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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Parade of Penguins

Now what was I saying yesterday about a red sunset!!!!! Wrong 'cos a wetter, wilder day and night we were yet to experience. Only saving grace, the rain held off long enough for us to watch those Penguins arrive at dusk and a break in the clouds gave us a glimpse of the Super Moon. No photos of that I'm afraid.

Before heading for the evenings arrival of the little penguins we went to visit the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi. Operating from 1909 to 1968, the State Coal Mine produced almost 17 million tonnes of coal for Victoria's industries and railways. This is a great place to visit especially as everything above ground can be explored for free. To do the below ground tour there is a fee but for once we could get concessionary price. As the lady issuing the tickets said, 'we don't discriminate between Auzzi pensioners and the UK oldies'.

Hair nets and hard hats were the order of the day. Ian had to go one better!

The two photos below... yep it's the loo! Spending 8 hours a day in the mines, men had to go somewhere. These loos were situated throughout the tunnel system.

Top left and we had reached the coal face. Then it was back to the top by Coal skip or 'Monkey cage' as the miners called it.

Notice a familiar name amongst all those Pit Ponies?

One of the miners cottage.
 Instead of returning to the caravan we paid a visit to Cowes. For the first time in ages we sat in the car on the beach front eating fish and chips. The Penguin Parade was a dusk affair so we had several hours to kill. We choose the second most expensive tickets to buy, at nearly 50 dollars each,but it still wasn't as expensive as the underground viewing at 60 dollars pp. There were the cheap seats at 27dollars pp but the viewing is of the penguins leaving the ocean and not of them climbing the rocks or heading inland. Penguin plus seats meant we were at the right place to see them leave the sea, hop over the rocks and onto the sand heading for their burrows. Some travel over 2km to reach the burrows and we even have signs in the car parks asking that we check underneath the car in case any were lurking before driving off. Only one downside to the whole experience. No photography allowed. But there was an app that had pictures which could be downloaded for free. So these are not my photos even though my watermark is stamped on the right. As there was still two hours to go by the time we arrived, we killed time by a walk round the grounds. Saw my first wild Marsh Wallaby amongst the  Cape Barren Geese.

 Doors opened at 7pm and there was a mad exodus to the viewing stand, most heading for the general cheaper seats. We managed a front row seat on the plus stand and then we waited. Pacific gulls kept circling hoping to grab an early arrival. Alan our guide told us that until the gulls went to roost they would stay away.

He also predicted the Penguins arrival by 8.26pm. He was a tad out as the first arrived at 8.22pm! Over 4,000 of the 32,000 little penguins living in the waters around Phillip Island have their burrows around Summerland Beach. Native to Australia they are the smallest of their species at just 33 centimetres. These tiny birds leave their burrows about an hour before sunrise and swim up to 100 kilometres each day before returning at dusk.

General viewing platform (cheap seating)

Penguin Plus seating. We had the front row at the bottom.

We stayed until we were kicked out. Another one of those fantastic experiences ticked off our 'to do' list here in Auzzie.

And more wildlife

Purple Swamphen

More huge ants

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