Hello from Phillip Island!

Whew. Life has been pretty eventful the past few days. Hard to get to a computer, but I finally found a relatively cheap internet cafe – so I’m attempting to upload some photos. I don’t think all of them will upload as I’ve been at it 20 minutes and only two have finished. So, if they seem all out of sequence when you look, I apologize. I think maybe it’s time to stop uploading them at full quality!

After Lakes Entrance, we made our way to Melbourne on Friday where we stopped in at Britz to get the campervan heater looked at – along with the brakes and a list of a bunch of little things. They couldn’t fix the heater, and supposedly looked at the brakes and said they were fine, just a bit squeaky. They offered to trade our vehicle for another one on the tuesday, and gave us a little portable heater in the meantime. We decided not to trade the vehicle for another of similar age and disrepair (the devil you know, and all that) and left Melbourne on Monday afternoon…. only to discover the damn heater they GAVE us is busted. Grrr. So, once again we’re on the prowl for a heater, and a bit worried that when we really need it – the air-con won’t work! Ah well, we can always change it out in Adelaide if we really need to.

Otherwise, life in the campervan is working out fairly well as everyone learns to live atop one another. It is making for some interesting conversations in the morning when everyone is getting dressed. Grant was standing in his underwear putting on a shirt yesterday when Jessica reaches over and says: “LOOK DADDY!! You have a POCKET in your knickers!!” After extracting her hand, he had some red-faced explaining to do about what exactly he keeps in that very interesting pocket. Mommy was in hysterics on the floor.

Apparently Jessica’s word of the week is “Otherwise.” It’s totally cracking me up. Anytime you ask/tell her to do something, she makes up a reason – some more bizarre than others – about why she should do what you’ve asked. Example: Mommy: “Please sit very still while the penguins are going by Jessica”. Jessica: “Otherwise that man in the red jacket will hit me?” (man in the red jacket being the warden)

Potty training is still not working out. The only time she wants to go potty is at midnight in the pouring rain, when the potty in question is a three minute dash across a poorly lit campground! But, we’re planning to pick up a portable one. It’s high time we got this sorted out. The eating is going a bit better. We’ve found one or two snack foods that she will eat, and we even managed to find something to stand in for “circle sausage” once. Although, it’s doubtful we’ll ever find the stuff again!

Melbourne was fun. We stayed with friends we’d met years ago in New Zealand – Kerry and Leigh. A BIG thanks to them for letting the bean have the run of their house for three days, and for putting up with all the cartoons. It was nice to be able to spread out a bit and be able to sleep in a real bed…not to mention get all the laundry finished! We didn’t get up to much in Melbourne, just wandered around downtown, went to Williamstown (sp?) for lunch, and saw the painted beach houses. All in all a great weekend, apart from very bizarre service in a small cafe in Williamstown. One waitress running off in tears and another older woman slamming things (including chairs) about! Very odd!

After leaving Melbourne we drove to nearby Phillip Island, and are staying in a small town called Cowes. The caravan park that we’re staying in is right on the beach and we can eat breakfast looking out over the ocean towards Melbourne. It’s beautiful! We sayed here for three nights, so we didn’t feel we had to rush around to see everything.

The two highlights so far have been the wildlife park and the  penguin parade. We did the wildlife park on the afternoon of our first day here (after fruitless searching for a heater…) and it was AMAZING! We were each given a bag of food and told to go and feed the animals. After the brief warning about sticking our hands into the Dingo, Tasmanian Devil, and Cockatiel (sp?) enclosures, we were off!

There were wide open fields full of kangaroos, emus and wallabies that we were allowed to walk through. Of course, they all knew we were packing food, so as soon as they saw the telltale paper bags, the critters came running. Especially the Emus. I’m not generally afraid of any animals, but – let me tell you – an Emu intent on robbing you of your paper bag is somewhat frightening! I certainly didn’t want to feed it by hand, because I didn’t know how gentle they would be with those big beaks…. not to mention the fact that she had babies with her and I had no idea if she was going to be protective. So, I scattered a handful of food over my shoulder as I ran away…. with Grant laughing his ass off at me. Then one chased him and I got my own back. Eventually we worked out a toss-some-food-and-run-away routine that kept them at a distance whilst we fed [that one’s for you new guy] the kangaroos and wallabies.

Feeding a kangaroo!! How COOL is that?? They are very cute and very soft and kind of grab onto your hand with their claws to eat the food. They absolutely mobbed us and we loved every minute of it. We had to go back and buy a lot more food because we were having so much fun. It was hilarious to watch the toddler-sized joeys rummaging around in Mom’s pouch. They didn’t quite fit anymore and you’d see odd bits of them sticking out here and there. Adorable.

We also lucked out in that the Dingoes had puppies, and we managed to get a good look at the Tasmanian Devil. The pictures I took came out with red-eye, which I thought quite appropriate so I left it in! The Koalas were their usual fuzzy adorable selves, but we didn’t get to touch those. Bummer.  Hopefully we’ll find a place we can do that sometime along the way.

Yesterday we visited the Nobbies – a pretty part of the seashore where seagulls nest. There were thousands of them, and they all had baby seagulls. A bit depressing seeing some of the babies attacked, but it was pretty cool to see such a massive nesting grounds. Then we visited a local winery that had actually erected a MASSIVE tent to keep the grapes covered against the wind and the birds. Bought some wine for Daddy, too.

Last night we saw THE most amazing thing. Every night, hundreds of fairy penguins (world’s smallest penguin) waddle up the beaches at dusk to their burrows for the night. They are just slightly taller than a seagull and very very cute. Of course, being mating season, we were treated to some additional “activities” which had the parents in the audience doing some explaining. Luckily for us, the bean was bored of penguins after about six minutes so was happily building a sandcastle by that time. One of the little guys waddled across the sand about two feet in front of us! As we walked up the boardwalk towards the parking lot, we could see them all through the brush and under the boardwalk, and the air was filled with the calls and sounds of miniature mating penguins and laughing people! It was a wonderful, magical experience to see all the little guys marching across the beach together. Jessica was walking like a penguin all last night, so she must have managed to see at least one penguin amidst her sandcastle building!

Link to Phillip Island Penguin Parade: http://www.penguins.org.au/

Today’s plan is to get caught up on email, and hopefully upload some photos. Then we’re off to the start of the Great Ocean Road. The place we’re staying tonight is called Queenscliffe.

For Grant’s birthday, we’re planning a helicopter ride: http://www.gorhelis.com/home.php

It’ll be a couple days after the big 40, but it looks like THE place to do a helicopter ride…now all we have to do is convince Jessica that we’re not in Mexico once we get off the thing!

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