Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Australia Seven: of Nobbies and penguins

There are some places that make me intensely happy inside (see above for what they do for the Eldest). Wilson’s Promontory, with it’s wonderful trees, wildlife, birdsong and blue, blue waters does that. Phillip Island, born of the same flora and fauna, the same wonderful blue waters and rocky coasts, does it too, if on a smaller (and more shiny touristy) scale. This is eco-tourism, proclaims the P.I. brochures, and I, on a reminiscient visit, am surprised. But if this is eco-tourism, it sure is purty.

As a child, we’d come here for a holiday, and I have a distinct memory of climbing over rocks to reach a Nobbie, a tall outpost of rock, a sort of knob sticking up out of the water. We could reach the Nobbie (there are three of them) during low tide, when there were enough exposed rocks to climb on. We hopped from rock to rock until we reached the Nobbie, at which point my dad noticed that the tide had turned. We scrambled for shore, and I remember being really alarmed at the idea of getting stuck for the night.

Today, we left a swooping, techno-elegant vistor’s center and walked along an extravagant length of boardwalk, admiring the various views of the Nobbies. Big signs forbade the scramble of my childhood – which is just as well, really. We took photos, oohed over every crash of the waves (the surf is so white! the rocks are so black! the lichen the seals the oooh ooh oooh Mu-um, I’m hungry).

The Blow-Hole, a 13 meter? deep hole carved by the water into the cliff, was less thrilling than I remember. As a kid, I watched the waves crash into the Blow-Hole, the water quieting and then whooosh! out came white spray. It was like having rock spit furiously at the ocean – I loved it. Now, the spit and spray is quieter, less intense. Or maybe that’s just me?

One lunch and a dripping refrigerator later, we’re off to see the famous Phillip Island fairy penguins. We sat on concrete blocks while the sun set behind us, the moon rose over the ocean in front of us and lightning flashed above us. Meanwhile, concerned mostly by a poor arrangement in camouflage - apparently, penguins are well adapted for water, but exactly wrong for crossing sand - a few hundred or so fairy penguins waddled past us. We watched penguins chasing each other (slow down, dude – I’ve got a bellyful of fish here) and peeping to each other (hi, honey, I’m home!), and standing in apparently random spots to groom themselves (he hates it when I come home smelling like sardines, you know). They were so tiny that we estimated about 3.5 penguins per Toddle height, but they were superbly cute.

It was only by sheer force of personality that I prevented QG from taking a few home. But then, I had to exert that same dictatorial mama tone on her about the wallabies. And the kangaroos. And the platypus. And, come to think on it, the pigeons for sale at Victoria Market. For heavens sake, someone get this woman a pet already, hey?

In case you were worried about what we are eating Down in the Under, here is this - a smoked trout salad, courtesy of my uncle, a man with a genius for salads. I added kalamata olives and was very happy. Just make sure your nectarines and cherry tomatoes actually smell like something other than the refrigerator...or wait until high summer.


AidelMaidel said...

Okay, I know that Rocket is what us americans call romaine lettuce - but what is witlof? Glad you are enjoying your vaca.

mama o' the matrices said...


I haven't a clue. I assumed it was some sort of scallion. Either way, the salad was yummy without it.

purple_kangaroo said...

What a great picture! It sounds like you're having a great time.