I’m back on deck! The move from Hong Kong to Australia proved harder than I thought… Finding a place to live was a challenge, with lots of competition and a tight market. We have found a nice place though, in a suburb of Melbourne called South Yarra, probably the nicest suburb I have ever lived in. And it’s only 1o minutes from work, which is a bonus (I hate commuting). The job’s been full-on from day one, with projects all over Australia and a lot of flying around. I am enjoying it though. As you can imagine, the reading and writing have not been a priority, but I am now dying to get back on track!
Before I started work, we went to visit Phillip Island, one and a half hour’s drive from Central Melbourne. Phillip Island is roughly 15 kilometres by 9 kilometres. It is linked to the mainland by a bridge and is famous for hosting the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which was being held while we were there. A beautiful coastline, pristine waters, protected bush and an abundance of wildlife: wallabies, rabbits, a large seal colony and many birds, including the amazing Muttonbirds (Shearwaters) which come here to reproduce after spending the Australian winter in Northeastern Russia, what a journey! The first seal we saw was dead. Its body was lying on the beach and it was missing a huge chunk of its backside… taken away by a shark, most probably one of the great whites which live in the area. We were not at risk: the water is very cold and we were not about to go swimming, or even put a toe in. I couldn’t help wonder about the surfers though, but the ones we met said they are not fazed by sharks, which they encounter quite often. The most famous inhabitants of Phillip Island though, are not the seals and the sharks, but the Fairy Penguins! They are the highlight of a trip to the island. At dusk they swim back en masse to the shore to reach their burrow, in which a partner is sometimes waiting with an egg or two – or a baby penguin. They are very cute! The area is totally protected, but you can join a tour to observe the penguins at night. Most tourists gather in the main spot with a huge crowd. We decided to join what was called the “ultimate tour” and were not disappointed: a ranger led us to a secluded area on the beach, and we sat down on the sand to wait in silence for the little fellows. They turned up at the expected time and waddled their way to the shore. We saw about a hundred of them that night, walking around us, eyeing us with suspicion before moving on. Magic! As we made our way back to the main area we came across many of them having a chat in the bushes or getting ready for a good night’s sleep before going back to sea before sunrise. Too cute for words!