (surprise!) cliff top. This place was interesting for two reasons: the gale force winds made it impossible for us to go outside (or to sleep) and enjoy this enchanting setting and the indifference of the hosts caused us to invent a new category of lodging: B&A or, Bed & Attitude (in this particular case: BNB&A or, Bed, No Breakfast & Attitude). If you want details, I’ll have to tell you in person.