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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"The one with all the cute penguins..."

Yesterday had marked the end of the Easter's celebrations around the globe; which actually meant that our sweet sanction from work had finally lowered its curtains. Today might already be Wednesday, but the feelings of weekday blues still asunder in the air.

Alas, a lot of us made the most out of the holidays. As for me, the weekend was another opportunity to marvel at Australia's best tourist magnets - Philip Island. The outing had been planned more than a fortnight in advance, so it was understandable that everyone was every bit as anxious in anticipation of Friday's coming.

To digress, before I begin let me just humbly offer my ovation to our respectable driver for the whole two outings; Mr. Hafandi Ahmad - otherwise known as Fendi. God only knows how tiring driving hundreds of kilometres back and forth with idiosyncratic lunatics around can be, and his acceptance has been quite a numen, an umbrage that made our whole journey worthwhile. From the bottom of our (very small) hearts - Thanks Fendi, lain kali boleh jadi supir lagi ye.

Ok, now that that's out in the air to dissipate - let's begin shall we.

Our journey took ascend a brief Friday morning, when Fendi along with Najmie and Izza fetched our awesomely-rented Kia Grand Carnival onto the steps of University Mews. The four of us tucked in; Jimin, Mahathir, Mila and myself. Made our way to pick up Feezah at Main Road to complete the party of eight. With the help of Mr. NavMan (and a further 40 minutes later) we were en route towards the scenic Philip Island - a good two hours drive from Bundoora I'd say.

The whole journey was filled with laughter, endless tales and stories - flanked with miles and miles of serene plains that make up Southern Australia. A quick toilet-stop or two; we arrived at one of the locations worst hit by the gruesome Black Wednesday last Summer.

The location's name still escapes me, but as a whole it does look like the place's still recovering from the ordeal. Mass lands tarnished to brown and rusty burgundy dusts, croplands and vegetation laid ashed to the ground. It simply a view that humbles, a testament of how small we humans are in the hands of God Almighty. What took years of building and development, crumbled in nothing more than a weeks time. Things are getting better, but the scars shall remain an eminent fear that was, and still is global warming.

The streets were filled with traffic - laden of locals far and near making amends with the holidays which I'd only assume to tour the prestigious Philip Island as well. Our journey came to a brief half-and-hour halt as we found ourselves at the mercy of a long-hauled traffic jam. Anyways, thanks to a wonderful party that remained ever so cheery (I suspect from the coffee) the hurdle pleasantly passed and before we know it Philip Island was only a mere distance away.

Contrary to popular belief, Philip Island is indeed actually an island separated from mainland Australia by Westernport Bay. The island overlooks the Bass Strait, which further south would actually reach Antartica and the Southern Hemisphere artic circle. Entry into the island is through a 640m bridge reminiscent of Penang Bridge back home, which connects the town of San Remo and Newhaven.

The scenery accompanyng the ride into Philip Island was undeniably breathtaking. Almost as opus by itself, we were treated with beachside views of beatific horizons. Noon had set and the atmosphere was breezy cool. It was a perfect day to be out in the sun.

A few kilometres into the island, we were treated to a dose of Willy Wonka's many worldwide establishments, Philip Island Chocolate Factory. We made a quick stop under the aegis of our personal tour-guide Fendi himself, and after a few pictures here and there we we off again on what had turned out to be a sequacious serendipity of sorts. Too bad the chocolates were a bit pricey (being that it's all handmade) but I managed to leave with a mocha bar myself.

Philip Island is proportionately divided into a few areas of interest; and our next stop was first on the map - Churchill Island. This is actually a sub-island which is separated from Philip Island by another smaller, one-lane-only bridge. It is stated that Churchill Island houses one of the first establishments in the area, and within its confines are a homestead and working farm dating to the mid 1800s.

Figuring that we've been munching the whole journey inwards and some were already eyeing the sandwiches, a quick scenic drive into Churchill Island and we decided to make a pit-stop for something esculent and have lunch. Have I emphasized on how prodigious a view Churchill Island offered? Just absolutely stunning. Fendi, Jimin and myself had debated as to how nice a place it'd be to settle down and retire to.

A quick tour into the establishments, I was made aware that the homestead and farm is actually built by a Lt. James Grant and the small island found its name from his friend John Churchill, whom supplied all the seeds of corn and crops still gracing its soil till today. The homestead has been carefully taken after throughout the years, still preserving the initial furnitures and structures of the yesteryears. There was also a stable for making custom horseshoes embed with your name. Mahathir and Milla got one each. Me? I'd rather have my name embed on something I could wear instead.

Because it's a farm initially, you can't go far out without coming across sheeps or any form of livestocks. Kinda gives you a taste of how serene New Zealand would look like.

Lunch was served courtesy of Najmie, Izza, Mahathir and Milla whom took the effort to cook us a nice batch of fried rice and burgers. Food were plentiful and nice. Our lunch picnic was indeed a wonderful experience and everyone bonded very well, as if we've known each other for years.

