First of all, don't be jealous that I spent Christmas in Australia. The 'summer' Christmas I had turned out to be cold and rainy, so I might as well have been back home in the UK!!
Never mind though, on Christmas eve I went on a Penguin Parade tour of Philip Island. The pick up was at 11am, the best time I've ever had for a tour! The first stop was at Maru wildlife park, where we got to stroke a wombat, see baby wombats and have our photo taken with a koala. I didn't buy the photo as I had one taken on my own camera at the wildlife park I went to on the Blue Mountains tour back in November. Got to feed kangaroos and wallabies again, saw a joey in his mother's pouch, which was cute, but by the time I had my camera ready, he decided to put his head inside and stick his leg out! So I have a picture of a leg coming out of a kangaroos pouch, interesting eh? Anyway, we got lunch at the park, I had pie and chips, a very Aussie meal really.
After that we drove onto Philip Island itself, over the bridge, with some amazing views, then we stopped at Woolamai beach, where we had a walk along the beach. It was really nice, although sadly dark clouds were looming on the horizon... in the direction we were headed.
After our little walk we went to Pyramid rock, which is, as the name suggests, a rock in the shape of a pyramid in the sea. It was getting very windy and the first drops of rain started to fall as we walked along the boardwalk to the rock. We made it back to the bus just as the rain started to fall more heavily, and we continued to our next destination, the Nobbies. Which are more large rocks in the sea, but have fur seals on them, although it was so cold and rainy by the time we got there, mist had started to form and it was hard to see, but apparently there are lots of fur seals around New Zealand, so I'll probably get to see them there.
It was then on to Cowes, where we had a pizza dinner and a trip to the pub to stay out of the rain! By this time it was 7.30pm and time to head to the Penguin Parade.
The penguins are called Little Penguins, they used to be called Fairy Penguins, but the gay community wants their name changed to Little, so Little they are! They only grow to about 30-33cm in height, and instead of black and white are actually a dark blue and white. After sheltering in the visitor centre for a while, we headed to the stands just before dusk to watch the penguins come in from their days fishing. After a while you start to see little groups of penguins in the shallows, they brave it out of the water for a little bit and then run back in. I was standing there, with 3 other people I'd made friends with from the tour group, we were all very cold and tried to encourage the penguins up the shore as we wanted to get back to warmth ourselves! After many occasions of watching the penguins running back and forth one group finally decided it was safe enough for them to waddle up the beach to their homes. They were so cute, emerging in groups of about 15-20 I guess. After this first group, other groups seemed to get braver and start moving as well. It's quite amazing. After watching them for a while, we decided to walk up the boardwalk back to the centre, the penguins homes are around the boardwalk, and you can hear them calling to each other, fighting with their partners and looking for their homes! I wanted to pick one up and take it home with me. We weren't allowed to take pictures ourselves, so I've had to buy some postcards of them.