The snow has melted which is good because it's getting down to crunch time for Brazil preparations. The current top cause of anxiety is the fact that I haven't received my visa yet - it is still being 'processed' at the consulate in Chicago. I'm crossing my fingers that it gets here soon. Other than that I've been knocking things off the to-do list and running a random, zillion little lame errands that leaving the U.S. for a year requires. One of my favorite parts of the day, however, is sitting down, drinking some tea and continuing to write about Australia.
|Stewie the wombat|
|I was really excited to be able to feed him|
|Mom and Dad emu and baby|
We did three very touristy things in Oz: a trip down the Great Ocean Road, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef and a tour of Phillip Island. The only way we could afford to visit Phillip Island was to go with a big group on a tour bus. The main draw of Phillip Island is the wildlife of course. Most of the island is a natural reserve and the shores are packed with birds of all kinds, the most famous being the Little Blue Penguin. While we drove around the island we also saw kangaroos and wallabies.
|No touching the koalas, yelling at the koalas or shaking the trees (the sad thing is is that they really need these rules)|
In the morning we visited a wildlife sanctuary that had a few tame animals that we could feed and pet. We met "Stewie" the wombat and I got to feed him a carrot. We also got up close and personal to several kangaroos snoozing in the shade. We were able to feed them some treats and watch them go about their business. It was so cool to see how they used their tail to move around. We also saw some adult emus along with their tiny, newborn emu - very cute.
|The little wallabies were everywhere|
After morning tea we stopped at a koala preserve. In the preserve there were boardwalks high among the trees so you could get a good view of the koalas although you couldn't touch them. The highlight of the boardwalk was seeing a mother and baby koala snuggling together. As soon as we moved off the boardwalk and onto a trail we saw curious little wallabies everywhere - they reminded me of squirrels here in the States.
|You can see the stadium in the background to watch the penguin parade|
The finale of the tour was watching the Little Blue Penguins swim in from a day fishing out at sea. The whole scene was pretty bizarre - bleachers filled with hundreds of people from around the world all waiting patiently and not-so-quietly for some tiny birds to appear and waddle up the beach to their homes in the rocks on the shore. As soon as the birds appeared, chaos ensued and everyone jockeyed for the best place to watch. Unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed so I don't have any pictures of my own to share. Although there were lots of people, there was plenty of room to be able to watch the hundreds of little guys mosey up the beach and then off to their particular burrow. They didn't seem to mind the throngs of people spying on their every move. Actually, it was also quite entertaining to watch the groups of tourists who were literally tortured by the fact that they couldn't take pictures of the penguins. We saw quite a few get stern reprimands and/or kicked out by the "Penguin Police." That in itself was worth the price of admission alone.