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04 August 2010 @ 11:50 pm
Daytrip #5: Phillip Island  
So, daytrip destination #5 for 2010 was Phillip Island, which is roughly 140kms southeast of Melbourne. This was the first time Burt & I had been to Phillip Island properly since we were kids. The road to Phillip Island is one I'm very fond of. Just before you arrive, you see a beautiful expanse of aqua & turquoise water along one side of the road. Then when you see the bridge at the foot of quaint little San Remo, you know you're there.

So here's a rundown of our day. After deciding on Phillip Island in the morning, we threw some snacks, fishing gear, and blankets in the car, and finally set off at around 10am. Arrived just after 12noon.

STOP #1: The Information Centre
We already had an idea of where want to head, but stopped in just in case there was anything else we missed. As expected, the place was packed with penguin merchandise (being famous for penguins and all). What we weren't expecting was loads of tourists, families and school groups lurking around, as the weather was quite nasty today. Max of 11 degrees with frequent rain.

STOP #2: Rusty Water Brewery Restaurant
By chance, we picked up the brochure for this place and decided to try it for lunch. I really enjoyed it. The place was fairly quiet, which I'd attribute to the nasty weather. Burt ordered the soft shell crab dish in tempura batter, served with chilli plum sauce and salad, which was awesome. The sauce was perfect. I ordered the calamari & chorizo salad, which was also delicious. For such a simple dish, there was so much flavor. Rusty Water also happens to brew their own "handcrafted ales", so we decided to give the sample paddle a try. The sample paddle includes four different kinds of beer. We went for a "blind test" paddle and guessed 3 of the 4 ales. Fair effort considering we don't normally drink beer. Beers were: i) Stone & Wood Pale Lager; ii) Coldstream Chocolate Winter Ale; iii) Dark Malt Burnt Toffee Ale; iv) Koala Pale Ale, which I'd recommend.

STOP #3: Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Next stop, Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. This place was downright awesome. As we walked in, we were given samples of their delicious white chocolate truffles. Then we went on the tour. They take you through the history of chocolate, the making of chocolate (which includes interactive machines that let you see what each stage of making chocolate is like), and a gallery of portraits made of chocolate. There are also chocolate games, chocolate samples, a chocolate village, a tonne block of chocolate, a chocolate fountain and even a design-your-own chocolate machine. You could custom make your own chocolate bar, which included crazy fillings like strawberry, cola, vegemite or wasabi. If you want to feel like a little kid again, this is the place to go. To top it all off, we came home with green tea, rose, and white chocolate truffles. They didn't make it to the next stop.

STOP #4: The Nobbies & The Nobbies Centre
The Nobbies are a pair of island rock formations situated on the westmost point of Phillip Island. There's a cafe & gift shop located there, as well as a seal watching centre. Seals often come to breed in the area, but there were none to be found when we visited. The Nobbies are also surrounded by rolling green cliffs and boardwalks, reminiscent of the Irish countryside. There's a particularly interesting coastal feature called the "blowhole", which was amazing to watch. Reminds me just how treacherous the ocean can be, but also how majestic and awesome it is. Didn't spend a great deal of time at The Nobbies, but still enjoyed what we saw.

STOP #5: The Penguin Parade
To top off the day, Burt and I decided last minute to watch the penguin parade. We figured it wouldn't be as busy because of the unforgiving weather. The penguins are actually in "false" mating season at the moment, which made the experience much more hillarious. The parade was good; the penguins fought hard against the strong tide and waddled onto the beach right in front of us. Then they made their way towards their burrows. There are boardwalks situated above the burrows, so we got to see the penguins up close and personal. That's when their mating rituals began, starting with the raunchy mating calls. They're very vocal animals. We saw one funny pair of penguins where, after finishing "the nasty", the male penguin stood up tall and stretched out his flippers in a human-like manner as though he'd just done a hard day's work. We also got to see a few female penguins incubating their eggs, thanks to the little man-made nests that are connected to the Penguin Parade centre. All in all, it was an awesome experience. More than 500 penguins came ashore that night. And despite the rain and the giant "no photography" warning sings, I managed to snap a few shots ninja-style by using ISO mode with no flash.

So that's about all for our Phillip Island tale (for now). After a two hour drive, we arrived back home at around 10pm. I wish we had more time there, but I have no doubt that we'll be back there to stay for a bit longer. I look forward to the day. Photos to be posted soon on FB.

* Footnote: Daytrips #1-4 will be backdated. I haven't quite gotten around to writing them yet.
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