We settled for a good hour-and a half before Fendi harassed us into getting back on the road for our next stop of the day, the Philip Island Koala Reserve. I'll keep mum on what exactly the reserve is for (hence the name) and let these pictures do the talking and description.

We are here, mainly for these fellas;

Pretty much nothing else walks these areas and are of any interest to us other than these lovely, cute cuddly wubbly koalas'. You'd have to see them live in action for yourself to appreciate the very existence of these wonderful animals. Believe me, the experience beats anything in comparison as those seen in TV. Of course, because these are indeed very timid, shy and overly lazy creatures and they're in the wild - we were not suppose to lay a single hand on them. Darn it.

So instead, we settled for the next best thing man can offer.

Hentam saja lah labu!

Ina told me that Philip Island also had a wildlife park of which Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats roam free to pat and touch. Somehow we missed this but it'd be on our to-go-to list next time we set foot here.

Anyways, the outing was actually more focused on another endeavour. The whole purpose of the visit was actually for another not-so-distant cute creature. We were there for the fairy penguins, the smallest and therefore cutest species of penguins this part of the globe. Everyday during sunset these penguins head back to their lairs from the sea, and because you usually travel in packs - their substantial numbers upon settling in the beaches onto the shrubs are best known as the Penguin March; an attraction that had even those living in the States coming all the way here for.

However, to complete the trifecta Fendi suggested we make port for another wonderful and equally poignant location in Philip Island - The Noobies. This is one location better known to house the seals from Antartica, which occasionally subdues here for the warmer climate. Through some very well placed telescopes (and at a price) you'll be able to see them seals, which from a distance look like squibbly worms bouncing back an forth into the sea.

But boy does this really remind me of Simpang Mengayau, only its much more of a wonder to marvel at. The docks built to circumsfere gives you an opportunity to tour its magnificent surroundings.

This is undeniably the prequel to our highlight of the day. Picturesque views of the ocean that transpires thousands of miles. Reminds me of how huge the ocean harbours for, and how big the earth really is. It's hard not to be here and just be taken in by its ambience of calm and serenity. If you're lucky enough, you might just spot a penguin resting in its many lairs as you walk the docks that surround the Noobies strait.

A good half-and-hour, and we were onway to the already packed beaches that houses the March of the Penguins a small distance from The Noobies. Shame is, as we walked into the confines and inquilines of penguin area we were graciously asked to put our cameras away. Apparently because of its nature (of the flashes) these would actually scare the penguins, and in return they won't make bay there in the future. This, was appropriate a ruse for us to respect and therefore I'm not able to provide you pictures of them cute things. We arrived about 15 minutes to six, and we had to wait in the crowds of hundreds a good 45 minutes until the first penguin was spotted touring the beach. Probably was the scout who'd be careless enough to make sure the areas clear before making way.

Shortly after, more penguins board the beach. Because they were very small in size (their height extends only a mere 30-cm tall) they were often picked on by seabirds and seagulls which parade the beaches prior. A quick nugde, the penguin falls in the cutest manner and rises again. A few metres penguin-walk, gets nudged again by the birds, fall again and get back up. Very cute. But the epitome of cuteness comes when they all march in numbers towards the crowd. Sometimes within a group of penguins, one would preceed the flock - most probably to make sure the coast is clear. Then the group follows suit. The nature of their footsteps was undeniably what makes them irresistable. A few penguins even stopped to ponder at the surroundings of people for a while; making an obnoxious gaze at how peculiar we people are staring at them before quickly marching on into the shrubs.

It wasn't until half past 8pm that we made our way back to the carpark with the huge masses of people, so many it felt like the Hajj. Our whole journey was eloquently passed by making short stops along the docks where the penguin lairs are situated - you'd actually be able to still see the penguins walk around, stopping once in a while (looking lost) to search for their homes. They might look lost but we were assured that they do find their ways home and can actually walk an astonishing 2 km until they actually do.

We headed home at about half past 9 pm, and the journey was filled with the usual laughters and stories shared between ourselves. It wasn't until when we reached Bundoora at 11pm that we had the lust for sleep.

It was tiring, but it was worth it. We had fun, and we had the time of our lives.

That culminated the first day of our two-day outing. Philip Island is indeed, the place to go for anyone planning a visit to the Land Down Under.

The day after, we were treated to the same equally astounding experience that is the Great Ocean Road.



azfar said...

ader macam happy feet ke?....wakkakaka

Anasfadilah said...

nice la jep.wishin one day boleh cuti kesana juge :)

JeP said...

Azfar : ader la sket2, kiut nk mampus biler dia jln2. yg best biler dia lepak jap tgk ko. rasa cam nk simpan satu dlm beg bwk balik je hahaha!

Erni : thanks, xpe insyaAllah ader rezeki akan sampai jugak ko ke sini. maner tau, kot2 aku bleh bawak ko jln2 merata kan.