Phillip Island, Australia
Unexpectedly fabulous! Up close and personal with thousands of penguins instead of thousands of tourists. Our ranger, Michele, started with a very detailed and informative orientation and history about the penguins of Phillip Island. Then we donned our rain gear and rode in a van to the secluded beach opposite the main beach where thousands sit in the bleachers. Though the tide was high, the weather was perfect and we managed to find a narrow spit of sand to sit on. At 6:17pm, we saw the first raft of penguins emerge from the surf and head for the bluffs. The infrared monoscopes worked great and we counted over 200 penguins. All the time, we could hear commentary by Michele whispered over our wireless headsets. I appreciated that Michele seemed in no particular hurry as we returned through the penguin "suburbs" where we could observe the penguin interactions. Traffic is blocked from the area at sunset so we had the birds all to ourselves (along with a few wallabies). The Eco Tour was one of the most enjoyable events and one of the best values of our trip. Don't forget, cameras are absolutely forbidden so get your photo taken in the main building against a green screen. You get a price discount on the photo as well as free hot chocolate at the end.
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