When applying for my Australian Visa, under “purpose of visit” I put down “eco-tourism”. And I wasn’t lying. You can’t really travel this close to the South Pole and NOT see penguins in their natural habitat!! And how could I resist a chance to see some Koalas, Emus, Wallabies and Kanagaroos??
There are two ways you can choose to see Australian wildlife. The first is to take the usual guided tourist buses, where they take you to farms and let you get up close and personal with koalas and kangaroos – domesticated animals bred purely for the pleasure of tourists.
The second and more interesting way is to go on private tours with genuine conservation scientists and naturalists who will let you tag along on their regular outings to record measurement and observe the animals. You don’t get to touch the animals. You observe them wild and from a distance through binoculars. There’s not much talking, and when there is it’s always in hushed David Attenborough style so you don’t scare away the wildlife. Oh and you will WALK. A LOT. You will get muddy. You will get dusty. You will definitely get WET. So make sure you’re wearing the right clothing or you will regret it for days.
Guess which one I chose… 😀
First up, a day trip to Phillip Island Nature Park on the southern coast of Australia…
So the Penguin Parade is basically a few hundred penguins waddle onto the beach at Phillip Island and back to their burrows. Presumably they’re coming home to seep after a long day of guzzling fish and swimming around the arctic waters. It only happens at certain times of the year, and always after dark. Visitors are absolutely NOT allowed to take photos, in order to protect the penguins. That’s why I don’t have any pictures of them. Sorry, but the rules are the rules and I wasn’t going to be the one person breaking them.
You Yangs Nature Reserve
Just over an hour away from Melbourne is the You Yangs Regional Park. Home to wild koalas, kangaroos, possums and so much more…
Not far from Geelong and the You Yangs is the Serendip Sanctuary. Owned by the state government of Victoria, it’s used for wildlife research and the captive management and breeding of native species of birdlife under threat of being wiped out. I, however, was going to see the kangaroos.