30 December, 2012

It's a Holi--holiday!

After two weeks of sunshine and Christmas (over) indulgence I've finally managed to find a moment to sit and write about our Fabulous Holiday.

We were off to a rough start, all of us with the trots (babies, aeroplanes and gastro is not fun, no matter what people tell you), but the sunshine quickly cured us of all ills and we've been gallivanting around the countryside having a lovely time.

First stop was Melbourne and a visit with a great Dutch friend whom we only seem to ever see in Australia, despite all living in Almere, before dashing off to Wilson's Promontory which is the most southerly point of the Australian mainland and just incredible.  It's like another world down there, so completely different to the rest of the country.  Squeaky Beach is truly beautiful, and the sand really does squeak underfoot!

Maarten and Raina playing in the surf at Wilson's Prom
From Wilson's Prom we drove over to Phillip Island to see the world famous Penguin Parade, and what a hoot!  We all took our seats in the bleachers on the side of the sand dunes and waited for sunset and the penguins to start their dash up the beach to their burrows in the dunes.  The Phillip Island colony is the largest of all Little Penguin (Fairy Penguins) colonies, with more than 30,000 living in the tiny stretch of coastline in the south west corner of Phillip Island and every night they return from their fishing adventures en masse.

We sat and waited for the first group to appear on the edge of the water and a couple of brave souls would lead the charge, although more often than not something would spook the group and see them all racing for the safety of the water, only to regroup and start all over again.  The most fun was commentating.

Little Penguin Forward Scout Fitzy:  "Right-o chaps, are we ready?  All here?  OK.  Let's go.  No, wait.  I see a bird.  Stand still. NO, DON'T RUN BACK TO THE WATER!! Oh bloody hell.  Wimps!  I'm off by myself then.  Wait, perhaps not.  Back in the water men!"

And so on and so forth...

We were lucky enough to arrive smack in the middle of breeding season, so there were thousands of penguin babies waiting at home for their parents to come and feed them.  Strangely enough, Little Penguin babies don't seem to recognise their parents, so attack any adult penguin who comes past for food.  This will often see them receiving a damned good pecking by a couple of hundred penguins before their parent finally arrives with a belly full of fish for them.

I absolutely loved the Penguin Parade and can't recommend it enough.  If you're ever in the neighbourhood it's a must (but let's face it.  If you're in the neighbourhood, it's more than likely because you're on your way to see the penguins).

From Phillip Island we headed across Port Phillip Bay on the Queenscliff-Sorrento ferry to stay with Maarten's family before cruising along the Great Ocean Road on our way home to see my parents.
At the Twelve Apostles

At the Twelve Apostles

Bay of Islands, Great Ocean Road

Finally we were in the Centre of the Universe (Lucindale) where we chilled out with my family for a week over Christmas.  And what a Christmas.  Twenty odd guests for Christmas lunch, including my amazing friend Amanda who trekked from Perth to celebrate with us.  Just prior, we had a great big family reunion which I'll tell you all about when I can trawl through all the photos.  It was such a great day, hearing stories of my great grandmother and seeing family that I didn't even know existed!

Now we're relaxing in NSW at the home of one of the TGAs (Truly Great Aunts) before heading off on the second half of our Australian Adventure.  Next stop:  Mount Kosciuszko and the Gippsland coast.  Can't wait, although it means that we're more than half way, and I never want to leave.

Hope your Christmas was wonderful and I'll be back in the New Year!


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