Saturday, 5 January 2013

MELBOURNE - Of Wombats, Koalas and Penguins

Yarra River

After the long slow train ride  through New South Wales countryside from Sydney,  we arrived Melbourne early evening. We were hosted to a Persian dinner by the relatives of my former office mate in a quaint restaurant in one of Melbourne's streets. It was early to bed for us after the dinner as we have a full 1st day in Melbourne.

Awesome Day 1:

Yarra River from Southbank
Morning was free so we did a DIY rush tour of Melbourne. Walked to State Library, Tram ride around the City. Stroll towards Yarra River and Eureka Skydeck 88 and Federation Square. The beauty about exploring Melbourne (or any other 1st world city) is the availability of free (or almost free = cheap fares like $1/24hr) rides to major tourist sights. Boy,  are we glad to take in the sounds, sights, smell and hulaballoo of Central Melbourne at practically no costs!

Melbourne streets

View from the Southbank
Clockwise: Federation Square; Indian Festival @ Fed Square; Skydeck; NGV
View from Skydeck with the Olympic Complex and Melbourne's Art Centre with its "tutu" roof spire
St. Paul's Cathedral, Flinders St.

Flinders St., Melbourne, Australia
After a quick lunch at Southbank, the afternoon was spent at the Phillip Island for the Penguin Parade.

We passed through St. Kilda St. on our way to Warrook Cattle Farm in  Gippsland Region.  A 100-year old, 300-acre working farm and homestead with a fauna park that features wallabies, ostrich and wombats. Oh we had fun interacting with the animals, especially the smart wallabies, who like to go near people in the hopes of being fed. A true-blue Aussie farm experience!

Warrook Cattle Farm

Warrook Cattle Farm
After Warrook, we proceeded further down south to the Koala Conservation Center at Phillip Island. Part of the Phillip Island Nature Park, the Center is a reserve built to research, protect and promote awareness of the native Australian koalas. An environmentally and Koala-friendly enclosure with boardwalk was built along gumtrees to ensure one can have an  up-close and personal experience with one or more of these Australian animals in their own natural habitat.

Koala Conservation Center

Koalas up close and personal
Find out about what they eat and many more
Before proceeding to the highlight of this tour, we explored the island. You know you are, indeed, in Australia, when, while during your drive, you see wallabies...and kangaroos(!) near the roadside or just over there near the grounds of one of the houses on a hill.  And if you are at it, ask your driver to honk its horn and see what happens. Amazing!

Stopped to marvel at Phillip Island's rugged south coast.

Phillip Island rugged coast

A sunset walk @ Phillip Island

Souvenir shot @ Phillip Island
The trip to Phillip Island to see real penguins in their natural habitat (and not in a four-corner glass box) was an unforgettable experience. Aside from the biting cold, Gia and I had a great time seeing those penguins appear at the shoreline, and following them as they walk back to their homes. We even named  one, "Pengu",  and followed it until it reached its "hole-of-a-home". Photos are not allowed here so no photos at all of the penguins. Photo here of penguins was lifted from the internet.

The only photo you are allowed to take. Cameras will have to be deposited.
Photo courtesy of :

After the whole experience, Gia and I could not stop talking about it. You should see the excitement on her eyes everytime she recalls the experience. One of those moments you will forever treasure.

Yes, we are loving Melbourne!..and it is only Day 1!

Check out my other posts on Australia: 

Day 2 Melbourne - Going for Gold! 

The Majestic 12 Apostles of Victoria, Australia

Through the New South Wales countryside

Four days in Sydney

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