Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roadtrip Over

After 20 days of traveling up, down and around eastern Australia, we returned the Wicked camper van today. We drove 5,293 km (3,289 miles) and stayed at 16 different places along the way. We checked in with our Spot GPS over 60 times during our trip and we were able to compile them together into the map below.

Map created by SpotAdventures

The last stop was an overnight trip to Phillip Island, about two hours south of Melbourne. We went to the Penguin Parade, where you can view wild penguins returning to their burrows after feeding in the ocean. There were over 1,000 penguins marching across the beach (not all at once - they go in groups and the whole event takes about 45 minutes). Since the penguins breed in stages we got to see penguins of all ages, including super furry baby ones. We were not allowed to take pictures for fear of disturbing them but Jaimee did snap a picture of a chocolate penguin at a chocolate factory:

Phillip Island is kind of weird that way. There are wild penguins on one part of the island and less than five miles away is all sorts of kitchy touristy stuff, including a "grand prix" race track. Also, the Penguin Parade itself was really built up (think Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon but much worse). Hundreds of people view the penguins each night and they sell all sorts of junk in the gift shop, including pop corn, candy and snacks for during the viewing. But apparently the penguins don't mind, just so long as you don't take their picture!

On the way back from Phillip Island we stopped in the Melbourne beach suburb of St. Kilda and met up with our friend Lisa from San Francisco. We hadn't seen her since we stayed with her in California during the second week of our trip. She's here visiting her sister, who like Jaimee's sister Michelle also studied abroad for the semester at the University of Queensland. It was fun seeing Lisa again and sharing travel stories and impressions of Australia (mostly positive).

We are back with Nan and Pop for the next couple days with not much planned. We may go into Melbourne tomorrow or Saturday before our flight to New Zealand. We're very much enjoying the suburb of Newport/Williamstown. We went on a walk tonight around a lake near their house and saw a few different kinds of birds, including, apparently not that rare black swans.

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