We spent some of the weekend down at Phillip Island. Why? Well, to get out of the city, see some countryside, watch the famous penguins waddle up the beach, that sort of thing. Also as a practice run for being away from home with the kids – we’ve got a three week family trip to Europe planned for next month. A short trip like this could provide a preview of the misery ahead!
Zooming down the South Gippsland Highway after lunch, we were soon out of Melbourne. We stopped for a break at a little town with the very wacky name of Koo Wee Rup. There didn’t seem to be a great deal there, but there was a small playground, which was enough to keep the kids amused for long enough for me to stretch my legs and get some feeling back into my posterior.
After another brief stop at the very Italian-sounding San Remo, we headed over the bridge to Phillip Island. It’s not a tiny island – not a tiny desert island like the ones you see in The Muppets and Sesame Street, with stranded Muppets and celebrity guests counting bananas. No, it’s a whacking great big island, maybe 20 kilometres across.
(Hey! My spell checker knows about Muppets!)
We found our abode for Saturday night, the Amaroo Park Youth Hostel. ‘Cos hey, you don’t have to spend a bomb to stay overnight somewhere. In fact, $45 got us a family room to ourselves, with plenty of beds to sleep all of us.
Then we set out to find the Penguins. Every night they stumble out of the water, up the beach and into their burrows, looking a little like a large group of commuters swarming out of the station during the evening rush hour. But commuters don’t have a huge audience of people who’ve paid $10 each to watch and take pictures.
I fail to understand how, after repeated requests in many and varied languages, some of the aforementioned audience could be so selfish as to continue using the flashes on their cameras. Maybe corporal punishment for the offenders could be the answer. And the Rangers could stomp on their cameras.
After dinner, we headed back to the hostel. The kids and L went to bed, and I sat in the lounge reading the paper and slurping down a VB – the beer, not the programming language. In a discussion with a visiting American watching the footy on the telly, we came to the conclusions that (a) NFL is a rather plodding game in comparison, with 10 seconds of play and then 50 seconds waiting around before more play; and that (b) maybe soccer hooligans act that way because they’re extremely bored while waiting for someone to score.
In the morning after breakfast we headed back towards Melbourne. We stopped at the Giant Earthworm display, intending to discover what fascinating wormy facts we could discover there, but it was too early, so we pressed on. Turning back onto the main road I timed how fast the car got from 0 to 100Km/h, which was 25 seconds. Okay, so our Magna may not be a Porsche 911, but that’s probably not bad for a five year old four cylinder family car once described as "a bathtub on wheels".
We also stopped at a roadside market near Tooradin, to pick up some bargain fruit, veg, fish and eggs, to eat doughnuts and climb the observation tower, which had a quite spectacular view of the surrounding swampland. We were back in Melbourne by lunchtime, almost 300Kms on the clock, and a stowaway penguin in the boot.