Saturday, July 27, 2013

Phillip Island

We managed a little getaway during the school holidays, an overnight trip to Phillip Island which is about 90 minutes south-east of Melbourne, and famous for its wildlife.  My sister and her kids, who were in Melbourne for the holidays, came along too.

2013 4:02 PM

By far the biggest attraction at Phillip Island is the nightly Penguin Parade, where hundreds of Little Penguins come in to nest after several days hunting at sea.  They wait until sunset and then emerge out of the waves in nervous little packs, before waddling up the sand to their nests.  Very cute. My kids have always been mad for penguins so it seemed worth braving the cold to take them to see it.  And boy! Was it cold!! We should have brought binoculars and a rug to sit on (note for next time) as you can't see very well from the viewing area on the beach. For a start, it's dark, and none of the packs come very close to the human area (not surprising).  However, you do have a chance afterwards to see them quite well from the boardwalks as you make your way back to the tourist centre. Unfortunately Cherub got separated from us at this point, so I spent my whole time trying to spot him (without success) and none at all spotting sweet penguins waddling close by.  We located him with a ranger 20 long minutes later, and all was well. Climber, who has got himself lost at various exhibitions, most notably the Harry Potter experience in Sydney where he was completely panicked because of being lost in a foreign city, was quite unnerved by Cherub's disappearance and stuck to me like glue from then on, so he really didn't see the penguins properly either.  But ah well, next time, and we certainly enjoyed what we did see. You are not permitted to take photographs at all of the penguins, so I borrowed a picture.  Naw.

Afterwards, we had dinner at a pub, where the water was cucumber-flavoured. Nobody at our table thought much of that.

2013 7:28 PM

Then it was back to the excitement of staying in a motel. Everyone had a spa bath. Our motel room had a separate room for the boys, and the beds had electric blankets.  Cherub in particular thought this was very good, and announced as we left the island that the best thing had been the "electric beds".  Weirdly though, our motel had no bowls so we had to eat our cereal out of mugs with a teaspoon.  All part of the adventure.

2013 9:07 PM

Our first expedition the next day was to The Nobbies, which is close to where seals hang out. Not close enough to see any actual seals unless you get on a boat, but a very beautiful bit of countryside, and we enjoyed walking around there and taking lots of photos of waves.

2013 11:30 AM

We stood there for ages in the freezing cold, watching the water crash in. Just beautiful.

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That tiny island you see in the background is the seal colony.  We couldn't quite see any from where we were.

2013 11:40 AM

After The Nobbies, we had lunch in a bakery and caught up with a cousin who coincidentally was also visiting the island with his family.  Then it was time to visit the koala sanctuary, where we spotted lots of furry lumps in the trees.  Cute!


Plus a bonus wallaby.


My boys on the boardwalks. We really enjoyed the koala place.


Beware fake koalas though.


Full set of photographs here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Step In, Step Out

Mister Fixit's employers have forced him into a month of night-shifts, using a loophole in their Enterprise Agreement which allows temporary shift changes.  It's to do with how shaky his industry is in Australia at present - most airlines are opting to outsource the regular 'heavy' maintenance of their aircraft (the 3-5 day complete overhauls) to Asia, where the labour costs are significantly lower.  Only the really unavoidable services, the overnight ones, are being done in Melbourne.  Hence the mandatory night-shift: surprisingly, very few people put their hands up to do voluntary night-shift. Particularly when it doesn't come with any extra income.  He is working 4 nights from 8pm through to 6.30am, then he has 4 whole days off to see his family and change his bodyclock back round.  And then we're back to greeting each other as he creeps in from a long night just as I'm getting up.

The reality so far has not been as bad as I anticipated. I was pretty worried about Mister Fixit's tiredness levels but so far he seems to be coping pretty well. His great gift is that he can sleep at will.  Famously, he once dozed off riding a motorcycle home along the freeway, but jerked awake before he came to any harm.  But it isn't particularly family friendly, and even less so because we've had school holidays and visitors (harder to keep quiet during the day).  Also, the childminding for the nights I work has been haphazard, because our regular sitter is away and it hasn't been worthwhile getting someone else in owing to Fixit not leaving til 7.30pm and me being home at 8.45 or 9.45pm - it doesn't feel like a long enough shift to offer someone.  My visitors (my sister and my mother) kindly helped out whilst they were here. Fixit started late on one occasion. I don't really know how we'll swing it if it becomes a long term prospect.  But I suppose where there's a will there's a way, my newly adopted proverb of choice at this stage of my life.  We'll find a way, we always do.

Meanwhile, holiday snaps.

My sister and kids came to Melbourne (as did my Mum but I didn't get a photo of her)

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We saw two movies, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2.  Minions! Purple minions!!
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We hung out with friends

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We kept the house in order, mostly.

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We went to the Zoo.  We had a great day at the Zoo! The seal show is absolutely fantastic and I can't believe we've never seen it before in all our years of visiting.  Gordo the seal is so clever. And Cherub and I discovered the trick to attracting butterflies to land on you in the butterfly house: white hats.  Climber was ever-so-slightly jealous.

Big Brown Bear
2013 12:43 PM

Daddy Lions
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Meerkat watching
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Phone photography
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At the Carousel
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Watching seals from under their pool
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Seal in training out the back
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Gordo the Seal making waves
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Butterflies definitely prefer white hats
2013 2:09 PM

 Best ever hat for attracting butterflies to land
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