Our fourth day in Melbourne began with a couple hours of much needed down time. A few slept in after breakfast and some of us headed back to the market for further exploration and souvenir shopping. After our break, we all met up with our Go West tour guide Leah to leave for our Phillips head island adventure.
We began our tour at Brighton Beach not too far from the hostel. Brighton Beach is famous for its collection of brightly colored beach boxes, (try saying that three times fast!) The beach boxes were originally used in the 1860’s for change rooms. Since it wasn’t yet socially acceptable for women to just walk around in their bathing suits, they would walk to these boxes in their clothes, change, go for a swim, change, and go about their day. Once these boxes lost their use, they began to deteriorate until Brighton Beach gathered them up in the 1920’s. The boxes were moved to one spot along the beach and painted, which quickly became a tourist attraction. The boxes are individually owned, painted, and used by locals as beach storage. Like most beach properties, ownership of the boxes is quite pricey. Recently, one of these beach boxes was sold for $500,000 Australian dollars!
Our next stop on the tour was another animal sanctuary, where we were able to pet and feed baby kangaroos and wallabies. The park was also home to other animals such as birds, geese, wombats, snakes, and koala bears.
Our last stop and highlight of the tour was Phillip Island, where we were able to see the penguin parade. Before it became famous for its habitation of little penguins, Phillip Island was discovered by George Bass, one of the first British men to sail unto Western Port. Originally, the penguins were not protected because no one knew they were there! Later in the 1950’s, after they gathered attention, the little penguin burrow habitat was made a protected nature reserve in order to save their homes. It soon became an actual park to watch the penguins come in from the ocean at night while still protecting their habitat. The little penguins are blue and white for camouflage and make their nests underground in burrows. They leave in the morning when the sun rises to eat fish and come back at sunset in huge packs called parades. This is to protect themselves from their predators-foxes and snakes. We were able to sit right at the edge of the water and watch them glide onto the beach in the waves. They came in groups of 2 to 12 and would waddle at amazing speeds up to the rocks. While sitting and watching for penguins, we saw a wallaby running through the waters edge, and all of a sudden it came right at us. Emily actually had to donge out of the way in order to avoid being jumped on! It flew right through the crowd, and the park ranger said he'd never seen anything like that happen before, so apparently we were in the right place at the right time.
Overall it was a fabulous day and we witnessed some pretty cool stuff. Three more days to go!