Friday, March 20, 2009

Australia – Melbourne

My original plan to travel by train from Ayers Rock (Alice Springs) to Adelaide was changed due to the unmatched train schedule. I flew to Melbourne instead.

Melbourne is smaller, quieter than Sydney. The coastal water is colder, uncomfortable for swimming. The 2 National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) are good. The Immigration Museum is interesting but the ACMI is a little bit bored. Crown Casino - the largest in the south hemisphere is located here.

There are many fauna conservation parks around Australia, displaying unique animals only found on this continental, like wallaby (the smaller type of kangaroo), kangaroo, wombat, koala, dingo and Tasmanian devil. Admission fee is not cheap. Kangaroo feeding cheered up the tourists gladly.

A trip to Phillip Island is recommended, though it’s a boring 3 hr drive (one-way) from Melbourne. The beaches are good but the wind was too chilly and strong. The extreme southwestern tip of the island is the Nobbies, sceneries are unbeatable. Seal Rocks is a short distance offshore, inhabited by Australia’s largest colony of fur seals. Through the telescope thousands of seals were seen scattered on the rocks, but too far for a detail look. The tour guide said boat trip is possible to get close to the seals but tourists are not allowed to get on the Rocks.

The Penguin Parade was the highlight of the trip, was to see the world’s smallest penguin drifted ashore after sunset waddling from the sea to their land based nests. No photographing was permitted, said not to frighten the cuties. Tourists were sitting on the benches in front of the beach, exclaimed excitingly when the penguins appeared. Interestingly, when the 1st penguin was drifted ashore, it would stand facing the beach, waited till rest of the penguins gathered and queuing up in discipline before marching to their nests like an army troop.