Saturday, June 9 (Part Cinq)

Finally, it was on to the cliffs and shoreline where the Little Penguins live – the smallest of all the species of penguins. It’s nesting season for the little guys, so the adults go into the ocean to gather fish during the day and then bring it back to land.  Each little penquin has its own nesting burrow in the side of the huge cliffs overlooking the beach. The burrows are either naturally created by the penquins under shrubs or some of the burrows are made by the Australian Wildlife Service out of wood.  Here is a human created burrow and if you look very, very closely, you can see a little head inside.

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We were able to walk around the seaside cliffs on the very safe boardwalk prior to heading over to the main viewing area for the dusk parade of the penquins coming up out of the ocean, waddling across the open (and dangerous for them) beach, and then up the hill they come to find their burrows.  The shoreline here is very dangerous with big crashing waves and large outcroppings of rocks.

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And a shot of most of the group at the end of the boardwalk:

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With a special, windblown edition of Alyssa and Rachel:

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On the previous night, there were a little over 1,900 penquins counted, and I’m sure we saw equally as many.  It was an awe inspiring sight as the swales and ravines around the viewing grandstands filled with squawking, wobbling little penquins. Visitors are not allowed to take photos, as they don’t want to scare the penquins into returning to the ocean, but I think that most of us picked up a postcard or two to bring home.

At the end of the day, we were all very tired, but what a wonderful day we had!

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Saturday, June 9 (Part Quatre)

After the Maru park, we stopped briefly for lunch at San Remo, a quaint little seaside town. While the students ate, Kathy, Stephanie and I walked over to the fishing pier, looked down in the clear water and saw the biggest stingrays I’ve ever seen in my life.  Even, Kathy, the experienced diver was awed at the size of these guys.  She estimated their size from wingtip to wingtip at 5-6 feet across. I would have said 8 feet, but what do I know? And there they were, just a few feet below us, gliding along in the shallow water of the channel. Amazing! I would not have wanted to get these guys upset with me as Steve Irwin obviously did….

After lunch, the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory was our next stop, where we stopped to see how chocolate is made and engaged in way too much chocolate buying (except for Josh – I think he’s the only one who didn’t buy ANY chocolate.)

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Of course, YouDee got rowdy after his morning of singing, and he ended up flying into one of the chocolate pod trees…..Get down, YouDee, or you’ll have to stay on the bus at the next stop!

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Panny is the man who started the chocolate factory and here he is, still making chocolate!

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It was a cute little stop, but I don’t think Hershey has anything to worry about!

After lunch, we stopped briefly for our first look at a real Australian surfing beach.  Woolamai beach was gloomy and overcast, but there were still three young intrepid surfers in their wetsuits. 

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We convinced them to take a picture with us.  Several of the girls decided to hang ten with their shoes off, and unfortunately Alyssa got caught by a wave and lost her camera in the surf.  Our first major casualty of the trip! 

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Saturday, June 9 (Part Trois)

Still at Maru Park. We called these guys the twins and the one on the left was a hungry little bugger. You better have a full handful of food when you feed him.

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Yardley did a good job of feeding Mr. Hungry without losing any fingers:

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Shelby was all about getting down to baby kangaroo level.  She was upclose and personal with this little baby roo:

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Being a city girl, Alexis was wary of getting too close to the wild things.  She did OK with the mammals:

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But, she was having nothing to do with the birds.  We finally convinced her to pose with this one:

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Meanwhile, Jeff was still hanging out in the Koala area:

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Saturday, June 9 (Part Deux)

Lots more pictures at the Maru park..

This was a mama kanga, and just before we got close to her, we saw her little joey hop back into her pouch.  If you look very closely, you can see his four little feet and a tail hanging out of her pouch.  Mama kangaroos can have up to three joeys of different ages that they are nursing with different types of milk at the same time.  And, we learned that any marsupial baby is called a joey, not just kangroos babies.

