Australia Day 2: Out to Phillip Island

January 2016: Atlas Workshops partnered with Mill Springs Academy to lead the Life and Land Australia trip, a custom school trip for students from Mill Springs to explore the intersection of environmental issues, conservation, and lifestyles in Australia. The diverse group of 11 students came from different years and background to collaborate on this for-credit field course and project. These are daily updates from different student travelers. IMG_9050 IMG_9063 IMG_9083 IMG_9089 IMG_9137 IMG_9144 IMG_9147 IMG_9164 IMG_9176

Today, the group and I went to the Moonlit Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was our first stop and a great way to start our excursion.  We all ate lunch there, they served us a traditional Australian BBQ. The food was good but I did lose my appetite when i noticed i was sitting next to a cage full of stick bugs.

After we ate they let us out into the sanctuary and interact with all the amazing animals: we saw koalas, joeys, (both kangaroo and koala), emu’s, owl’s, kangaroos, wallabies, and so many more beautiful animals.  One of the members of our group (Elli) got to pet one of the koalas while on the verge of joyful tears. After we had fun at the sanctuary, we hopped back on the bus to drive to Heritage Farm, an elaborate koala preserve. As we walked down the trail we all were gazing at the trees. One of our group members (Elli) was once again on the verge of tears of joy.

When everyone walked through the trail passed the Koalas we all got back on the bus to drive to a location known as Bass Straight Beach. Everyone, including me, jumped off the bus with great excitement to go and rest on the soft sand and stand in the water. As It turns out that beaches in Melbourne have the coldest water ever!  I for one did not realize that until I was knee deep in the ocean.  The group spent the time drawing in the sand and taking pictures with the occasional photo bomb (that i proudly took part in). When our time was up we loaded back on the bus to drive to the next destination known as “Nobbies”.  As everyone made their way from the parking lot to the boardwalk we were ambushed by a breathtaking view of a huge cliff with water crashing into the bottom of it. As everyone gazed at the land, we noticed little wooden houses that only a penguin could fit into. They were all over the cliff and sometimes we would get lucky and spot a penguin inside or see a egg.

Once we walked the boardwalk we had fish and chips at the restaurant there. After everyone was finished eating the group loaded on the bus once again to go to Penguin Parade Park. When we got to Penguin Parade Park, everyone was so excited to see thousands of penguins marching in a group to nest on the land. You have not experienced cuteness until you see thousands of extremely small penguins waddle across a beach in one big group. The penguins are very sensitive to flash so no photography was allowed. That however did not discourage some people sadly, but all they needed was a little reminder on what flash does to penguins.

For those of you that do not know what flash does to a penguin I will explain. Penguins are very tiny and have sensitive nerves so a blinding flash will make them throw up.  That’s really bad because the food was supposed to go to its family. Now the family has nothing to eat and the mother does not have the energy to get more. So I’m sad to say they will starve. This was an interesting insight to the challenge of conservation our on the island.

Aside from that, walking next to a tiny penguin can put anyone in a good mood. What the people at Penguin Parade Park are doing is ensuring the safety and prosperity of the penguin. Which truly is an amazing thing for a beautiful animal. After the cuteness overload we all arrived home to our hotel to put an end to our amazing adventure filled with penguins and other majestic animals.

Until next time,

-Peter