two australian attractions that i have been anticipating since my arrival: footy (aussie rules football) and the penguin parade on philip island.
footy – australia’s game.
so it’s absolutely nothing like hockey or american gridiron but it is a sport that encompasses all the traits that comprise sport: patriotic pride, overzealous fans and intense competition. to me, i felt like i was watching an obscure combination of european soccer, gaelic football and american fuseball. complicated rules that clearly went over my head i still appreciated the experience of beer, meat pies and boisterous bogon, blokey fans. it might not be like an afternoon at the ballpark, but for these aussie fans, footy is the game to be at.
phillip island is absolutely gorgeous. a quaint little town called cowes is where we stopped for the classic seaside meal of fish and chips. then it was off to see a live portrayal, literally, of the march of penguins. it’s a bit of an odd cliché tourist attraction at first. you actually have to pay a $20 admission and then you walk a boardwalk down to the ocean where a bunker of cement bleachers have been crafted for spectators to rug up on. for an additional $60 though you can be escorted by a park ranger to a secluded part of the beach for a private, exclusive viewing.
being as i am canadian and penguins are not a foreign species to my native land, i began to question why i am sitting here exploiting yet another natural habitat, playing the role of kitchy tourist at what is dubbed ‘victoria’s most visited destination’.
slightly ashamed, i patiently wait for dusk to settle and for the penguins to emerge from the water. then, within moments my cynicism rushes away as a i let out a faint sigh of amazement. before me are hundreds of tiny midnight blue and white penguins. they gather in bunches on the shoreline and then in unison, in a moment of planned synchronization, the birds waddle up the sand, to the grass, seeking refuge in their burrows. the air fills with this mild cat-like quack as the penguins scatter amongst themselves to safety.
the walk back from the beach to the main pavilion is an experience in itself as i am able to see the birds from the boardwalk. tempted to pick one up and take it home with me, i stop to watch the adorable little wonders flicker through the grass as they say goodnight.
photography is prohibited throughout the parade but that is okay because this exotic march of the penguins, this experience so close to nature, is entirely memorable. and so what if it only cost $20. the lasting image of parading penguins ended up to be priceless after all.