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Here’s a close up of the little feet and tail:

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Alyssa, Abby, Rachel and YouDee feeding the kangas:

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Josh doing his part:

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And Kelsey…..every time we turned around, Kelsey was surrounded by the kangas. She’s a natural:

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Saturday, June 9 (Part 1)

Today was ANIMAL DAY – the day that we were all looking forward to for months!  We had a tour bus waiting for us early in the morning and walked out of the hotel to meet our driver for the day, Lee. He was a terrific guy, an immigrant from Merry Old England, and involved with musical theater, so he was quite entertaining and a wonderful host for our day. Even YouDee went along and found a new friend.  Here’s YouDee singing on the bus with Lee’s pet, Percy the Penquin. 

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We left Melbourne on our way to Phillip Island to see the Little Penquins come up out of the sea at the end of a long day of fish gathering.  But, our first stop was a little animal park that was sort of like an Australian petting zoo, but with all Aussie animals.  It was great fun and our first experience with Kangaroos and Koalas up close. 

Kathy got the best picture of a Tasmanian Devil. We love his little toofs hanging out:

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Marisa feeding a wallabie (sort of like a smaller kangaroo):

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Kathy had a close encounter with a Koala……this is what Australian happiness looks like:

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And one of the round little girl up close:

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To be continued….

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Friday, June 8

So sorry that the blog hasn’t been updated in over a week. Our internet connection is very shaky and although text loads just fine on the blog, the problem has been with uploading pictures.  So, it’s Saturday now and hopefully all the Melbournians have left the Central Business District and taken their internet using devices with them.

So Friday, June 8 was an easy day.  Class in the morning and then a free afternoon.  A lot of our time during the past week has involved either school trips departing from the beautiful Flinders Street Station  or engaging in that other exquisite establishment just across the street from Flinders Street – the Lord of the Fries, which has the best “chips” yet to be found in Melbourne.

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My daughter, Stephanie, joined us today and will be with us the rest of the trip. She lives in Orlando and has just finished her masters, so this is her version of a Victory Tour. Kathy and I made her stay up all day, so we decided to explore the Soho/Bohemian section of Melbourne with us – Fitzroy.  It’s a kitchy, artsy section of the city.  Very fun! Here’s a picture of Stephanie and me posing behind a random street bench. 

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And, like all of Melbourne, street art is everywhere but is definitely pumped up in Fitzroy.  Here are some murals found on the sides of buildings there.  The first one even includes an image of Barack!

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Thursday, June 7 (Part Deux)

After our classroom experiences, we were treated to lunch by the school staff and then Dr. Warner and several of the Year 12 student captains (similar to prefects in Harry Potter) talked and did a Q&A with us about the school’s philosophy.

Eltham College is in the middle of one of the wine countries in the Yarra River valley. The school owns a number of vineyards, tended by a caretaker, but the students are actively involved in growing and harvesting the grapes in their horticulture class. Also attached to the school is a huge environmental nature preserve. During the morning, three of the students had the opportunity to go out into the preserve, and they saw KANGAROOS! So, of course, we ALL wanted to go see kangaroos. Incredibly, the vineyard caretaker, who lives on the property offered to take the whole group over as he said he had seen a “mob of kangaroos” just a little while earlier. So, off we trooped to see wild kangaroos.

We did see the mob, which I’ll post in the next blog, but then we did a little walkabout in the forest. Alexis, Nicole and Kate look lovely with the eucalyptus tree background, don’t you think?

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But, the woods were muddy and several of the girls still had their school shoes on. Rachel almost lost her shoes in the mud, but was able to save them:

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Adjacent to the environmental preserve is the HUGE cricket ground that is owned by the school. Both Cricket and Australian Rules Football (Footy as it’s called in Australia) are played on this pitch. There are four very tall goalposts at each end of the field that look exactly like the goalposts on the Quiddish pitch in Harry Potter. Hmmmm, I wonder where Rowling got that idea from? As we were returning to the bus, there was a Footy match going on:

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All in all another very successful school visit and we are sincerely appreciative of the wonderful Australian hospitality we have experienced.

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