Melbourne, Australia 2010 – Day 9 & 10

05/03/10

Flew to Melbourne today with Virgin Blue. We flew out at 1245PM but had a connection in Sydney so the flight took an approximate of 5 hours. My last name is more easily accepted here! well at least through the kiosks and we both got through so quickly.

We landed about 10 minutes early however we didn’t leave the airport for another hour because we were searching for a green and white shuttle that is suppose to take us to our hostel which is difficult since that is all they tell you. The highway system is a mix of  toronto and LA however, they have these toll points which are similar to etr 407 and they have these light-up signs with estimated time for exits but it’s less congested than LA. The main street has various lanes and has a dedicated centre lane for their trams like our lrt/street cars. Gas here for regular is 130.1

We are staying at Habitat HQ (formally Coogee on St Kilda) which apparently isn’t a very busy part of town and food options are quite limited. We finally arrived around 8-9PM. I like it a lot. It’s a cozy environment with a huge common lobby, full kitchen, 24 hour reception with helpful people in the front.  We booked a twin private ensuite (meaning a room with 2 beds and an ensuite bathroom). This room is awesome and 10x better than our hostel in Cairns. This room features a nice bathroom, no table but a double bed and 2 single bunk beds as well as a tv, kettle and coffee maker. Depending on the night, there are hostel activities like a social BBQ or a petting zoo/ magic tricks night.
I didn’t get the guys name at the front desk but he has helped me out a lot since we got here about 4 hours ago. We had discussed about doing Stand-Up Paddle Boarding but in the end, we decided to book 2 tours through Bunyip Tours. The only thing about booking these 2 tours is that they are full day meaning we have only half a day to explore Melbourne before leaving which veto the chance for SUP at all.

The weather is different than Cairns that is for sure. It really feels like Toronto. After settling in late,  Andrew and myself walked down a street to find dinner and found ourselves walking down a very quiet suburban street that reminds me of downtown toronto – west end. There are some really nice hidden houses here. There is even a King and Queen St here!

05/04/10

We booked the Penguin Parade Ultimate Tour (139AUD) with Bunyip Tours to Philips Island. The morning started off actually cold and a little windy but from what we were told is the you experience all 4 seasons in a day here in Melbourne. We started off taking a shuttle over to the main office/ loading area on Flinders St and took a very scenic route I suppose as we picked up other tourees. We arrived at the office to pay for our tours. Although Toronto doesn’t have LTRs just yet, the system here seems to work really well. As we went through the core of downtown, it felt a lot like driving on the DVP and seeing all the tall business buildings.

Our driver/tour guide was this jolly man Bernie who apparently lived in Yukon digging in a coal mine for a year. We started off going to a small wildlife conservatory and saw more wallabies and kangaroos as well as other animals. I held a python snake there as well and its not bad.The scales are pretty cool but as I was paying attention to its head, its tail was going elsewhere as it started to wrap around my leg. Snakes smell through their skin. After lunch, we passed through Cape Woolamai, a beach that had pretty good waves but it was chilly and sunny so onward we headed to Churchill Park. Highland Cows! They are so adorable! We also were shown sheep sheering and a work dog corralling sheep.

The weather took a turn for the worst and it started to cool down and rain. It was horrible weather when we went to the koala conservatory and quickly went through the path to see the koalas sleeping far up in the trees. This of course was not the end of the trip as we still had the penguin march to watch. Did you know a group of penguins is called a raft and their feathers are waterproof. The penguins after a year start maulting, where they lose all their feathers and must be on land for about 8 days until they grow back. They must fill their bellies because they only eat in the water. As it get dark out and tides start to come in, the penguins swim back to shore to rest. Cutest thing ever! The penguins we saw were really tiny ones that were silver and as they were brought in by the tide, they would start to walk and because they ate double their weight they can barely walk and plop over. They have poor eyesight so if they are too slow, they lose the crowd and get frightened so they scurry back into the waters to wait for the next raft to come in. Photography is not allowed during the march of the penguins because tourists have wrecked havoc on the poor penguins with flash photography.

It was cute but the weather was cool and wet. Andrew didn’t bring a sweater and was in a t-shirt the whole time. We ended off eating pizza and going back to the hostel. We booked Auckland and I am psyched for New Zealand! It just sucks we don’t have enough time to stay and discover Melbourne. I want to try the free tram service and goto National Victoria Gallery, Federation Station (apparently the largest FREE wifi area). The hostel we are in; Habitat HQ is voted #3 in all of Australia. I highly recommend it.